One Easy Way to Save $$ and Increase Gardening Success

Last year I took a gardening class that taught me how to save a good chunk of money when it comes to planting. We learned to create cuttings from existing plants. For instance, instead of buying new geraniums each spring, I now know how to take cuttings from existing plants (I thank my generous neighbors for allowing me to snip from their geraniums). The idea is to dip plant cuttings in rooting hormone before planting.

In a just three weeks or less I now have for free, geranium plants that would have cost me around $20 (I’m figuring 10 plants at $1.99 each).

And for those of us that like to grow our own herbs, you can see how this approach applies as well—basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, dill, mint, and so on—cuttings from existing plants can all be propagated with rooting hormone. (And this works for propagating houseplant cuttings, too.)

And why bother with rooting hormone? It acts as a catalyst for the new roots—it gives them a jump-start. And it protects the cuttings from fungus and disease that is very often introduced during the cutting process. Bottom line: It increases survival rate of cuttings. Greater success, from around 30% to almost 75%, is the difference.

OK, so increasing gardening success and saving money by not having to buy so many new plants is good news. But that’s just part of the good news. The other part is that you can save even more money (and protect the integrity of food crops) by making, instead of buying, your own rooting hormone.

While you can buy rooting hormone for around $5 (for 2 ounces), going the natural route seems wise if you’re not crazy about adding questionable chemicals to the plants that will show up in your meals. So besides saving a little money, there’s the assurance that comes from knowing exactly what you’re putting on the plants. While not a big deal for house- or landscaping plants, it can be a big deal for food. And since it’s easy to do—what the heck, why not?.

This information came to me from my friend, Nola, via a wonderful website called “Preparedness Mama.” The author shares research about 5 ways to make your own natural rooting hormone. AND, here’s the cool part—three of these you can make from things you have in your kitchen cupboard or pantry! And the other two are also cheap.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has over 30 trace elements that are beneficial to plant growth. Go lightly though—vinegar is also an effective weed killer. Simply mix 3 teaspoons of this vinegar into 1 gallon of water and dip cuttings in it before planting in rooting medium.

Use cinnamon. Cinnamon kills fungus and bacteria and helps to keep cuttings free of disease while rooting. Cinnamon will minimize damping off in your seed flats as well.

Use Honey. It is also naturally anti-bacterial and benefits new cuttings. To make a honey rooting hormone, boil 2 cups of water and add 1 tablespoon honey. Let the mixture cool and place it in a covered container (such as a canning jar). If you store honey rooting hormone away from light it will last about 2 weeks. To use: dip cuttings in the solution then pot up as usual. Or you can just set cuttings in a glassful of this mixture and watch the roots grow, and then plant your cuttings.

And here are two more easy, rooting hormone suggestions:

Use Aspirin. Just crush one or two tablets into powder and dissolve in water. Who knew this handy medicine that you probably have around the house could be used for more than heart health or headaches?

Spit on them! Saliva is a natural root enhancer and so easy to come by—no pre-preparation needed for this approach.


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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