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What's Growin' On Stony Brook?

I am not a fan of the Fall. To be honest, it is my least liked of all the seasons. When I hear people getting excited about the cool temperatures, scarfs, and hot apple cider, I just get moody! I get anxious watching the dropping temperatures on the weather reports. The cool nights rob my flowers of life, turning their once bright blooms into brown stalks. The brisk winds strip the trees of their leaves, leaving skeletons where full canopies once swayed in the summer sun. Even the deer, who had abundant food for the past weeks, are now encroaching on our little nursery and chewing up our tiny black walnuts trees as they forage for remaining greens. But this year, I found a way to steal a little more time from Mother Nature. I started a propagation program that begins with a “Mother Plant,” and ends with the production of hundreds of new plants for campus, and stretches my grow time by another couple of weeks. I will be using asexual propagation, a method in which a new plant is formed from a “Mother Plant.” A Mother plant is grown for the specific purpose of taking cuttings to produce offspring. The best performing plant of each desired species is separated and given special attention. As she begins to thrive and push out new healthy growth, her new limbs will be sliced, dipped into a rooting hormone, and placed in a sterile moist planting media. This form of propagation produces a genetically identical plant from which it came. Not only will this activity satisfy my fall seasonal depression, the greenhouse program will also benefit! If all goes well, in a few short weeks we will have viable plant material. I am hoping that out of the 13,000 annuals I’m growing this year, roughly 1,000 will come from plants we already have on campus, decreasing the amount of seedlings we have to bring in.

Geraniums, Lantana, Coleus, OH MY!!!

And they are just the beginning! As of last week, I have about 120 Geraniums, 60 Lantana, and 60 Purple Queen cuttings. I have set up my Coleus for today, another 60 cuttings, and hope to get the same out of my two varieties of Ipomoea. This program will also be of benefit by offering a more established plant come Spring, as they began life almost 4 months prior to my first shipment of annuals.

If you would like to extend your Summer joys a little later into the season, I suggest trying the same. When you clear your garden beds of all its’ beautiful summer blooms, don’t hesitate to grab a couple of clippings. Even simpler than the asexual method of propagation; take a clip, toss it in a cup of water, and walk away. In a few weeks you should see roots forming from either the cut axils or the base of the cut. Watching these little limbs form into true plants is very rewarding, especially as the rest of the world is shutting down for winter.

Happy Gardening!

Tips for Propagating

  • Choose a healthy Mother Plant that is insect and disease free
  • Get a tip cutting that is a few inches long
  • Remove lower sets of leaves at the axil leaving only 3-4 leaves, remove flower buds
  • Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and place in rooting medium; sand, vermiculite, peat moss, water
  • Keep soil at 65-75 degrees (the top of your refrigerator is a great consistent heat source!)
  • Keep moist and out of the direct sun, keep your fingers crossed, and have fun!

Article Written by: Andrea Petterson, Landscape Manager

Tags: Grow Red

Created by Application Support for Administration
Campus Operations and Maintenance @ Stony Brook University