Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bulb Planting Hack Update

planting bulbs tipBack in May I wrote "Bulb Planting Hack" and posted about an experiment I was going to try out when planting tender bulbs in my garden that had to be dug up in the winter. The idea is really simple and I'm sure had been thought of by many gardeners before and I wish it would have occurred sooner to me.

The problem I had in my garden was trying to find bulbs I planted once the foliage had died down. You can easily add plant markers and stakes in the ground to mark where your plants are planted but when you go to dig up the bulbs, tubers or rhizomes you may end up damaging the plant with the trowel or shovel.

It occurred to me that what I need was something that surrounded the bulbs and gave me a visual clue when I was getting close to the bulb. What I did was place one of those plastic baskets that strawberries come in at the grocery store in the ground and then placed my Calla Lily bulbs inside that. You can see an image of what I'm describing at the link above.

A few days ago when I went to lift my Calla Lilies from the ground to store them for the winter I was easily able to locate them in the ground and bring them out of the soil without damaging them as you can see from the photo above. I noticed this also made it easier to locate any offsets or "bulb babies" produced by the plants I did this to. I'm going to do this in the garden again next year and expand it to include more bulbs-but I'll make larger trays with chicken wire so I can add more bulbs and lift them all at once.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rooting Sweet Potato Vine Cuttings

Rooting Sweet Potato Vine CuttingsThis spring I bought some Ipomoea batatas 'blackie' plants for my container garden and have decided to store the tubers and take some cuttings to try to root the cuttings indoors for next spring. Ipomoea batatas is better known as sweet potato vine or ornamental sweet potato and are related to morning glories and the sweet potato vine flower (see photo at link) has a remarkable resemblance to the morning glories you may have in your garden.

Sweet potato vines are common annuals and are easily purchased for your garden every spring and summer at the garden center but storing the tuber and rooting your own can save you a few dollars a year. Not only is this frugal gardening but you get to practice some plant propagation with a plant that is easy to root.

Rooting sweet potato vine cuttings is very easy and can be done in soil or water without the need for rooting hormones. In this example I'll be rooting sweet potato vine cuttings in water in a glass vase I already own. I removed the lower leafs and simply cut the vine right below a leaf node at a 45 degree angle. A leaf node is the spot where a leaf will or has grown out of the vine or stem of a plant- on the sweet potato vine it is easy to find because it is a small bump or lump in the vine. At this spot is where I expect the roots to form first on the sweet potato vine.

Your sweet potato vine should root within a few days to a week in a warm spot. Make sure to change the water daily or frequently to reduce the chances of bacteria or algae forming in the water especially if it is in direct light. When taking cuttings you should make sure that you're using a clean pair of scissors or a knife.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rooting Christmas Cactus cuttings

Christmas Cactus cuttings, rooting, growingChristmas cactus plants are popular plants during the holidays, they come in a variety of colors and are pretty easy plants to take care of and get to bloom. On my other blog I posted a entry on how to make your Christmas Cactus flower. Once you've managed to make your Christmas cactus flower you may want to move on to taking cuttings from your Christmas Cactus and rooting your Christmas cactus cuttings.

Christmas cacti, or Holiday cacti as they're becoming known, are succulent plants and when you cut or break off a stem you may notice a little bit of liquid or a clear gel leaking from the wound. This is normal, just let your cutting sit out for a day or two so that the end of the cutting begins to dry out. Once your cutting is prepared you can begin the propagation process simply by inserting the cutting into houseplant soil. I use regular houseplant potting soil that I sometimes amend with one third Perlite. Make sure you've inserted at least one segment of your Christmas cactus below the soil level. Keep your cutting in a bright and warm area away from direct sunlight and keep the potting soil moist but not soggy. If you want you can mist your cutting daily to help keep it moist. The cuttings that you took from your succulent plant will wilt and probably even shrivel but you shouldn't be alarmed.

A good sign that your cutting has started to root is the appearance of new growth at the tips of the older leaves. The new growth is smaller and thinner than the older leaves and sometimes a little reddish in color. Once the new leaves have started to grow on your cuttings you'll know that the cutting has started to produce roots below the soil. Once the new leaves start to grow you can begin watering the rooted cutting like normal and exposing it to brighter light.

You may also notice sometimes that leaves from your succulent plants fall or are broken off by accident or even on purpose. When that happens to one of your plants take the opportunity to propagate them and create new plants. Sometimes propagating succulents by leaf cuttings doesn't even require soil. See that entry and the links in the entry and notice how those succulents had started to grow roots without even being in soil.