Introduction: Rooting/Propagating Sprawl-y Plants
As promised in my Instructable for upright-ish plants, here is the method I use for sprawling plants such as thyme, oregano, or as pictured here, Creeping Jenny.
The technique is exactly the same, the only real difference is HOW to lay out the cuttings, given the anatomy of the plant.
If you'd like to see the original Instructable:
*even though mint is an upright-y plant, it spreads by runners, so this method might actually work better with it than the basil method above
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You will need:
- plant you wish to propagate, or cuttings
- (you can also use herbs from the tiny, fancy packages from the grocery store)
- planting container of pre-moistened medium
- here I'm using a nice pot with the good potting soil because it's the final home, but you could use seed starter pots or whatever that suits your needs and budget
- homemade plant pins made from cheap craft wire
- wire cutters are handy to cut them, but good scissors would also work
- zip top bag or plastic wrap
- optional: rooting hormone
- It's not recommended that you use it on herbs and plants meant for consumption, but if you want to use it for ornamental plants, you will also need:
some colored paper, just so you can easily see the white powder
cheap paintbrush of the kind that comes in kids' paint kits (they're also sold separately as a pack of 30 for .99 and are pretty handy to have around for tiny gardening tasks)
Step 2: Make Your Plant Pins
Clip the wire into 2-3 inch pieces and twist them to make pins. You will want at least one pin per cutting, or more if they are thicker or longer than the ones I am using.
Pro tip: make your kids earn their keep and make them for you!
Step 3: Take/prep Your Cuttings
For this particular plant, as I clipped the cuttings, I left a growing node at each cut, so the original plant should grow back bushy and quickly.
If you want to use the packaged stems of herbs from the grocery stores, there's no need to sacrifice their leaves. Just strip them off and use it for your cookery, and use the bare stems for regrowing (but don't take the terminal bud, also called the growing tip).
To strip the herbs, grasp the stem end in one hand, and with the other, pinch and pull in the direction of the terminal bud.
If you need the leaves but don't have time to plant the cuttings right then, just wrap the bare stems in moist paper towels and store in a plastic zip top bag in the fridge. They should be okay for at least 3-5 days.
Step 4: Arrange Your Cuttings
Directionality matters! Or not... It's up to you...
All plants will grow in the direction of their terminal buds or growing end/tip. Some plants, including this one, will grow leaves or branches from the growing nodes, also in the direction of the terminal bud.
My goal here was to make a full, "mature-looking" plant in the shortest time possible, so I arranged the cuttings with the terminal buds all pointed out, so that the new growth will spill over the edge of the pot.
Step 5: Pin in Place
Pin your cutting so that the plant stem has good contact with the potting medium, but not so tightly that it crimps or damages the stem. This is a case where it's better to have 2 or 3 loosely placed pins than a single firmly placed one.
These cuttings are pretty delicate, so one pin was enough for each.
Since this creeping jenny plant has pretty leaves, I left them as you see here. But if you were using stripped herb stems, or long "leggy" stems of sedum, you may be able to skip the pinning and just cover with enough potting media to keep them in place. You can even cover up the terminal bud; it will eventually poke out as it grows.
If you want to use the rooting hormone for ornamental plants:
Tap out a bit onto colored construction paper in the disposable bowl. This is just to make the white powder easier to see.
Prep your cutting, and use the brush to dab the hormone onto the stem. Avoid getting the hormone onto the leaves; it burns them (if you do get some on the leaves, just try to brush as much off as you can).
Step 6: Ta-da!
Once you have your cuttings all done up, put the plant container in the zip top bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while they form new roots. Place your cuttings somewhere with bright, indirect light for a week or two. When you can see some new growths, that means the cuttings have rooted, and can be let out of the bag.
If your plants are going to be outside, you will need to acclimate them.
**Now that I've clipped all the stems off, you can see the directionality of the original nursery pot...
Step 7: Acclimating Your Cuttings
Do NOT stick newly developed cuttings out in bright sun light, even if they are sun-lovers, because they will get horribly sunburned like this poor succulent there. You will need to slowly acclimate them to increasing amounts of sunlight, called "hardening off".
The traditional method is to take your plant outside each day, and leaving it out for an hour longer each time... But I am wayy too lazy for that, so I will put the cuttings in a spot that is shady all day. Then in 2 or 3 days, move it to a spot that gets shady after 10 AM. Then to a spot that gets shady after noon, and so on, until the cuttings are fully acclimated.
And there you have it: easy way to get new plants for free, or in my case, a big, handsome plant from a $2 nursery pot! (Hopefully - will update in a few weeks)
Hope this was clear and helpful. Happy rooting!
Step 8: Experimental
I gave this small pot of "fish hooks" succulent a drastic haircut and used the same method here. The only minor difference is I domed up the potting soil in an attempt to make it look fuller, kinda like a push-up bra for plants...
Oh and because the soil is domed up, I covered it with some non-slip spongy liner (used to line kitchen drawers) so that watering won't wash the soil away.
I've been keeping it watered, and loosely covered with a large piece of clear plastic, (only took it off for the picture). Some of the cuttings started out with roots already on them, and have grown very fast, but others are stubbornly resistant and getting dried out... I'm tempted to take out all the non-rooting ones and use my other method for succulent cuttings to get them to root faster, but it would be pretty tedious. So is the lazy or the impatient side of me gonna win out? :P
Here's the method I use for succulents if you're interested: