Herbs and Vegetables – Propagation

Articles
June 16, 2009

Herbs and Vegetables – Propagation

There are lots of gardeners who like nothing better than to get out in all weathers, digging trenches and carting heaps of home made compost around, turning up their collars at the chill wind and generally having a wonderful, if back-breaking, time.
Then there’s the rest of us!
Putting some salad seeds in pots for the summer and waiting till the days are warm and sunny (as they are now) before venturing out to garden. One of the things we fair weather gardeners tend to like is propagation – sowing seeds and seeing them sprout, taking cuttings and (sometimes) having them grow – and enjoying the amazing ability of many plants to grow new roots if stuck in a jar of water for a few weeks.
What many people don’t know, however, is how many things will root in water.
Of the herbs generally grown, almost all will grow new roots from a clean healthy stem put in a glass for a few weeks.
Basil will suddenly throw out amazing roots, so will sage, thyme & parsley.
The cresses, American Land cress and English watercress, do well in water, but you must change their water very often as neither herb grows well in anything but very clean water.
Less surprisingly, a pinch of chive seeds, put in half an inch of water will quickly sprout and you can top the water up for a few weeks before planting them out.
The top of a tomato stem will not only grow a superb set of roots, but if you pot it up, the tomatoes will grow from the whole stem instead of starting twelve or more inches up.
I have, just for interest, kept tomato and basil stems rooting in water over the winter, but it really isn’t worth the space when you can grow them so easily in the spring.
Here in southern England we had an unusually cold winter, and I lost many of my well-loved shrubs and plants. However, any healthy looking stems were rescued and put in glasses on the kitchen windowsills – and even I am amazed at how many of them have grown new roots.
One or two things to remember is to always use clean glass or china – no detergent residue, for instance.
If your cuttings are sitting in water that has gone dull and cloudy, it can be a good idea to give them fresh – they need the oxygen in clean water. Don’t take cuttings with flowers on – the plant’s energy will go into the flowers and they won’t survive to grow roots.
The best reason for using glass that the growing roots are visible and if there are children around they are often fascinated by the growing roots, and for many, it’s the first understanding of the wonderful world of vegetables, fruit & flowers.
As always,
Happy horticulture,
Diana