BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

The recycled pot technique


I learned this super-simple propagatio­n technique from the holder of the Plant Heritage peperomia National Collection, Sally Williams. It’s so simple and works for almost all peperomias as well as begonias, creating a minigreenh­ouse that’s ideal for rooting.

◼ Raid the recycling box for a clear plastic deli pot with a secure lid – the kind hummus comes in – then wash it well with hot, soapy water, and dry.

◼ Add water to the container so it just covers the bottom – it should only be a few millimetre­s deep.

◼ Snip off a cutting from the parent plant using clean snips: both leaf and stalk or stem cuttings will work, depending on the size of the leaf. Place the cutting into the pot and replace the lid firmly. For small leaves, you can add several to the same pot.

◼ Mark the plant name and date of propagatio­n on the lid of the pot, using a permanent marker pen.

◼ Position the pot somewhere light but away from direct sun, and open the lid regularly to let in fresh air and check there is still a layer of water in the base.

◼ Pot up the cuttings into damp, gritty potting compost once roots have formed and are a few centimetre­s long. Cover them with a clear plastic bag initially to aid further rooting. The pots can be used again and again, provided you clean them between propagatio­ns. tease the roots so you can gradually separate smaller clumps, each with their own roots and greenery. For plants that grow from rhizomes such as the snake plant and the aspidistra, you may need a sharp knife to cut these undergroun­d storage organs into pieces, making sure each one has its own growing point. Pot up your new plants and they should soon be thriving.

Take to the air

Once you have mastered these easier propagatio­n techniques, it’s worth giving air layering a go. This method allows you to root woody-stemmed house plants such as dragon trees (dracaena), and the rubber plant (Ficus elastica) in situ. If your plants have started to look leggy rather than compact, you can prompt a stem to produce roots, then cut it off and pot it up separately, or replant it into the same pot to give a bushier appearance. Select a woody stem that’s around 1cm in diameter or more, and measure 30cm in from the growth point. Take a sharp knife and remove a section of the outer bark layer at a length two to three times the diameter of the stem. Then dust the area with some rooting powder and wrap the area with a ball of damp sustainabl­e sphagnum moss or coir, held in place with a clear plastic bag or cling film and secured with string or cable ties. Roots should start to form within a matter of weeks: once they are 5cm or more in length you can sever the stem from the parent plant using secateurs and pot it up. The cut stem will re-sprout.

Succulent plants such as crassulas, echeverias and kalanchoes can all be propagated from individual leaves

 ?? ?? Crassula leaves twist off very easily, making leaf cuttings even simpler to do
Crassula leaves twist off very easily, making leaf cuttings even simpler to do
 ?? ??

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