Plant Parenting: Seeds Can Vary Greatly in Size

June 30, 2019

Seeds of succulents and cactus can vary dramatically in size, shape, and hardness. Some are soft and barely bigger than a speck of dust (Lithops spp.), while others are large with hard seeds coats that require scarification (Tephrocactus spp.).

PC: Leslie F. Halleck

The size of your plant's seeds will determine how you sow them and how deep you plant them. Teeny tiny seeds can be planted using a seeder tool, which helps you plant tiny seeds at the correct spacing, without wasting or losing seeds!

Learn all about seeds and special germination techniques in my new book PLANT PARENTING


Plant Parenting: Recycle Plastic Containers for Plant Cuttings

June 30, 2019

You don’t always need fancy tools to propagate more plants. And if you’re looking to ways to recycle or buy less new plastic I show you some good tips in my new book PLANT PARENTING. I often reuse produce containers, like this container that held cherry tomatoes, as mini-greenhouses for starting cuttings or seeds. It’s the perfect little humidity dome with ventilation. There’s a happy little baby peperomia cutting in there! This would also be a great container to use for germinating cactus and succulent seeds, microgreens, or wheatgrass.

Recycled container for plant cuttings

Recycled container for plant cuttings
I rooted this peperomia cutting in potting mix in this recycled food container.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Recycled Plant Propagation Container

Recycled Plant Propagation Container
This cherry tomato container from the store is the perfect little cutting terrarium!

You can also use a variety of other plastic containers with clear covers. You know all those take out containers that come with clear plastic lids or small vegetable containers from restaurants or the grocery store? I use them frequently as mini-seed germination greenhouses.

This is a great way to stretch your gardening budget and to recycle and reuse this type of plastic. We are all looking for ways to reduce our plastic consumption and make our plant growing hobby more sustainable.

If you want to learn exactly how to take different types of plant cuttings, start seeds successfully, and discover cool plant propagation tools, check out my book PLANT PARENTING.


Plant Parenting: Flower Pollination

June 29, 2019

In the outdoor garden, wind, and pollinators, such as bees, wasps, butterflies, and a multitude of other insects, aid the pollination process. Insects are attracted to flowers as a source of food.

These bees are busy feeding on nectar from the scabiosa flowers. They are also moving pollen between the flowers.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

While visiting flowers, pollinators pick up pollen on their bodies. The insects then move the pollen around on the flower or transport it to other nearby flowers. It’s quite fun to watch and a great alternative to TV.

If you are growing fruiting plants, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, or peppers, you might have to do some hand pollination yourself to make sure flowers are pollinated and set fruit!

Learn more about the basics of pollination and hand pollination in my book PLANT PARENTING


Plant Parenting: Stretch Your Plant Budget with Seeds!

June 28, 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. You can often reuse and recycle household containers - and even used egg shells - to start your seeds. This is is a great way to avoid plastic and make your gardening efforts more sustainable.

Starting seeds - such as these peas - is an inexpensive way to make a lot more of the plants you love.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Seeds of annual plants generally don't require much special preparation. But seeds of perennials, wildflowers, and many succulents and cacti may require scarification or stratification preparation to germinate successfully.

Learn all about seeds and germinating techniques in my new book PLANT PARENTING



Plant Parenting: Rooting African Violet Leaf Cuttings

June 27, 2019

When you are a beginning plant propagator, one of the things you'll learn along the way is that not all plants can be propagated the same way. Different plant parts of a given plant may, or may not, have the ability to differentiate into new types of tissue - such as roots or shoots.

The cells in of this African violet leaf petiole can grow new root and shoot tissue, creating an entirely new plant. Not all plants have this potential.
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

The cutting you see in the photo is a leaf-petiole cutting of an African violet plant. The main leaf with a piece of the petiole (the part that attaches the leaf to the main crown or stem). The petiole tissue in African violet leaves has the ability (the totipotency) to grow new adventitious roots and bud shoots when it is damaged. You can root leaf-petiole cuttings of African violets in water or potting mix. A new baby plant will emerge from the base of the petiole.

Learn more about ALL types of vegetative plant cuttings in my new book PLANT PARENTING


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


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