Part of my overwintering strategy each year is to take cuttings of tender plants, root them indoors, and grow them under lights for the winter. By springtime I'll have several new plants of each variety to put into the garden.

Some plants root so easily in water -- those are my favorites not only because they're almost foolproof, but because you can watch the roots forming.


Sometimes (like with this Mexican petunia cutting) the roots form at the cut end of the stem:

I just noticed that there's a little critter in that photo!

What is that, an aphid? I'll have to take a closer look when I'm done writing this post.

This cutting created a separate root (and a thick one at that) at the first node above the cut end too:

All of these roots grow quickly, and the water level drops pretty quickly, so roots can find themselves above the waterline:

Earlier I said that rooting cuttings in water is almost foolproof -- I said "almost" because there are a few mistakes that can be made, like leaving the cuttings in the water for too long. Once the roots start going you should pot them up or the roots may start dying and rotting, and that is not what you want.

The other problem is keeping the water fresh. Sometimes it gets a little bit cloudy, which is fine. Other times it may become a little more "soupy" than you really want:

Too much algae in that one, so it's time to either change the water or pot those up -- I think the roots are big enough.

Not all of my cuttings go into water though. Some I know from past experience will root fine in damp soil. Others I'm experimenting with to see if they readily root this way:

If they start showing signs of growth after a week or so (or better yet, roots poking out of the drainage holes) I'll know I was successful, and can get rid of the larger parent plant and focus on some smaller cuttings -- I don't have unlimited space.

Some cuttings will stay in water the whole winter (as mentioned in a previous post):

Some need almost no water at all, and I've taken completely on faith that they will root and start growing with almost no effort on my part:

Not only do these cuttings allow me to overwinter reasonably-sized plants, they give me something "green" to care for through the cold winter days. I'm not sure what I'd do without my indoor winter garden.


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM)  

What is the plant in the first photo? A tradescantia? And the third one from the bottom? Have you had cuttings that completely failed, i.e. rotted or simply never rooted?

My experience with cuttings is limited to succulents, and most of them root very readily.

Stupid Garden Plants  – (December 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM)  

Those tradescantias (wondering jews) are absolutely fail proof. I had a piece break off my mother plant above, and fall in a cacti pot below, rooted with no help at all. Everytime my trad gets too leggy I cut it back, put fresh growth tips in the pot, and off it goes. Cuttings are a great strategy to overwinter species, it takes far less room then bringing the main pot in. Only a couple more months of winter left...

Alan  – (December 11, 2011 at 9:48 PM)  

Yep, tradescantia. I've left cuttings out on a counter for weeks and they still root. I wish all plants were so simple. Some cuttings will rot, but my failure rate is pretty low now -- probably because I mainly root the easiest ones only.

The third from the bottom is the creeping wire vine you sent me. Not sure if it will root readily, but we'll see. I can probably cut the main plant down to a smaller size, but wanted to see how easy it was to root.

Steve Lau  – (December 12, 2011 at 12:13 AM)  

Have you ever tried blueberry cuttings? They seem to root pretty easily in the spring before they sprout, but I've never tried them indoors before. Might give it a run.

Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (December 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM)  

I didn't knowI could take cuttings of the Mexican Petunia - going to give it a try. I love them and would like another one (or two or three).

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