OK, for those of you local gardeners looking to increase your stock of garden plants without breaking the bank, here are a few pointers on optimizing your success taking cuttings.
You may have heard of rooting stem cuttings in willow water, definitely an option locally with ample willows growing along our coastal rivers like the Ameca. But we have several other sources of natural rooting hormones that can aid your success.
One is the humble water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes. This aquatic plant is flourishing in many of the river tributaries near the ocean. It is nature’s last resort at filtering river water before is meets its oceanic destination. The water hyacinths are so successful, the deltas are often downright congested with them. They reproduce very rapidly and in the process release copious amounts of rooting hormone into the ambient water. If you create a vessel with water and throw some water hyacinth into it (and a gold fish for mosquito control), soon you will have a rooting hormone soup that other plants happily start developing roots in.
I have also head coconut water as recommended for the same purpose, although I can’t say my success with this method has been stellar. If you wish to place stem cuttings directly in trays of (non-saline) gritty sand to get the roots started, some gardeners recommend dipping the cut end into honey first (to protect against fungal decay through the wound) or dipping it in cinnamon powder for the same purpose. Powdered cinnamon, like what you would buy in the baking section of a grocery store, is an excellent anti-fungal agent. I remember volunteering with the Orchard Society of the Botanical Gardens of my hometown, with its glasshouse fragrant with cinnamon. The caretakers would liberally shake cinnamon all over the orchids to prevent fungal infestations in the high humidity environment. Being young at the time, I remember trying to convince my mother that we should buy powdered cinnamon donuts to boost our immune systems. I’m not sure she was convinced but we had some quality time at Timmy Hortons as a result.
The season’s ambient humidity and naturally slower pace of living is a perfect excuse to proliferate your garden for the coming months. Remember to promote air circulation to counterbalance the humidity in whatever environment you are taking cuttings in and consider trying some of the tips above. Right now, here in the Bay, its greenhouse livin’, so make the most of it!