Saving annuals for garden

Choose certain annuals.

This propagation technique is not a good choice for ALL annuals. Focus on your smaller, bushy annuals that can grow in partial to full shade. We are looking for plants that can be kept through the winter as smallish potted or water-rooted plant, which will yield some stems in late winter for further cutting and rooting. References I checked cite Coleus (Solenostemon), Wax (fibrous-rooted) Begonias, Impatiens and Pelargoniums (zonal geraniums) as cooperating well with this method. In addition, Hypoestes (Polka dot Plant), Ageratum (Floss Flower), and some Plectranthus may be used as annuals and work well this way. After all, the term “annual” is a subjective designation based on a plant’s lifestyle and sensitivity to cold. Feel free to experiment with your bedding or container plants, keeping the plant’s light requirement and growth habit in mind. These named plants have a reputation for rooting readily, without any added rooting hormone. Giant sunflowers are not an appropriate choice for this method!

Take soft stem cuttings in late summer

Mid to late summer is the right time for stem cuttings. Plants should still be growing well, with plenty of stems. September’s continued warmth and sunlight encourage the cuttings to root. For propagation next spring I’d suggest you plan to make one plant now for every three to five plants you want to produce later. Please note they are called “cuttings” because a clean cut reduces the chance of damaged, rotting stems in your pot or vase

Trim up for pottin

A good cutting will have at least one node below soil for new roots, and one or more above the soil for leaf growth. A cutting should not have many nodes in the dirt (that would neccessitate a windowsill-hogging larger pot, more prone to overwatering.) Well prepared cuttings also shouldn’t bear too much greenery either. Lush, bushy cuttings may struggle as the plant tries to support the leaf metabolism on litttle or no root input. Any flowers or flower buds should be removed. But wait; for every rule there is an exception. If you are taking cuttings for water-rooting, you’ll need enough stem to hold the cutting upright and ensure that the end of the stem stays submerged. Be sure to remove any leaf material that may end up below the water line. It will only rot and endanger the health of the whole specimen.

Lay out your cuttings and trim accordingly. Discard excess stem below the bottom, “rooting”, node. Also consider removing or trimming some of the leaf area. Leaf trimming requires a judgement call on your part. Now pot up your prepared cuttings in small pots of good quality soil. As always, keep the pot proportional to the plant. Enclosing the potted cuttings in loose plastic will help maintain humidity. I used a clear plastic bag supported by disposable chopsticks from our favorite steakhouse. (Cuttings placed in water won’t need a humidity cover.)