2009-01-16 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Sharing Your Houseplants With Others
Commentary By Danielle McShane Danielle's Rockaway Florist

DANIELLE McSHANE DANIELLE McSHANE All gardeners enjoy watching their houseplants thrive. We take pleasure when new leaves and flowers begin to sprout, but sometimes we do such a good job caring for our plants that they grow too big. Rather than trimming it back and discarding the cuttings, you may want to propagate the plant and share it with friends. With very little effort, you can make enough small plants to share with the residents

of a local nursing home for the holidays, or to sell at a fundraiser for your favorite organization. Share your success! You may want to plant these cuttings in small pots as gifts for your friends, or to put greens and flowers in another room in your home. I am sure that all of us have left over terracotta pots or ceramic vases lying around that would be perfect for this project. Get creative…an old pitcher or decorative mug will add interest.

Successful new plants are started from healthy cuttings inserted into moist sand or soil. Growth during the first couple of months may be sluggish, but patience will be rewarded. You can propagate many types of house plants. African violets, rubber plants, pothos, ivy and weeping figs are just a few that are fairly easy to work with.

Look for a few healthy leaves on your own houseplants. On a kalanchoe for example, there should be no discoloration or damage. Begin with a strong, deeply colored leaf, and cut straight along the bottom to remove it from the main stalk. This will allow some sap to seep out and expose the inner part of the leaf. Try a few leaves, as not all of them may take. Place the cut portion of the leaves into a cup of loose, moist soil or sand- about ¼" deep, or enough to hold them upright. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and in about a month or so, you should see little sprouts emerging from the soil at the base of the leaf. Very gently brush away the soil or sand surrounding the base of the plant, and repot into a 2 or 4" pot of peat moss and sand or pearlite. After being repotted, gently pat down the soil around the new plant and treat it as a mature plant. With time, the growth will become stronger and stronger.

For any flowering plants, always begin the propagation process after they finish blooming. Among others, spider plants and lucky bamboo clippings can be put directly into a vase or bag of water. After about a week or two, they will begin to root.

Spider plants in particular are the easiest to propagate because the little "babies" sprouting from the mother plant usually begin to grow their own roots in just plain air.

Some plants are easier than others to work with. But, as an avid gardener, it is always worth a try, rather than just discarding any unruly or broken branches. The trick is to understand the natural growing habits, and to withstand from over-watering.

Feel free to visit us at www.DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com to see past columns, or write to us at 436 Beach 129 Street with your gardening questions or tips for our readers.

Wishing all of our friends and customers a happy and healthy 2009!

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