Tis the (wrong) season for cuttings but what else does a plant enthusiast do in the winter?

It’s been a while since I updated my garden / plants blog…. say like, a year and a half.  But I’ve been inspired by a couple of good blogs I’ve found from other folks similar to me in their hobby level, and trying similar projects, so I thought I’d start up again – especially as we’re now in the beginning of winter and I’m tinkering around with house plants.

First, I thought I’d do an update on the snake plant (Sansevieria) I took over from Mike about the time I was posting last.  As a reminder, we had one that was slowly dying that Mike had inherited from his Mom.  He estimated it was old… as in, they had in the house when he was growing up, and he figured it didn’t owe anyone much at this point.  It had been knocked over by the pets several times, and generally was unhappy.  I had decided to repot it in cactus mix soil (he had used general potting mix) and choose a different, larger pot, and I hadn’t realized how much it had been thriving until I found the original post from back then when I was trying to save the last little big of plant from root rot.  Here’s what it looked like back then vs now:

Circa June 2014
Circa December 2015

The plants has several very tall spikes, and the roots must be doing well because both the larger and smaller terracotta pot this summer gave us two new “pups”.  Hopefully they continue to thrive and fill out the pot so they can be a bit less floppy.  Since it’s winter I expect that we’ll see a slow down in the growth for a while, but I may need to pull them out and repot them relatively soon just due to the fact that the root system is creating craters in the soil every time I waterand they are slowly sinking in the pot as the plant grows bigger.  Overall, this one is a success.

It did inspire me to cut a leaf off the smaller plant back in the fall, segment it, and try my hand at propagating to create a new pot for our renovated office desks at work.  I have a pothos there now, but I’m honestly a bit bored with that – those are beginning level for propagators, I think they might be the easiest thing in the world to divide and regrow – and wanted to try something more challenging.

snake rootThe cats forced my hand again a short bit into that experiment, as they knocked one of the small pots off the table where I had put it for some afternoon sun – but that give me a sneak peak at the fact that the cuttings I had taken were actually working.  I had done half with rooting hormone, and half with standard honey (a trick I had read online) – but foolishly forgot to label which ones were which.  If I remember correctly, I think the honey cuttings were actually growing faster than the hormone.  The real lesson there was “labelling is critical because you think you will remember, but you won’t.” This is what it had looked like around mid-October.

The impressive part of this is that I used standard peat moss (and probably needed a mix with better drainage), did it at the “Wrong” time of year (spring and summer should be better than fall), but I HAD been occasionally using a heat mat – and that appeared to do the trick.  I took the knocked over cuttings and put them in cactus mix in a small pot and took it into work.  I sit on the wrong side of the building for afternoon sun, but I’ve been using a halogen desk lamp for more focused light and a bit more heat.  No signs of new plants popping up yet, but the cuttings themselves still look relatively healthy so I’m just waiting for new pups to pop up.

snake cuttings

Around the same time I took those cuttings, I also tried to take cuttings from a large schefflera I had left over from my father’s funeral.  It’s a large pot, about five feet tall, with three plants that are single non-branching canes.  Not knowing better at the time, the cuttings I took were petioles – essentially leaf-stems for the compound leafs, which is really NOT what you’re supposed to use.  One site had recommended cutting the leaves in half horizontally, so I tried one with and one without.

scheff.jpgAgain – wrong time of year, probably wrong potting mix, and the container I used was too small for how tall and heavy the cuttings were so I had to weight it down with change at the bottom of the saucer – but I finally noticed last week at the bottom of the cup that roots were visible.

Since I started this, I’ve learned a few things – petiole cuttings SHOULDN’T work, and scheffleras give people trouble in general because they need a lot of light and high humidity to root.  I had this on the upper shelf of a cabinet in the bathroom, which didn’t get much light, but probably hit the mark on humidity from the shower.  I’ve been researching online to find out what will happen with a petiole cutting if it roots successfully, and have yet to find much information or pictures about it since (I think) it’s not the way that you’re supposed to do it.  My hope is that once the root system gets established, it will eventually send up a new shoot since I doubt the leaf stem is going to magically grow branch nodes and turn into a new trunk.

So those are more current cuttings.

I’ll have more posts over the next few weeks over my other projects.  Sneak peaks:

  • Echavaria Succulents from seeds… as soon as they arrive!
  • My autumn seed collecting (morning glory, snap dragons, penstemon, foxglove!)
  • The unrecommended-but-necessary-division-and-replanting of a peony
  • Early christmas present – a fridge just for bulbs and tubers
  • Lily and gladiolus propagation
  • Convincing my sister to let me attempt air-layering on her dieffenbachia

Until then…


3 thoughts on “Tis the (wrong) season for cuttings but what else does a plant enthusiast do in the winter?

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