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Soft Stem Cuttings Provide Colorful Plants

In 1878 James Vick, nineteenth century seed merchant, in his garden magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly mentioned cuttings as a way to propagate a plant.

He said, “The most rapid method of propagating this plant [Dracaena congesta] is by cuttings of this stem.

“The stem may be cut into pieces an inch in length, and these pieces split in two, and all of these bits will root and become plants.”

Another customer asked Vick: “Can choice seedling Verbenas be kept through the winter? If so, what is the best way?”

Again he recommended cuttings.

Vick wrote, “Verbenas will not do very well in the house.

“The only plan is to start plants from cuttings in the autuum and keep them in a cool room.”

The growth of plants through cuttings was a popular method of propagating in the nineteenth century.

New Article

The magazine The American Gardener recently featured a wonderful article by gardener Dee Nash called “Propagating with Soft Stem Cuttings.”

She gives modern advice about a very old method of propagating plants.

Dee really motivated this reader in such words as:

“Short of growing plants from seed, there is no easier or cheaper way to create drifts of color in the garden.”

She recommends you experiment by trying a soft stem cutting from a plant like a coleus, making it fun and easy to do.

This Summer

Well, that’s what I did this past summer on my balcony.

A friend gave me a cutting from the beautiful coleus called ‘Under the Sea Barracuda.’ [below]

Coleus ‘Under the Sea Baracuda’ [Hort Couture]

I put the leaf cutting in a glass jar with water and left it outside in the sun for a couple of weeks.

Roots devloped without a problem.

Then I planted the stem in a container of good potting soil.

Wihin a few days I had a healthy coleus in glorious colors on my balcony.

Growing a new soft stem plant with a cutting is an old practice whose worth continues to offer the gardener an option, still encouraged and as popular as ever.

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