Propagation, part 1

With the weather being rather miserable last week, I decided it was time to bring the garden indoors. As things naturally slow down this time of year, and we return to school and work routines, my head clears a bit and it’s easier for me to realize that I’ve got to begin planning for those inevitable bursts of gardening drive that hit me in late February (or maybe sooner, weather permitting).

I have had fairly good luck with propagating plants from cuttings. Some plants work better than others, but it’s the easiest and cheapest way I’ve found to get loads of plants quickly. I also have had moderate success growing plants from seed. So I’m starting the process now, hoping to keep myself and my budget out of trouble later.

I begin by scrounging whatever pots and containers I can find in the shed (self-watering are the best option for lazy gardeners like myself), and giving them a good sanitizing with a solution of bleach and water. Scrub vigorously and rinse well. A little baking soda helps get the encrusted grime off.

My starting medium of choice these days is coir, which comes in compressed bricks from various sources (I got mine at Gardener’s Supply Company). These are easier to deal with and far lighter than sacks of potting soil, and using them alleviates eco-guilt over peat bog destruction. Plus, when it’s all done, it goes in the compost and won’t set up like brick when it gets mixed into the sticky clay of my garden beds.

I unwrap the brick and drop it into a bucket, and cover it with about 4 quarts of warm water. It blows up as it absorbs the water and becomes the lovely fluffy stuff you see here.

I found a slug in one of my pots. Eeeaauugh. Pass the salt.

A sparkling, shiny container ready to go.

These are seeds and seedpods from Iris tectorum, Japanese roof iris. Okay, these aren’t cuttings. But I am going to give them a try.

I fill the container with the coir, water thoroughly, sprinkle the seeds over it and add a little more coir over top (just enough to cover). Water again, and stick it outside in the cold frame.

My theory here is that if they scatter their seeds this way in nature, and they’re open to the elements, and they’ve managed to reproduce themselves for who knows how long, then surely I can use the same minimal approach in my garden and expect at least some similar measure of results. Who knows. I imagine it’s perhaps easier with Iris tectorum to divide the clumps, but if I’m lucky with this approach I will be able to have a lovely river of purple-blue blooms next year or year after, whereas with the dividing approach I will have merely a puddle.

Next up: actual cuttings.


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