Cuttings to Grow Inside for Winter
By taking cuttings of some of your favorite plants in the fall, you can keep them over the winter to plant into pots to enjoy next spring. Many plants including coleus, geraniums, and begonias can be propagated easily.
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Cuttings to Grow Inside for Winter
One of the things that I like to do in my own garden, to save money and to also keep a few plants going, is to take cuttings of some of my favorite plants in the fall. Many of the coleus, geraniums, and some of the begonias that we all love in our pots will also overwinter well as cuttings.
It’s very difficult to bring the entire pot in, but you can take small cuttings, root them over the winter months, and then next spring plant them out in your containers. When you’re taking a cutting, all you really want is a four to six inch piece of the mother plant. We’re going to make the cut just below a node, or where a leaf comes out. We want to use a knife, not a pair of scissors, because scissors will smash or cut the tissue.
When you’re looking for what plant parts to take, you usually want to take a strong, vigorous shoot that’s fresh, succulent growth. You don’t want something real mature. You’ll want something that will grow and harden off a little bit, because that’s where your roots are going to be down here at the base of your stem.
You’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to taking cuttings, so just hunt and peck through your plant and find the ones that look the most strong and vigorous and healthy and take your cuttings from those.
Once you’ve made your initial cuttings, it’s time to do the final prep work. As we’ve said, the ideal cutting is about four to six inches long. You’ll want to remove a lot of the extra leaf growth, so it doesn’t have a lot of canopy to lose moisture. Ideally, you’ll want to make the cutting just below a node – that’s where the leaf would have come out. That’s where the rooting is going to develop.
A lot of times you make cuttings, too, to keep them from rotting. You can lay them out on the counter for a couple of hours. That will help to dry and seal the bottom of the cutting. It’s like a callous.
Another trick to help your cuttings to root is to use a product called a rooting hormone. This can be purchased at nurseries and garden centers for a few dollars. What you do is basically take your prepared cutting, dip it in the rooting hormone, and knock it off. That will provide the extra boost to help the cutting root during the winter months.
I just use a regular potting soil in a pot, and I like to stick four or five cuttings fairly thick in a pot. I’m not really growing these for a big, lush plant. I’m just growing these to get starts for next year. A lot of times you can take multiple cuttings in the spring to fill your pots. Take your knife or pencil, and just make a groove down into the soil, and insert your cutting. In a pot this size, I’ll easily put in five or six cuttings to help fill the pot.
Once the cuttings are stuck, you can wet the soil to settle the soil around them. Then, we’re going to place a plastic bag over the top of the cuttings to keep in the humidity. The other nice thing is that you won’t have to water very often. However, you’ll need to check from time to time to make sure that they do remain moist, but not wet.
When they’re in the rooting process with a bag, you won’t want to place them in direct sun. This is because they could heat up and basically cook our cuttings. So low light would be ideal. The ideal way to tell if the cuttings are rooted is to remove the bag and give them a slight pull. If there’s resistance, that tells us that the cuttings have started to develop roots. At that time the bag can be removed and your cuttings can be moved to a more sunny location so they’ll grow stronger and more vigorous over the winter months.
Then, when spring comes, you’ll have a pot full of cuttings for your containers for another season of color out in the garden.
This feature story prepared with Dennis Patton, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Johnson County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.