YES, I KNOW IT’S ONLY AUGUST, but I’m preparing my petunias, wax begonias and impatiens for winter bloom in the house. By starting new plants from stem cuttings now, I’ll have a bevy of fresh, young beauties — and scent from the petunias — ready to bloom in the window garden just as the first snow falls.
There’s no trick to propagating petunias, wax begonias and impatiens. As illustrated below, simply cut off a two- or three-inch length of fresh green growth from the parent plant, and remove all but the top three or four leaves. Remove also any flowers or flower-buds that are present. Finally, insert the lower inch of stem into a crocked pot of light, porous potting-soil. Be sure to pack the soil firmly around the stem.
Water the soil mixture well. Then set the pots in a light, but not sunny window (or outdoors in shade), for a rooting-period of 2-3 weeks. During this time keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Too much moisture will lead to stem decay. When new growth is evident, move the young plants to a sunny south or east exposure, and begin feeding with a high-phosphorous formula.
Winter color is not the only benefit that propagation affords. In early spring I usually strike more cuttings, to produce yet another new crop of plants. These, when all danger of frost has past, are planted in window boxes, hanging baskets, and in the open garden. Now, that’s a lot of beauty — for free.
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