Many people will either increase the amount of herbs in their herb garden by either dividing existing herbs, buying new seedlings, or starting their herbs from seeds that they have either collected or purchased. Not all herbs are easily divided, however. Rosemary and lavender can be rather difficult, for instance. Buying new seedlings can be rather costly if you are looking for a lot of different herbs. Finally, starting herbs from seeds can be a rather tricky undertaking. Many herbs just take too long to germinate; and some herbs, like rosemary, might germinate and then again might not. There are also other herbs, such as sage, that do not always grow true from seed. Another method of propagation that you can use that is really not that difficult is by taking soft stem cuttings and rooting them.
Step 1: Select a healthy plant from which you wish to take your cutting.
Step 2: Cut a section from a stem tip 5-6 inches long. You should make the cut on a slant right below a leaf node.
Step 3: Strip away the leaves from the bottom of the cutting. Also remove any flowers and/or seeds.
Step 4: Dip the end of the cutting in a rooting hormone.
Step 5: Stick the end of the cutting in a moist potting soil.
Step 6: Place a clear plastic over the cutting making a dome. (The plastic helps to reduce evaporation and creates a mini greenhouse.)
Step 7: Set the cutting(s) in a warm, bright area.
Step 8: Check the cuttings every 2 weeks. (Most cuttings will take root within 2-3 weeks, but times can vary for different herbs.) Spritz well with water using a spray bottle if the soil begins to dry out.
Step 9: Transplant your cuttings into a larger pot (about 3 inches) once the roots have developed (about one-inch long).
Step 10: When the roots begin to poke out of the bottom of the 3-inch pot, you can safely transplant your herb(s) into the garden.
•Herbs that respond well to this method of propagation include: lavender, rosemary, scented geranium, and sage.
•If you are unsure whether your cutting is developing a root system, just give it a slight tug. If it resists, then roots are forming. Do this about 2 weeks after placing in the potting mix. (Also you might notice new growth forming. Another sure sign that your cuttings are taking root.)
•Most soft tip cuttings can be taken in the early spring; however, check the information for particular herbs. For example, soft tip cuttings can be taken from sage in the late spring or early summer. (I must be honest, however, I take cuttings whenever the spirit moves me.)
Written by Dena Bolton
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