Winter is a rough time for families who enjoy gardening and greenery, but propagating plants is a fun activity that can be done at any time of the year and it really seems like magic. Most plants are grown from seed, as we all know.
However, there are a select number of plants which can be propagating rather than planted by seed. Plants can be propagated from many different parts of the plant but the most common, and the easiest way is a cutting of the tip of the stem. First, let's go over which plants would be good to use for this project and then we will go over how to do it.
Many woody branched plants propagate well such as perennial herbs like rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, and hyssop for example. Other woody branched plants that work well are fruit or berry bushes and trees, which include as much as you can really imagine ranging from raspberries, blueberries, elderberries, apples, lemons, peaches and pears. Other fun plants to propagate are the more squishy ones such as succulents, aloe, and other houseplants that are vines work well too --- such as ivy, pothos, and more!
Now, I personally think plant propagation is really a form of magic when you really think about it. Imagine if you did the same thing to a human, basically you cut off an arm or a leg and put it water, and then your whole body grows back again from that one appendage? Crazy, I tell you! That's where the real fun is to be had with the kids, when you show them that perspective you can just see their minds being absolutely blown away.
So, since I kind of already spilled the beans on the process part let's segway into that part of the project now and dive deeper into the details of the process. There's a few different ways to go about propagating from a cutting, you can take the cutting and put it in a growing medium such as soil, you can put it in a growing medium enhanced with a rooting hormone, you can put it in a container of water, or you can put it in a container of water enhanced with a rooting hormone.
When you make the cutting you want to cut off about 6-8" of the from the end of the tip towards the base and use very clean or sterilized with alcohol clippers. A dirty tool or knife could transfer a disease to the plant automatically nullifying the chances of survival for your cutting. Next, you pull off the leaves on the bottom two inches or so. You don't want any of the leaves sitting in the water becoming stagnant or in the soil and rotting. I personally enjoy rooting in water as opposed to soil because I like to watch the roots grow. Rooting hormone powder can be bought at Home Depot or Lowe's, it can help with plants that go into soil, you simply dip it in the powder then push the bottom of the stem into soil.
As for water enhancement, I once heard that willow bark cutting placed in the water will release a natural rooting hormone to help any plant cutting grow roots. There is room for lots of experimentation with plant propagation fun for kids! Remember, not every cutting will take. There may be a few who do not grow and the kids can create educated guesses as to why, but I make that announcement ahead of time so that you might take into consideration doing a few different cuttings to make sure to increase your probability of a good rooting. What's the best part of plant propagation magic, you ask? Free plants!