(The metal table in the corner used to be black. This summer I painted it pink!).
I repot those that need repotting. I take cuttings of annuals like geraniums (pelargoniums) and fuchsia and impatiens instead of bringing in the whole plants (more on that in a minute).
|a watercolor painting I did of one of my fuchsia plants grown from a cutting, available in my shop|
And I make decisions about which plants to bring in and which plants not to. Maybe that sounds bad, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to have plants in my home that are simply limping along. If they're diseased or damaged or otherwise failing, I let them go.
At a time when everything else is winding down and ending, this process is a fresh start, a beginning, and it feels good.
This autumn I was especially excited to get my small begonia collection arranged on my newly painted book and plant shelf in the living room. The peach color makes me happy every day (as does that pink table up above).
The plants, of course, make me happy, too.
There's something special about begonias. Their leaves are so pretty and dramatic.
And the flowers are fascinating, even when they're not showy, because they're distinctly male and female (the top one is male and the bottom is female).
But one of the things I most love about my begonias is that all but one of my six plants were grown from cuttings.
Yes, even the plant with the four foot wide spread started out as a cutting, a cutting from a plant my mom was growing that itself had been a cutting from my plant.
I have a couple plants like that. It saved me when some squirrels destroyed plants I had been growing outdoors during the summer.
I prefer to root my cuttings in water. This goes against everything you'll read in books, but for me it works (and I was surprised to see that the American Begonia Society recommends it as well the other more complicated techniques).
The best thing about rooting cuttings in water is that it's easy. A few weeks ago I took some cuttings of the dragonwing begonia I was growing outside during the summer.
Despite the fact that I left on the flowers and probably too many leaves (some have started to turn yellow and will need to be removed), the cuttings are already growing roots.
I have found that with the cane-type begonias (including the angel and dragonwing types) cutting one of the fresher (not woody) stems with a few leaves works best. Rooting a few of the same type and potting them up together will give you a bushier-looking result. Also, if your plant is looking a little leggy, taking some cuttings and then repotting the parent plant in a new, larger pot with those cuttings will help refresh the plant and give it a fuller look.
With the rhizomatous type begonias I take a single leaf with a long enough stem and place the stem in water to root.
Again, rooting a few leaves and planting them together in a pot will give you fuller end result, but even one leaf will eventually give you a nice full plant, too. All you need is patience.
This plant came from a single leaf.
And so did this one.
Once your cutting(s) have a fair number of roots, simply place the leaf (ves) (or canes) in a pot with potting soil and care for it as you would for an established plant. Don't let the soil get bone dry or waterlogged. Eventually the plant will begin to grow, sending up new stems, leaves and shoots.
I use this method of propagation for geraniums, fuchsias and impatiens, too.
Which means that little nooks and window ledges are packed with cuttings right now.
They don't take up much space.
And they add a bit of color.
Those geranium cuttings in my studio window were taken from plants I grew in the garden this summer that had been grown as cuttings last winter.
|a watercolor I painted of a geranium grown from one of the cuttings I took, available in my shop|
Want to learn more?
- Read how Margaret Roach grows her begonias here
- Find more begonia info on the American Begonia Society's site
- If you're looking for lovely plant photos and entertaining & instructional reading, check out any of Tovah Martin's books. (She has a new one I haven't read yet called The Indestructible Houseplant -- that might be perfect for you if you think you have a "black thumb" -- a term I don't happen to believe in).
- Although the ads can be annoying, Martha Stewart has a lot of great houseplant info and plenty of beautiful photos on her site
So, what about you? Do you grow or propagate plants indoors? What's your favorite?
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