Introduction: Apartment Gardening
Hello! Today I am going to be discussing some simple gardening techniques that can be used for indoor plants. This tutorial is for beginning gardeners, or those who want to review their knowledge. First off, I will discuss the different parts of a plant that will need to be identified properly to complete this tutorial successfully. Then I will discuss two propagation, or asexual reproduction techniques that can be used to make new plants. Lastly, I will talk about some general care tips for your indoor plants.
For this tutorial you will need:
- A plant you would like to propagate
- A cutting instrument, I generally use a razor blade but a sharp knife can be used
- A small pot with soil
- Optional: rooting powder
Note: Rooting powder can be helpful for the growth of your new plant but is not necessary; it speeds up the development of roots on plant cuttings. If you would like to use rooting powder I would recommend the brand Rootone.
Step 1: Plant Info
The propagation methods we will use today are asexual or vegetative.
Asexual Propagation: Involves the use of a plant part to create a new plant.
In other words, we will be cutting off a part of a plant to make a different plant. Because only one plant was involved in the creation of the new plant this means that the new plants produced will be genetically identical to the parent plant. Asexual reproduction is the most common method of reproduction for houseplants - it is fast, easy, and can be performed at any time during the year. These cuttings are softwood stem cuttings which work on a variety of plants such as the Begonia family, Coleus, and the Inch plant.
Above/below is a diagram of the parts of a plant. The parts are labeled on the picture. The most important term to know for this tutorial is the node.
Node: The part of the plant where the leaf meets the stem.
Internode: The part of the stem that is between nodes.
Petiole: The stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem of the plant.
Bud: The small growth between the stem and the petiole.
Other definitions that will be needed for this tutorial are as follows.
Plant Cuttings: The samples taken from the parent plant; will grow into the new plant.
Media/Medium: The soil and other material that the plant resides in.
Polarity: The direction of the cutting in the medium. The direction of the cutting should always match the direction of the original plant.
Step 2: Propagation Intro
Today I will explain how to perform two types of vegetative propagation: Tip cuttings and Medial Cuttings. Tip cuttings are taken from the tip of the stem, and medial cuttings are taken from the middle of the stem, as both names suggest. Again, you are going to need a plant, a new pot, and new soil for the plant cutting.
Step 3: Getting Samples
The first step to getting a new plant is cutting samples. The process will be slightly different for the different techniques.
WARNING: USE CAUTION WHEN USING A RAZOR/KNIFE
To perform a tip cutting:
- Measure 3 to 6 inches below the tip of a stem, making sure to include several nodes. See the picture for reference.
- Make a diagonal cut with a razor or knife right below a node.
- Remove leaves at the bottom of the cutting to avoid the medium when planted
In this example, I show a tip cutting. If you roll over the picture, I include three nodes in my cutting.
A medial cutting is taken directly below where a tip cutting was made. Again:
- Measure 3 to 6 inches below where the tip cutting was made. See the picture for reference.
- Make a diagonal cut with your tool of choice right below a node. As before, ensure that the cutting has 3 to 4 nodes
- Remove leaves near the bottom of the sample after cutting
Step 4: Potting
The next step is to pot the cutting. This method can be used for either type of propagation method used. The polarity of the cutting is the most important part of potting. The part of the cutting that has its leaves removed should be facing down, and be put into the medium. See the picture for reference. Fill your pot with your medium. Then, put the cutting in the medium, and press the medium in around the sample so it stays upright.
Step 5: Plant After Care
Now that you have your cutting planted, it’s time to discuss plant care. A plant needs 3 things to continue to grow happily: a source of light, water, and the proper container or pot.
Water is the most important part of plant care; a plant cannot survive without water. Each type of plant requires a different amount of watering at different frequencies. Unfortunately the signs that a plant is being underwatered are the same as the plant being overwatered. That being said, here are some signs that you might be watering your plant incorrectly:
- Yellow leaves
- Leaves falling off
- Plant not growing
It is important to watch for these signs; if your plant is being watered incorrectly it could die.
Light is a crucial component of plant growth. If you plan to house your plant near a window, the sunlight from the window will be sufficient. As an alternative, LED lights can be used; LEDs provide the necessary wavelength range for plants to thrive. Again, each plant is different and will require different amounts and intensities of light. Some warning signs that your plant is getting too much light are:
- Leaf scorching
- Leaves look bleached/lighter than normal
- Leaves are curled
Some warning signs that your plant isn’t getting enough light are:
- Long sections of the stem don’t have leaves growing
- Leaves are yellow and fall off
- Flower buds don’t form, if the plant is flowering
The container a plant lives in is very important, especially for a growing plant cutting. If the container is too small, the plant’s growth can be stunted. A container should also have proper drainage so the plant is not sitting in water. Some signs that a plant should be moved to a new pot are:
- Roots growing out of the bottom of the pot
- Plant requires frequent watering
- Reduced or no growth
These are just some tips to help your plant grow, and be healthy. Good luck, and happy gardening!