In Florida, summer is an ending. Most of the plants that did beautifully through the frosts start to look something like this:
The bugs, the heat and the humidity prove to be too much. It gets to be a bit much for me too. Saturday morning I opened the door to go outside and walked straight into a brick wall of humidity. Sometimes you forget what summer in Florida can be like until you get a weekend like this one to remind you. I realized I needed to get the summer garden started. In the front yard I'll take out the snapdragons and petunias. In their place will go lime green coleus, silvery-purple Persian shield, pink pentas and pink vinca. These aren't by any means the only summer plants I could have chosen, but they all have one redeeming quality. In my garden at least, they are all free.
The vinca are starting to reseed themselves in the garden bed, and the pentas cuttings do best with a slightly different method. But coleus and Persian shield I am propagating by cuttings. The method is pretty basic and any seasoned gardener knows it well, but I'm always surprised by how few take advantage of DIYplants.
First step is to find a momma plant. In my case, momma is actually a collection of cuttings I took hastily right before our first freeze in November. I typically pinch off a stem about 3 to 4 inches long. I strip the leaves off, leaving a small pair at the top, and at least one leaf node below. Then stick in some water and wait for roots:
When the roots come, you could plant straight into the ground and the coleus would probably be just fine. The Persian shield on the right is a bit more finicky, so I put both plants in small containers of dirt:
For some reason, I kind love the little yogurt cups. I poked holes in the bottoms with a nail heated by a candle. They fit great on my window sill, but they will only hold the plants for a couple of weeks. At that time I put the cups outside to acclimate for about 24 hours and then it is planting time:
Above is a little coleus baby tucked behind a still peaking snapdragon. When I tear out the snapdragons in a few weeks, the coleus will be ready and raring to go. The nice thing about this method is that the volume increases exponentially. This little plant will soon be big enough to take clippings from it, and the whole process starts again.
Hope this post didn't bore you too much. I enjoy watching other people's methods, and it seems like every gardener has their own variation on the method above. What is yours?