Friday, February 10, 2006

How to Clone

Last summer I had a big bushy pot of geraniums out by my front door. I brought it inside last fall to winter over. My daughter's puppy Bogie, had a different idea. When I wasn't looking, he pulled some out and chewed the others off close to the base. There was almost nothing left. I moved the plant into a cool, bright room in the cellar hoping some of the chewed off stems would have enough left to regrow. After about 4 or 5 weeks the plant showed some regrowth. Below is a picture of it today, pathetic, but alive.
Because it's small and lopsided it will need more plants to fill in the bare spots. I wanted the same kind of geraniums that I had because a friend had grown them from seed and they are not available in local nurseries so I figured the answer was to clone it. Plants have been cloned in one way or another for thousands of years. If you take a cutting from a plant and grow it into a new plant (vegetative propagation), you are cloning the original plant because the new plant has the same genetic makeup as the donor plant. Many plants like strawberries clone themselves when they send out runners to form new plants. Geraniums are not to difficult to clone. First take some cuttings and remove any leaves near the bottom of the cutting. Then put a little rooting hormone on the bottom of the cutting and plant the cutting in some moist growing medium. Rooting hormone is found at most nurseries, but if you don't have any, most of your geranium cuttings may still root. If you don't have growing medium, just put the cuttings in a jar of water until you do. Some of the cuttings may wilt. Some will revive and do OK and some may not. After a few weeks they will start to form roots and soon you'll have a new plant.
I got 7 cuttings from the lopsided plant. Hopefully enough will live so that I can fill in the lopsided pot. If they all live I'll have a few extras for the garden. The clear container around the others has some water in it. This is to provide a little extra humidity to the cuttings.

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