Friday, October 2, 2009

Frugal Friday: Growing Your Own Ornamental Plants

I have a horribly un-green thumb (my houseplants, may they rest in peace, would agree) but I do like to keep some pretty annuals in our windowboxes and planters-- and generally, they stay alive with a minimum of effort. Nothing fancy, just some petunias and sweet potato vine in the spring and summer, and pansies and vinca vine in the wintertime. Well, after many seasonal trips to the garden center, I have decided to try my hand at propagating my own plants from cuttings. I first heard of this from a farmer who was selling beautiful hanging baskets of mixed flowers in the Berkshires. We asked how he grows such beautiful flowers, and he told us, straight up, that he uses some root hormone on cuttings. That's how everyone does it, he told us. It's fast and easy-- you should try it. Well, two years later, I'm finally giving it a try. It should save a good bit of money (a bottle of root hormone is around 5 bucks, which is close to what I would pay for a single plant).

Here's how it's done.

Take some cuttings from your favorite ornamental plants (you shouldn't do this in edible plants). Just snip right below a leaf, and then take off any leaves close to the bottom:

Dip in a cup of water followed by the root hormone:

Place in a container with potting soil (I just planted my pansies, so I still had these handy 6-pack planters on hand) and water lightly:

Place the whole thing in an unzipped ziplock bag:

Now, you're supposed to leave the plants out of direct sunlight for a week or two (until they give you some resistance when you tug, meaning that the roots have developed), and then place them on a windowsill that gets some good light (we don't have a great candidate, so I think we're going to try to find a fluorescent light on craigslist). Come springtime, I'm hoping that we have an array of plants ready for planting-- and for a total cost of just 5 bucks! I have a bunch of petunias, some sweet potato vine, and impatiens growing so far.

If you give this a try, let me know how it goes. If you've done it before, do you have any tips? I need all the help I can get.


Meghan said...

What kind of rooting hormone did you get? Where did you buy it?

My husband and I were just talking about this last night and he said all I had to do was clip the plant, put the trimming in water where it would start to grow roots, and then plant it. It sounded pretty unlikely to me. I had heard of rooting hormone before but didn't know a lot about it, so I'm interested in how this goes for you.

Adele said...

I just picked up some rooting hormone at my local garden center/nursery. I bet you could buy it at home depot, too.

I'll let you know how it goes! I'm also a skeptical, but hopeful. :-)