Plant Parenting: Seeds Won't Germinate? Take Plant Cuttings Instead.

June 17, 2019

While seeds often come to mind first when you're thinking about starting new plants, seeds aren't always the best propagation method for you. When you are unable to collect seed from your chosen plant or the seeds are innately difficult to collect, purchase, or sow, that’s when vegetative propagation, or cloning, is a better option.

African Violet Cutting

African Violet Cutting
When I accidentally broke off the crown of this African violet, I decided to water root it.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Taking a vegetative cutting from your mother plant, then rooting it using an appropriate method for your specific plant, can be a much faster way to get more of the plants you love. It's also the best way to get around hard to germinate seeds.

Learn more about all the different types of plant cuttings in my new book PLANT PARENTING

Collecting Seeds from Your Garden: Asclepias

June 15, 2019

Propagating plants from seed is relatively simple and saving seed from your harvest can be an easy and inexpensive way to grow more of your favorite flowers and food.

Mature butterfly weed seeds are dry and ready to save or sow.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

When you have plants growing in your garden that you want to save seed from, you'll want to allow the seed to mature and dry completely on the plant. Some plants, such as the Asclepias (milkweed) you see in the photo, have obvious seed pods that will dry and turn a brown color when the seeds are ready. Asclepias pods will start to pop up when the seeds are ready to disperse.

You can cut off the entire seed pod and store them, or remove the seeds from the pod and store them. Always store seeds in a cool dry place in containers that won't retain any moisture.

You can learn much more about starting and saving seeds in my book Plant Parenting

Plant Propagation: Rooting Cuttings in Water

June 12, 2019

Are you a new plant parent? Many plants, such as these assorted tropical houseplants and herbs below, can be propagated simply by taking cuttings from the plant and rooting them in water.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Depending on the type of plants and their natural environment, plants typically fall into two propagation groups: seeds and vegetative cuttings (also called cloning). Some plants are more easily propagated by seed, and others by cuttings. Some plants are easily propagated using both methods.

Not all plants root well in water - it's a race to root before they rot! So you'll find that you can have easy success water rooting many fleshy tropicals, but semi-woody or woody cuttings can be more difficult. Make sure to keep the water clean - change it if it starts to get cloudy. You can use any clear vessel of any color to root your cuttings.

To learn more about water rooting and all forms of plant propagation, get my new book Plant Parenting

Plant Parents: Ready to multiply?

June 11, 2019

Not all plants can be propagated the same way or under the same growing conditions. If you’ve struggled to get your succulents to root before they rot or can’t seem to get your lettuce seed to germinate, I'm going to get you on the right track with my new book Plant Parenting: Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables, and Flowers.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Plants use a variety of reproductive strategies. Some plants multiply most easily via seeds. Some plants are also easily propagated by taking vegetative cuttings. Some plants do it all! In the photo you can see an African violet leaf petiole cutting, aeonium tip stem cutting, and an avocado seed, each rooting in water.

Learn more in my new book Plant Parenting

Grow Lights: What are Lumens?

March 24, 2019

The measurement of lumens tells you how much light you can expect to see from a given lamp, or the total amount of light output. Lumens per watt (LPW) is used to measure the efficiency of a lamp, or how much electricity a lamp converts into light versus heat.

Most grow lamps will provide you with a Lumens output, a measure of visual brightness.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Remember, plants and people see and use light differently. A light source may seem bright to your eye, but that doesn’t mean it’s better for plants.

Gardening Under Lights Book

Aphids on Peppers

March 23, 2019

When grown outdoors, peppers are a tough and pest resistant crop. Not much likes to munch on pepper foliage or the hot fruit. However, once you grow peppers indoors you'll find there are some pests that can be an issue. Aphids are a common on new pepper plant foliage when grown indoors and on pepper seedlings you're growing indoors to plant outdoors. .

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Aphids can be difficult to treat as they are persistent on indoor crops. Best methods for control include: sticky traps, horticultural oils, and spinosad sprays.

Gardening Under Lights Book

Why Aren't My Tomatoes Ripening?

March 22, 2019

Are you growing tomatoes indoors, or growing them outdoors in a cool climate? Gardeners in cool climates often struggle to get tomatoes to ripen before temperatures get too cold.

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Tomatoes grow well with daytime temperatures between 70°F and 90°F (21–32°C) and a drop night temperatures to between 55°F and 75°F (13–24°C). Night temperatures above 85°F (29°C) can cause heat delay, where plants don’t set fruit. Cooler temperatures will slow or stop ripening.

If you live in a warm climate, and planted fall tomatoes, you might also struggle to get them to ripen once night temperatures get too cool in fall.

If you're growing tomatoes in your outdoor garden, but just can't get them to ripen, you're going to need to warm it up! If you haven't figured out how to control the weather (slacker), then consider bringing the plants indoors, under grow lights, to provide warmer temperatures and fruit ripening.

New BOOK! Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers

Grow Cuttings in an Automatic Propagator

March 21, 2019

You can fill your propagator with multiple types of cuttings. Don't just limit yourself to one kind of plant. This way, you can propagate your entire garden at once!

Cuttings of salvia, tomatoes, citrus, and more in the propagator.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

There are a number of automatic propagator, or cloning machines, available for you to root cuttings. This is an aeroponic propagator, which sprays a mist of water continuously onto the bottoms of cuttings until they form roots.

Gardening Under Lights Book

Back to top

Tips in your inbox


Sign up for the E-Newsletter for my latest green industry news updates for pros + plant and gardening hobbyists.