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Cuttings From the Garden

26 Aug

This time of year is one of my favorites in the flower garden.  The nights are starting too cool and the blooms are presenting their luscious hues of vibrant pinks and oranges with a backdrop of foliage showing many shades of green.  Now is the time when you reap the rewards from all of the hard work of planning, planting, and weeding.  It’s hard to think that the weather will soon be changing and the cooler days of autumn will be upon us.  Now is the time to decide which cuttings to take from the garden for indoor growing through the winter.  One of the easiest plants to do this with is Coleus.  You don’t want to dig up the plant due to a soil organism that doesn’t allow Coleus to successfully grow indoors.  I started these from seed last Thanksgiving, and I think that I will take some cuttings this year.   With its colorful foliage, ease of rooting and low light requirements, it makes an ideal garden plant to grow indoors.  With its sturdy, strong square stem (a clue that it is a member of the mint family) it can easily be handled.   You can root Coleus in a small clear vase in water if you choose, and by following these easy steps you can ensure successful propagation.


  1. Choose a time to take cuttings when the plant is under less stress, such as the morning.  Select only healthy vigorous plants to take cuttings from.


  1. Prepare containers filling them with a good quality potting mix for houseplants.  Any size less than 2 inches in diameter works well.  Water thoroughly. Or if you choose, use a small vase and root first in water.


  1. Cut the stems about 3 inches long from the top.  You should make the cut just above where a set of leaves are present.  That way the parent plant will still continue to grow fuller and more attractively.


  1. Remove all lower leaves only to leave 2-3 left on the tip.  If any flower is present, remove.


  1. Create a hole in the potting mix (a pencil works well for this) and place the cutting into the hole.  Move some of the potting mix around the stem so it stands up.  Water and place in a bright but shaded spot out of direct sunlight. 


  1. Continue to water only when the potting mix starts to dry out.  Do not allow to become completely dry or to over water and become soggy. 


  1. Once roots have formed either in the vase or in the potting mix, transplant into a small decorative container.  Keep in a morning sunny window and enjoy throughout the winter months ahead.  You can then plant it back out in the garden next spring after danger of frost.  Enjoy!

Orchid Confession

26 Feb



I confess.  I may be a lover of plants, and have a lot of experience growing them, but I don’t know much about growing orchids.  I do grow some, but I think it is mostly by chance and luck that they grow well.  After attending the Greater Lansing Orchid Society’s (GLOS) Orchid Show yesterday at Michigan State University, I confirmed with growers that once you find the right spot that makes your orchid happy, you will have no problem growing them.  But where is that?  According to the American Orchid Society (AOS), each type of orchid has a preferred location in your home and with proper care; GLOS tells me you could even have orchids thriving in your windowsill. 


Temperature ~ Orchids will tolerate averages of 75 during the day and 55-65 at night.  Don’t allow them to sit in a cool draft or in the direct path of a heater vent.

Phalaenopsis "Mini Mark"

Humidity ~ On average, home humidity may be about 20-30%.  Orchids prefer 50% humidity or above.  AOS suggests you group plants together or place on a gravel-filled humidity tray to raise it.  GLOS recommends 70-80% humidity.

Watering ~ Ah, the trick is….getting to know your orchid and what makes it happy.  I know some people that have the Phalaenopsis orchids that are watered with “three ice cubes per week”.  Interesting marketing, but cold!  Not all orchids will respond well to this, but, it seems to work for some.  I gather my orchids and put them in the sink, water thoroughly, allowing the excess to drain out, then put them back where they belong.  That works best for me since I only have a couple.  The key is to get the media wet, but not keep the orchid drenched.  A true balancing act.

Fertilizer ~ Fertilize with an orchid fertilizer, low doses and even lower in the winter.  Consistent fertilizing will provide the plant the necessary nutrients to flower and live happily ever after.  Easy right?

With over 30,000 species in this flowering plant family, the plant systematics is a little overwhelming.  So many types of orchids! I noticed this year at the show I took more pictures of the Paphiopedilum group, AKA, Paph or Lady Slipper Orchids. I must have been more attracted to them so, I bought Paphiopedilum “Oriental Limelight”.  I think it will do well in my bathroom which has a south facing window.  We’ll see.  For more information about growing orchids, visit the website of the American Orchid Society or the Greater Lansing Orchid Society at

Paphiopedilum "Oriental Limelight" Flower with an attitude!

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