Intro: Propagate Plants the Easy Way...With Easy to Make Mini-Greenhouses
An ancient practice for many gardeners has always been propagating plants from healthy specimens on hand. The obvious reasons are to save money, but it's a good way to increase the landscape plants one needs to cover a given area. You also know what you are getting as the young plants are clones of the "mother" plant. I have shown how to make mini-greenhouses that should last long enough to insure the growth or formation of good root systems. The new plants can then be transplanted to pots, or into the ground as you choose.
Step 1: Get Cardboard Blanks Ready
Here, I measured the potting tubs that I wanted to use, and decided to make two greenhouses. I therefore needed two cardboard blanks of 14x17in.
Step 2: Trim Some Plastic Bags to Fit the Blanks
These are regular grocery bags, and will insure the water resistance of the cardboard. The greenhouses don't have to be water proof, as we only need them for a short while.
Step 3: Glue Plastic to Cardboard With Spray Adhesive
This step is self explanatory...other, heavier plastic film can be used as well. Whatever you have on hand and suits the need.
Step 4: Score and Cut the Cardboard/Plastic Blanks As Shown
I wanted a 4 inch edge so scored the cardboard at about 3 and 3/4 inch to allow for folding. This can be done before the plastic is glued in place. Cut out the four corners so that you can fold the edges up and tape them in place.
Step 5: Check Fit of Plant Trays
Make sure your tray fits easily. Then proceed to step six.
Step 6: Tape "Greenhouses" Together.
I used box tape to tack the ends together as shown. Later, a heavier piece of tape was applied to insure the strength of the joint. Again, these don't have to be elaborate, as they will only be used for a short while.
Step 7: Select Cuttings From Healthy Plants
It's best to gather cuttings in mid spring as this is when the plant(s) are at their peak growing stage. Carefully select growing ends that have several leaves attached. Cut about a 2 to 4 inch piece that you have selected for propagating. Use a sharp, clean cutting instrument such as a scalpel or even very sharp scissors.
Step 8: Have Planting Media Ready to Accept Cuttings.
Any good sterile garden potting mix, clean sand, perlite, vermiculite, etc. can be used as a potting media. I have not had a problem using regular potting mix, but have made special mixtures as the need arises. Consulting experts through gardening books is a good idea, always.
Step 9: Dip Each Cutting Into Rooting Hormone.
Rooting hormone aids in the formation of new roots on the cuttings. This can be obtained at plant nurseries or wherever plants are sold.
Step 10: Insert Cuttings Into Holes Pre-Drilled in Potting Soil
Carefully place cuttings so that the rooting hormone is not wiped off as you insert the stem. The soil mix has been pre-soaked so that watering will not be necessary and will not wash off any of the rooting hormone.
Step 11: Cover Greenhouses With Plastic Wrap or Any Clear Piece of Plastic
Plastic wrap is easily available, and can be secured with a rubber band. Place greenhouses in bright light, but NOT direct sunlight as you don't want to "cook" the cuttings. Check progress from time to time, and if desired, you can spray or mist the cuttings. Within two to three weeks you should have firmly rooted cuttings, ready to be transplanted. With six cuttings done this way, you have just saved about 30 bucks! Congratulations!
Step 12: Young Successful Clone Plants
Other plants are eligible for this treatment as well. One of the pictues shows two varieties of sweet potato plants, easily and successfully propagated.