Introduction: Perennial Propagation From Cuttings
If your friend has a plant that you like and would like to have at home, or you have something you want to share or just have more of, depending on the plant, you can propagate more by rooting stem cuttings. In this example I used Lythrum but this process can be used with a number of plants. Mums, Dusty Miller and impatiens are easy ones to work with.
What is needed
-a healthy donor plant
-plastic planting packs -plastic trays
-soilless seed starting mix
-vermiculite or perlite
-garden shears or scissors
-honey or rooting compound
Step 1: Getting Started
You may find that you get better results if you take your cuttings in the morning while the plants have the most internal moisture. Prepare the planting packs by filling them with sand or whatever you are using. Use the pencil to poke holes in the sand for the stems.
At the host plant, simply snip 5-6" pieces from the ends of branches, making your cuts just below places where leaves branch off. When you have enough cuttings to fill you packs, lightly grasp midway up the stem between your thumb, index and middle finger. Pull the stem upward to strip off all the lower leaves.
Snip off some of the lower stem to insure that you aren't trying to root dry plant material. Dip the stem into the rooting compound or honey. If the rooting powder doesn't stick, moisten the stem tip and dip again. Insert the bottom ends of the stems into the holes in the planting medium and press the medium in around the stems. When the container has been planted, gently water to settle the sand etc. around the stem.
Place the container in a tray and place in a war, bright spot but not in direct sunlight. Add a little water to the tray so it soaks into the sand in the planted container. I start under fluorescent lights, keeping the starts 1-2" from the tubes. Check the sand daily to make sure it doesn't dry out.
Step 2: Almost There
Patience is a virtue, especially in gardening. Propagation is no different. Continue to monitor your starts daily, keeping them moist but not soaked. Too much water may cause the stems to rot. The stems will droop for the first few days until they start to send out roots and can take in enough water. You could mist the plants. You should have good root systems going in 3-4 weeks with new leaves coming on. Once you have good growth the starts can be transplanted to individual pots or to the garden.
This technique also works for many shrubs but do your research on the variety you want to try.