Saturday, November 05, 2005

Propagating Mints

A student in the landscaping class that I teach brought me aPennyroyal cutting this week and a cutting of Spearmint. As most gardeners do, he expected a trade, so I was happy to give him cuttings of my Mountain Mint and Lemon Thyme.

A cutting is a little slip of a plant about 6-10" long that can be placed in a medium until it grows roots. That "medium" might be water, soil, vermiculite, sand, or peat. Propagation is a fancy word for rooting cuttings of plants.To root mints (including pennyroyal and the thymes), your job is veryeasy. Just use your fingers to pinch off a piece of the plant, about6" long. Place the cutting, cut side down, into some soil or anothermedium mentioned above (my favorite is vermiculite, as it holds itsmoisture and is lightweight). You don't need to worry about addingrooting hormone to these cuttings -- they are a natural at rootingall by themselves. Keep the cutting moist, but do be sure that extrawater is able to drain away.

After a couple of weeks, if you are antsy, you may check on your cutting by gently lifting up on the stem. If it is tight, you probably have roots ready. If it pulls up, wait longer.If you have the self-control needed, as I do not, leave the cutting alone for 3-8 weeks (depending on how warm the soil has been) so that you don't damage the little roots by checking on them. When the cuttinghas a nice supply of roots (several at more than 1-1/2" long), youmay put it into a prepared pot with potting soil or into the garden.
Trading cuttings not only saves you money, but also allows you toexperience the gift of sharing!

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