Pruning & Propagating in the Garden

Our weather this year has been unusually warm, so our plants and trees have been behind their usual fall schedule. Some of our deciduous trees and our grapevines still have leaves, and they are usually bare by now. Since the weather has been so strange, I procrastinated my usual fall pruning so we would have a bit more time with a full, colorful garden. I also didn’t want to do the pruning until it was more likely that the random heat waves were behind us.

Now that it is almost January, it is starting to get cool and some rain, so I decided it was finally time to start some pruning. About a week ago, I pruned back all of our Mexican sage. My son was crying and yelling “what you doin’?!”. I explained to him that I was giving the plants a big haircut, which he seemed to understand, and he then happily followed me around while I pruned the rest of the sage plants. 🙂

Today, I went through and pruned our lavender, African daisies, coleus, iresine, Persian shield, fucshias, and geraniums (I’ve been pruning my Martha Washington geraniums a little bit at a time for the past few months).

I apologize for the cell phone pictures…my wonderful husband is spending his vacation time remodeling my office/studio again, so my computer and real camera are hidden away at the moment.

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Most of the plants that I pruned today are very easy to propagate. I got a lot of new baby plants started today from my cuttings, which is always exciting. I am not a certified master gardener or anything (yet), but here I have learned a lot about propagating from trial and error over the years.

I love my coleus when it is well pruned. I try to keep it growing bushy, and not leggy by trimming the stems just above a node, where there are two offshoots, just as you would do with basil. I also pinch off the flower buds every few days.

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Once I had all of my clippings, here are the steps I follow to propagate these plants:
1. Trim stem with clean, sharp scissors, at a 45 degree angle just below a node.
2. Remove bottom 2-3 sets of leaves.
3. Pinch/trim off any flowers.
4. Discard any cuttings that look weak from insect damage.
5. Dip cut end of stem in cutting powder and insert into water or moist soil.
6. Put cuttings in water in a window with indirect light. Put cuttings in soil in greenhouse.

The following plants have worked best for me rooting in moist soil: coleus and geraniums. I also tried rooting Dusty Miller in soil for the first time today. Hoping it goes well. 🙂

These plants have worked best for me rooting in water: Persian shield, iresine, and fucshias. I also tried rooting some geraniums in water this time, just to try something different.

Making new plants from cuttings is one of my favorite parts of gardening. My succulent collection originally started with just two little plants from a dollar store and quickly filled up our living room just from propagating. 🙂 This is one of my favorite collections of plants I’ve propagated, near our front door.

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Usually, spring and fall are the best times to propagate. I have successfully propagated almost year round here in Southern California (minus heat waves in the summer). If you are in SoCal, now is a great time to get out and try making your own baby plants!

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