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Plant Propagation| Leslie Halleck| Central Texas Gardener

December 3, 2019

– Are you ready to be a plant parent? Well, you will be in about 10 minutes, because
our guest, Leslie Halleck, is the author of “Plant Parenting”. And welcome back to Central Texas Gardeners,
great to have you. – Thank you so much, I’m so excited to be
here again. – Plant propagation, a lot of people really,
as they advance into gardening, they really get into this notion and this idea. They wanna pass along plants to their friends,
et cetera. But people should understand the many different
ways that plants propagate themselves first. – We decided to call the book “Plant Parenting”
because I felt like this is an activity, you know, that people really wanna get into, and
I wanted to make the book really accessible to total beginners and anybody who hasn’t
propagated before. And that’s really what you’re doing, you’re
making plant babies. But in order to make plant babies successfully,
you have to understand a little botany 101, how plants multiply. And it’s so interesting. Someone actually said to me that they felt
like the act of propagating plants on their own felt a little artificial to them, and
I had to remind them that plants are way smarter than us and they’ve figured out how to do
all of this without us, whether it’s seed– – A million years ago. – I know, seeds. And so, I had to assure the new plant parent
that, no, no, no, the way that you germinate these seeds and the way you take these cuttings,
they’re already ways that these plants multiply themselves. – [Tom] Sure. – And every plant does it differently depending
on where they evolved and where they’re endemic to. You have to learn how the plant you wanna
multiply is able to do that, and some plants, you can take leaf cuttings, and some plants
you can’t. Some plants you can get seeds for, some plants
you just can’t get them because they’re too hard to harvest. So, a lot of people experience failure with
first time propagating, because they just didn’t realize that the plant they wanna make
more of doesn’t propagate that way, it doesn’t multiply that way. So, we do start out with some basic 101 on
how plants multiply themselves so that you can take advantage of those tactics yourself. – And it’s very clear in the book, and I think
you mentioned seeds, I wanna start there, ’cause when I think about plant propagation
my earliest memory of plants is putting a little plant in a window sill, with my mom,
and cut off milk cartons, you know, the whole thing. I know this book is more advanced than cut
off milk cartons, but let’s talk about techniques for seeds. – Again, you have to go back to understanding
the plant that you wanna grow from seed, because every plant has different needs. Most tropical seeds, annuals, don’t necessarily
require a lot of preparation. They need consistent moisture and they’re
gonna need bright light after they germinate, and a lot of times not enough light is where
a lot of people fail with their seedlings. Window sills are not great for most young
seedlings, for your tomato transplants, for example. Other seeds, like wildflowers and grasses
and shrubs and trees may require special preparation, pre-soaking, stratification, scarification,
and if you don’t know that going in, that seed will rot before it roots. – [Tom] Exactly. – So, that’s always the trick with propagation,
it’s a race to root before you rot. Right? – I like that. – That’s what I always say. – Right. – For the seeds, you wanna create the conditions
that are most conducive to that seed germinating as quickly as possible, and putting down roots
and a shoot so that it’s successful before the elements come in to take it down. – And the elements can be an over-attentive
parent with too much water. – Absolutely. And over-watering is sort of the classic common
issue, whether you’re maintaining house plants or you’re taking care of seeds, and you literally
suffocate your seedlings and plants with too much water. You drown the roots. So, yeah, too much water can cause all sorts
of issues with seeds, fungal diseases, you name it. So, learning how to manage that is pretty
important. – The book is filled with lots of examples
of how to deal with seeds, and the proper care, and finding that balance, which is so
important. Between just enough water and too much, et
cetera. But you cover the bases in a way that really
makes is accessible for people. – Yes. – So, congrats for that piece of it. – Thank you. Well, it’s for everybody, so they can be successful. – Exactly, right. – Right. – Now, speaking of water, another technique
is, and everybody knows this, there are a lot of plants you can simply snip the end
of a growing tip off, put it in water, and voila. – Yeah, for a lot of new plant keepers, apartment
dwellers, dorm dwellers, you name it, houseplants are really, you know, have become a bit of
an obsession. – [Tom] Yes. – And once you have them, you want to make
more. And many of those tropical houseplants propagate
vegetatively, and you don’t need soil, you don’t need containers, other than a water
vessel. So, we call that water rooting, and you can
water root many types of tropical plants before you have to put them into a pot with soil. It’s really cool. – It’s very cool, and they can survive a long
time in the water– – [Leslie] Sure. – There’s a downside to leaving them in for
too long. – Right. There are certain plant like pothos, I mean,
you can grow– – [Tom] The classic one. – You can grow a pothos rooted in water and
leave it there forever, but it’s good to understand that there’s a physiological difference between
roots that develop underwater and roots that develop in soil. So, if you’re water rooting, you have to know
kinda that prime time, if you wanna pot it up, when to do that. If you leave it too long sometimes those plants
can have transplant shock when you go to soil after water, or going too early before those
new roots have really branched out, right? So that they can take up oxygen from the soil,
you need to wait ’til that happens to go into potting soil. – Right, right. And knowing timing is everything. – [Leslie] Yes. – And the book is super helpful on that note
for people knowing when to step things up or to transplant them. I’d like to spend a moment just talking about
air layering. – [Leslie] Yeah. – The first thing I saw in the book when I
was just flipping through it was these images of kind of, some new techniques, or new tools
for air layering, and I thought, that is cool. – Yeah, air layering is in the vegetative
propagation section of the book, and it’s probably the most advanced form of propagation
I cover in the book, but I’m into DIY recycling, you know? But I also love cool tools, and air layering
can be a little tricky for first timers, but there’s some great little pods that you can
use that snap right on to the stem of the plant that help you see the roots as they’re
developing on that air layered cutting, which are really cool. – So, just for folks out there who don’t know
what air layering is, you can kinda peel back a little bit of bark, moisten some sphagnum
moss, or some other kind of medium. – Yeah, coir, I like to use coir, yeah. – And then the way that I’ve ever done it,
was I would wrap that in plastic, tape it up, and then roots would develop in the sphagnum
moss and you could then cut it and plant it. – And then you snip it off and pot it up. – [Tom] Right. – Right, so it’s a great way to create a cutting
on a plant before you ever have to remove it from the main plant. But the little balls help you see the roots
as they come through, so that’s kind of a new cool tool. – And the book is filled with, again, helpful
little tips about the tools to use, in fact, let’s spend some time What do folks need to
get started if they’re really interested in this? – Well, if you’re doing water rooting, all
you need is a vessel that holds water. Literally, that’s all you need. – [Tom] Right. – And even if you’re starting seeds, you can
often reuse a lot of containers you have in the house, and I show you a lot of those in
the book. For seeds you need a good, quality seed starting
mix, and you need light, okay, for seedlings. For vegetative cuttings, it comes down to,
again, having containers and a good quality medium, which I cover in the book. But if you wanna get serious, there are also
lots of really more advanced tools like automated propagators, if you are wanting to take cuttings
that are a little trickier, that take a little more babysitting time there’s some really
interesting propagators that you can use to help you with that. So, it depends on what you’re growing as to
how advanced the tools that you need are, but I cover all the basic tools that you need
to go from basic to a little bit more advanced. – What about things like root starters, or
things like rooting hormones? – Yes. Yeah, I cover rooting hormones, and I get
a lot of questions about rooting hormone. What is it? Essentially, plants have a hormone inside
them that stimulates root growth and we people have figured out how to copy those hormones. And so, when you take a little vegetative
cutting and you dip it in that rooting hormone, it helps that cutting make roots faster. So it, what? It roots before it rots. – [Tom] Yeah, right. – Essentially, right. – [Tom] Yeah, got it. – So, it speeds up the rooting process and
helps that cutting develop roots faster than it normally would. You don’t always need it, but if you’re taking
slightly woodier cuttings, or say, citrus cuttings. – I think woody is the answer, really. – Yeah, citrus, roses, slightly woody cuttings,
I find that it actually helps people, especially less experiences propagators, be successful
with those types of cuttings. – [Tom] You can find that in most nurseries. – Yes, and there are organic options as well,
and then some other natural things that you can use to sort of, keep a cleaner propagating
environment, like honey and willow tea extract. So, they’re not really rooting hormones, but
they also help keep the decay kind of at bay. – Right. We have just a brief amount of time, but I
want you to just talk about bulb division and root division. – Yeah. – Just real briefly. – I include division at the end, because it’s
not just for houseplants and seeds, you can propagate from the plants in your garden,
and learning how to divide bulbs and perennials is just as important. – Pass along plants. – Yeah. – That’s one of the real joys of plant propagation,
it’s giving plants away, and that’s one of the more common varieties, or ways of doing
that. – Right. So, I’ve got some cool tips for that in the
book, too. – Okay. Well again, this has been terrific. Another fantastic book. Thank you so much– – Thanks so much for having me. – [Tom] For sharing all your wisdom on this
stuff. – Oh, thank you. I hope people have a lot of fun with “Plant
Parenting”. – I know they will. Coming up next, it’s Daphne.

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