Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Propagate Lavender

For one of my projects this term, I have to do a report (and oral presentation) about propagating an edible plant. Lavender counts, right?

So I gathered the necessary supplies for rooting cuttings.
-Rooting hormone of your choice (please read the label to make sure that it is strong enough for what you're trying to root!). They come in powders and liquid. If you use liquid, you're going to have to dilute it out. Again, please read the directions on the bottle. 
- Peat Moss. You can go with peat or coir. The store didn't have any coir though. We'll save the discussion about the no-so-environmental-savvy-ness of peat for another time. For getting cuttings to root, you need something that retains a lot of water.  

Which brings me to the next point. You don't want gigantic pots to start your cuttings in. It will take a ton of water to keep the media moist enough for your baby clones to survive. Use a pot that has plugs just big enough for your cuttings. 

Then you fill you pot with the growing media of choice, and wet the stuff down. You want it wet enough that it clumps, but not so much that water oozes from it when you give it a squeeze.
Following the directions on the bottle of glorified auxin (rooting hormone), I diluted it out to the appropriate strength. If you just dip the cutting straight into the bottle you will a)introduce pathogens into the community bottle and b)you just made an herbicide and will now grow your plant to death.
 For my project, I ended up with waaaay more rooting hormone than I needed... You don't need much. Just enough to dip the tips of your cuttings in. 
Next, grab your cuttings. Mine happen to be lavender (Sarah to be precise). You don't need much. Just enough to have about 3 nodes to dip in the rooting hormone and then a few leaves to remind you that they're still there. You don't want many leaves because they will lose water. Not enough water = dead plant.  
So, take your cutting, and strip the leaves to expose the nodes (the spots where the leaves are growing). These zones are where the plant will grow roots from. By removing the leaves, you're telling the plant to grow roots instead.  
To get a better look at the nodes. There are 4 shown here. 
Now dip the exposed nodes into the rooting hormone. If you have a powder, you will have a small cup of water and a small cup of the powder. First dip the cutting into the water, then the powder (it helps the powder to stick). But with my liquid, the cutting just goes for a quick dip.  
And into the prepared pot it goes! Mine is just a re-used veggie pack from last year that was cleaned out to make sure that no pathogens get to the cuttings. 
And voila! You have lavender (or thyme, or rosemary, or or or or or...) cuttings. Keep the babies damp and in place with cooler air and warmer ground. Then your little hopefuls will grow roots. 

No project is complete without a cat hanging around. ;)  

Until next time!

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