I am in a swap for cuttings and I decided to learn how to get them started. I made a simple propagation chamber from common items you can find in any home center. The total cost was fairly inexpensive because just about everything can be used over and over. (I would recommend not reusing the seed starting mix to keep fungus and other diseases to a minimum. You can simply put the used mix into your composter or garden. I used less than 1/4 bag.)
clear plastic box with lid $2.37
unglazed terracotta pot .87
small amount plumbers putty
soil less seed starting mix $3.47
rooting hormone $5.19
spray bottle $1.19
The first step is to place the plumbers putty or silicone into the hole in the bottom of the pot. This will allow the pot to hold water. It is important to use an unglazed pot for this part of the process so that water will slowly seep through it which keeps the growing medium moist.
Place the plugged pot into the bottom of the clear container. Begin to put the seed starting mix into the container in increments of about 1/2 inch and spritz well with the spray bottle. This helps moisten the medium evenly. Continue to fill and spritz until the box is about half full and pat down lightly. Your propagation chamber is now ready to use.
Now the fun begins! One of the easiest plants I have found to propagate is the geranium. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been taking cuttings from a plant I got from my late grandmother. The process is simple. Take the desired cutting. Dip in rain water, well water or other untreated water or you can allow tap water to sit out uncovered overnight. Place a small amount of the rooting hormone onto a disposable plate (this keeps the contents of the bottle clean and dry) and dip the cut, moistened end of the plant into the hormone.
Using your finger or pencil make a small hole into the seed starting mix in your propagator. Carefully place the cutting into the hole so as not to wipe off the rooting hormone. Use your fingers to snug the cutting into place.
Continue placing in the desired cuttings until the chamber is full. You can get quite a few cuttings into each chamber. The one pictured here has several cuttings of golden euonymous, native plum, nanking bush cherries, Manchurian bush apricot, and 4 colors of geraniums. I am not sure if everything will root, but half the fun is in the learning process. The last step before putting on the lid and placing the propagator in filtered light is to fill the pot with rain water.
Every couple days remove the lid to allow for fresh air to circulate. Check to see that the seed starting mix is still moist. If necessary, re wet the growing medium using the spray bottle. After spraying, allow any leaves on the cuttings to dry before placing the lid back on.
In a couple weeks your little starts should begin to develop roots...some will take longer than others. To tell if the plants have roots, gently give them a little tug. If you feel resistance, your little plants probably have roots. You can now remove them from the propagator and plant into individual pots.
The best part is in sharing your little starts with friends. Come on back to My Little Corner of the World in a couple weeks for updates. Kim