Grow Your Own Plants !

In my earlier days in Wisconsin, it seemed every gardener I knew grew something in his garden from seeds or rooted his own plant cuttings. For them, it was a natural task, even if he had no training. Here in Miami, we can make thousands of species grow so easily that I wonder why people don't propagate more of their own plants. Of course, the simple reason may be that people don't WANT more plants, and they are tired of pruning back plants that grow too fast already.We have such a great diversity of plants available to us that we should use our climate to try new plants. In many cases, newer species are less maintenance than some of the older ones. Conversely, some of the "older" types are bug and disease resistant, and should be distributed more.

Diversity is key to keeping the home landscape interesting. Propagating plants is easier than many people think, and you can end up with a wide variety of plants for free. Sometimes the simple act of stabbing a branch of certain plant species into the ground works just fine. Plumerias, Gumbo-Limbos,and many succulents grow very well from unprepared cuttings. Some people do this successfully with Crotons, although it has not worked for me very well just yet. My own preference is to use tip cuttings, dipped into rooting powder I buy at garden stores or big-box stores.

Tip cuttings of many soft-tissue plants ( about 8 inches long, with most of the leaves removed) root fine when placed into clean pots of sterile potting mix, such as African Violet soil. Water the soil until water comes out the bottom of the pot, place the whole pot and cutting into a bread bag,and loosely tie the top shut. Place the bag in a shady spot, and wait until roots form. The same mini-greenhouse arrangement works for growing seeds, too, without the rooting powder. This is a great tactic for growing palm, aroid, and flowering tree seeds.

If you have interesting or rare plants, make a few extras and give them to neighbors and friends. In the event you lose a plant, you can reclaim it from your "plant bank" friends. Share the landscape wealth we have in our gardens and make the community a more interesting place at the same time. We have the best subtropical plant-growing spot in the country; let's make the most of it !

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens