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October 24, 2015

QuestionI need some help in rooting small bushes and plants. I can't root anything. I snip the cuttings about 6" and I've tried putting them in water with no luck. I've bought root hormone and it doesn't work either. I've tried getting cuttings at different times of the year, mainly in the spring. What am I doing wrong? I would really like to root cuttings from a Japanese maple, Gardenia and a Camellia that I have growing in my yard.



  Timing could be part of the problem, and also the type of plants you are trying to root.  Some plants root at the drop of a hat, while others can be a bit more finicky.  For most woody plants, taking cuttings in mid to late June through early July is the easiest time to root.  The stems have had a chance to harden off from new spring growth, but they aren’t overly woody.  The woodier the cutting is, the longer it will take to root.  Take cuttings that are three to four inches in length. Strip off any foliage at the base of the cuttings.  Get a pot and fill it with fresh, sterile potting soil that has been moistened to the consistency of a run out sponge.  Then put your cuttings in.  Use a rooting hormone if you have one.  Then place the pot with cuttings inside a clear plastic bag.  Put it in a bright window indoors—out of direct sunlight and be patient.  You have just created a mini-greenhouse to keep the humidity up while rooting is taking place.  With woody cuttings it can take months and especially now in the cooler months of fall and winter.  Leave the cuttings sealed up for a month or two and then see what has happened


July 2012

QuestionI recently picked a mess of dry seed pods off some lily type flowers. I would like to plant the seeds and am hoping you will tell me if this will work. For some reason, I thought day lilies came up from bulbs!


AnswerMany bulbous type plants, including daylilies, tiger lilies and even daffodils and tulips set seeds as well from the spent flowers. It takes a while to get a blooming plant from a seed of a daylily or Asiatic lily, but it is doable. Just lightly cover the seeds with soil and be patient. It usually takes two years before you see a flower, but you will get plants much sooner. A quicker method of propagation is to divide the plant. Many gardeners like to experiment. If you have a lot of daylilies, they will cross pollinate so you will get a different bloom.

July 2012

QuestionWhen is the best time to take a cutting from a crape myrtle tree to start a new plant?


AnswerCrape myrtles can be rooted from cuttings taken from late May through mid July. The key is to take semi-hardwood cuttings—the new growth that has started to harden off a bit. The cuttings should be around 3-5 inches in length and contain no flowers or seed heads.

June 2012

QuestionIs it possible to take cuttings from a hydrangea and start new in another location? I want to bring some memories of a loved one to my home.


AnswerHydrangeas root quite easily. Make sure there are no flowers on the cuttings you are trying to root, but take tip cuttings no more than 3-4 inches in length and put them in moist, sterile potting soil. I like to root inside a large plastic bag, so the humidity stays high, but if you do this, make sure they are not getting any direct sunlight. If you know the person who has the original plant, another easy method is to layer a low branch of the plant in the soil. This method allows the plant to root while it is still attached. Once roots have formed, you can cut and replant.

August 2010

QuestionIn the early summer I purchased two pots of the dark large leaf begonia plant. They were so pretty but have only gone backward since purchased. They wilt and rot at the soil line. What can I do? Thanks for any help you can give me


AnswerRex begonias are fabulous foliage plants and there are so many new varieties that it is hard to resist them. I love the 'Escargot' variety and am growing it with good success this year. The key is to keep these Rex begonias in the shade--avoid direct afternoon sun at all costs. They can be quite susceptible to crown rot if they are in heavy soil or are kept too wet. If you have them in containers with other plants and you are watering a lot, that could be an issue. They would prefer to dry out in between watering. Plants wilt if they are too wet, just like they do if too dry. If they have crown rot, the damage is usually at the soil line, cutting off the supply of food and water to the tops. Cut off the damaged tissue and try to reroot the top portion. Hope this helps.

November 2010

QuestionI have a crape myrtle tree that has many shoots or suckers growing around the trunk. Can I dig one up and replant it and expect it to grow? Do I need to do anything to it?


AnswerMany of the suckers on your crape myrtles will be devoid of roots as they are attached to the mother plant. You can root these shoots, but you could not take them off the plants now and leave them outdoors. They would not survive the winter. You could try rooting them inside in a container with potting soil. Crape myrtles root rather easily from cuttings taken June – August. I find it easiest when rooting cuttings without a greenhouse, to take multiple cuttings—4- 6 inches in length and dip them in a rooting hormone, then put them in sterile moist potting soil. Put pot plus cuttings inside a clear plastic bag, seal that up and put it in a bright location, without direct sunlight. This will create a miniature greenhouse, with constant moisture and humidity and should aid in germination. The woodier the cutting the longer it will take to root.

May 2010

QuestionI have a raised berm with a mass planting of liriope. The bed is well established, but I am having a problem with weeds (both grass and broadleaf) where the liriope is a little thin. What can I use to handle the weed problem and what can I do to increase the density of the liriope in the thin spots?


AnswerThere is not a broadleaf weed killer that you could use that wouldn’t also harm the liriope. Try to hand-pull or hoe the broadleaf weeds. For the grass, you can use a grass-specific herbicide such as Grass-b-gone, Ornamec, Over-the-top, etc. Liriope is in the lily family so will not be affected by the grass herbicide. The key is to catch the grass when it begins to run. Then put down a good layer of mulch. To thicken up your stand of liriope, either divide some of your larger plants or plant a few more where you have bare spots. A light application of a slow release nitrogen fertilizer will also help.

July 2010

QuestionI have a smoke bush and would like to start a couple more from cuttings. How would I do that?


AnswerTake cuttings now and see what happens. Smoke tree is not the easiest plant to root. We like to take cuttings from woody plants in mid June through July. The new growth has had a chance to build some stability but isn't totally woody yet. Cuttings should be between 3-6 inches in length. I would suggest getting a large pot and filling it with fresh, sterile potting soil or peat moss. Take twice as many cuttings as you want to root. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone--Rootone, Dip'n Grow or similar product, and then put the cuttings inside the container and put pot and all inside a clear plastic bag. Put the bag in the shade and leave it alone. The humidity and moisture levels should stay high. After 8 weeks, check the cuttings to see if they have rooted. They will need to be kept in the container all winter and planted next spring, but the plastic bag can come off if they are rooted. Good Luck.

April 2009

QuestionWhat is the procedure I would use to root and produce more plants from my Knockout Roses? I love the plants, but I don’t have a lot of money to buy many more and was hoping I could grow my own.


AnswerActually, the Knock Out Roses are patented plants. This means that legally, they cannot be propagated without express permission from the patent holder—in this case Conard Pyle, for 20 years from the date of filing. Many people feel that for personal use—not commercially for resale, even if a plant has a patent, it is ok to take cuttings and start new plants to use in your own garden. However, if you follow the law, no propagation whether for sale or for personal use is possible. To know whether a plant is patented or not, there should be a PP# on the tag of the plant that is sold. Sorry. You may want to look at getting some roses that aren’t patented, and propagate those.

October 2005

QuestionWhat part of a Magnolia tree is planted to grow another tree? What time of year?


AnswerMagnolias can be started from seeds, cuttings or layering. You should be seeing mature, ripe seed pods now. The cones containing the seeds will begin to darken and dry, and the emerging red seeds will be visible. Try to harvest as soon as they are ripe, and begin the process as soon as possible. Don’t store the seeds for later use. Take the seeds and remove the outer pulp. TO help break the hard outer seed coat, lightly rub the seeds between a sheet of sand paper. Then place the seeds in a plastic bag filled with moist peat moss or potting soil. Place that in your refrigerator for several months, then pot up and wait for growth. The combination of scarification (the abrading of the outer seed coat) and stratification (the cool, moist storage period) should result in seedlings. Of course, this happens naturally outdoors. You can create a “nursery” bed outside, and plant numerous seeds in the ground, and then wait for them to grow next spring. Cuttings are best taken in June to July from new growth that has gradually hardened off. An easier method than cuttings is to layer some of the lower limbs of the tree. Take a low hanging branch and lightly wound it on the bottom and mound soil over it. Weight it down, and wait until next spring. By then it should have sprouted roots.

December 2009

Questiony sister has a beautiful camellia bush that is about 10 to 12 tall with pink blooms. She is always bringing me flowers from it. How can I get a start of it? I have tried before but I am not too good with flowers


AnswerCamellia’s can be propagated from cuttings, layering and seed. This past year they set a copious amount of seed pods which look like small crabapples. The pods pop open to expose the seeds, which can be planted immediately or if stored, should be soaked in warm water before sowing. Layering is one of the easiest methods of propagation and simply lets you take a low growing branch which you then layer it in and out of the soil. Where the stem is underground (weighted down with a rock or brick) it will put out roots. Once rooted, you can cut it off and move it. Cuttings are best taken from May through September, but have been known to root in other months as well. The key to success with camellias is to give them filtered sunlight or morning sun, a well drained soil that is acidic with organic matter mixed in. Water when dry


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