Three Planting Methods

Plants grown from seed, cuttings, or division are a good way of inexpensively increasing the number or plants in your garden. I have used these three methods for planting for years and saved a lot of money, a few tricks will help you too!

Growing From Seeds
This is much less expensive and can be more fun than buying cuttings or mature plants. Annuals like poppies and nasturtiums can be raised easily from seed and will often self-seed once established. Just make sure you get them from a good source. I trust my local independent nursery for guidance and directions.

The simplest method is to sow seeds straight into the spot in the garden where you want the plants to grow. This is especially effective if you want to achieve a mass planting of one particular variety, if the seeds are tiny (like radish seed,) or if the seedlings are from plants that don’t like to be moved once established.

To prepare the ground, rake the area clean, lightly cultivate the soil, and remove all weeds. Add Dr. Earth® Starter Fertilizer at half strength. Scatter the seeds over the soil surface, and then rake again gently to distribute them. It would be beneficial to add a thin layer of planting mix or compost to help keep the seeds moist. Be sure to keep the seeds moist and thin out the seedlings as they develop.

If you are sowing seed in pots or trays, use Dr. Earth® Potting Soil rather than garden soil. Fill the container with moist potting soil and lightly firm it. Then scatter or space the seeds evenly. After sowing, add a little more potting soil to maintain even moisture. Keep moist and provide even light and temperature until sprouts appear. Once the seedlings have developed a set of leaves, you can gently separate them out and transfer them to individual containers. They can be transplanted to the garden when they are approximately three to four inches tall.

Growing From Cuttings
Small segments of stem or leaf sections can be removed from one plant to generate a completely new one that is genetically identical to its parent. Fleshy-stemmed plants like begonias, nasturtiums, and pelargoniums can be grown easily from cuttings. Remove a new shoot, cutting just below the third set of leaves from the tip. Trim off the lowest set of leaves and make a fresh cut at the base of the stem. Insert the cutting into a pot of potting soil. Cover the plant with a plastic bag or the top half of a plastic bottle to conserve moisture, keep it in a light airy place until a root system develops. The plants can then be transplanted to a large pot and gradually moved outside.

In mild climates, cuttings can be taken at almost any time of year, although rose cuttings are usually taken in very early spring. Cuttings taken from shrubs can be placed straight into fine soil and kept outside in a sheltered spot. Several cuttings can be packed tightly into one pot; the survivors could be potted when there are signs of good root and leaf growth. Cuttings, seedlings, and small plants grow best in even temperatures and in light, but not in bright sun. Keep moisture levels fairly constant and provide shelter. Some air circulation is essential.

This is a quick and easy method of propagating clump-forming perennials such as anemones and campanulas. Use a fork to loosen and lift the entire plant, then gently cut or pull apart the roots so that the plant is divided neatly into sections. To survive, each section must have both roots and above-ground shoots. Replant the divided sections as you would any new plant. The best time to divide plants is when they are dormant.

Tuberous-rooted plants, like begonias, can also be propagated by division. Lift the tubers, choosing one with at least three shoots, and use a sharp knife to cut the tuber into sections. Each section must have a shoot. The sections can then be replanted.

Once bulbous plants, like daffodils and lilies have been established for a few years you can divide them by removing the young “bulb-lets” that form on the main bulb. Dig up the bulbs when dormant, gently remove the small” bulb-lets” from the parent bulb, and replant. They may take a few years to flower again.

African violets and succulents can be propagated from a single leaf or leaf segment. Remove a leaf with its stalk, or a segment from a succulent, and place the cutting in a pot of fine propagating soil. Provide even temperatures and moister levels until the cutting takes root. As soon as the plants develop a root system, give it a light dose of Dr. Earth® Liquid Solution Fertilizer and Dr. Earth® Seaweed Extract.

Nicholas Shammas
Architect/Builder and Milo’s older brother

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