Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Grow a plant from a leaf: Jade Clones

Angela's celebrating a birthday today- first with a couple of online classes to teach, then who knows? Along with some chic pieces for a full outfit, she only asked for some Osmacote feed for her tiny trees. Believe it or not, she only has a few dollars put into her entire jade collection. There are two very cool ways Jade plants can propagate: plant a cutting, or simply put a leaf onto some soil where it can root. (In fact, when left in the dark with a small container of water, the leaves will spring 'air roots' to try to reach the water they sense- in about four weeks! ! Angela points out, the grower wasn't sure the water mattered, though; are Jade plant roots hydro-trophic?))

So, let's take you from the first leaves she tried in spring, to Her Majesty and Your Highness, who reside together in the tin tea box.

So, leaves…
She flips open her plant diary, complete with diagrams of pots with earlier configurations of leaves, over the summer. She flips through the July entries to find the first time she had one take root.

“There were some that kept going missing- in my Artemesia bonsai- I’m thinking the lizards who play on our front porch took those. Then there were some others I threw in random pots, in May- no attention to them, of any kind, and I didn’t spritz them, so they burned.”
“But, onto, like July 19th:
I filled up some plastic pots with the soil mixture. I put three in one pot, then eight in the biggest pot.
C: What was that soil mixture like?

A: “My succulent soil mixture- it’s universal. One-part sand, one-part good-drainage soil, and one part, Perlite.”
“So, some of those leaves died, and some of those, rooted. But the first time I saw roots, I believe, was after vacation- around August twenty-second or so. I think one of them is the leaf we’re calling Her Majesty. They had to have been growing already, for me to see them.”

C: Your Highness is a cutting; I believe I cured the tip, I guess you’d say, with cinnamon and honey. It took very well, until a mishap with fertilizer. That’s when we learned you must wet the soil before you apply any properly-mixed plant food. Even in its correct dilution, the food can burn up the roots, unless the intake point is moist. That plant’s had a rougher time, in the three or four weeks since.

Angela hopes to bring over a thriving leaf, so its roots might graft with those of the cutting. The leaves can, themselves, support the growth of a new plant! With a patient eye and, best, a magnifying glass, you can see its embryonic form, sprouting from the same node as the root!

Seeing the first leaves came in September, she says,
“On the eleventh, I put the leaf into a new pot, but I hadn’t noted the red tips. The red tips foretell new leaves- I didn’t know that, yet.”
“There we go: on the seventeenth! ‘The one in the fairy pot has leaves unfolding.’
So, basically, two months. “It took about a month to notice roots, and another month, to notice leaves.”
Here on October second, we’ve uncovered a leaf that did not want to turn loose, readily. She respectfully dug around the soil with her chopstick, keeping the roots intact. I offered a plastic cap to cradle it. Look at this fragile wonder.

Angela carefully dug out the adjacent area for her grafting. She prepared a space for the long root, which was virtually a root ball. It was more than four centimeters, "pretty decent- it had gone onto the side of the pot, then gone down," she says.
She spritzed the soil again, afterwards, "just to settle it into its new home." This one will definitely stay inside for now, as the heat's still blistering enough to raise watermelons, here in North Georgia. We keep it by the window, where it receives ambient light, and a little booster UV from the phlorescent bulb.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rookie Gardening : Grow together or wither apart

Since, in the business of those days, I missed labeling everything I planted in June, some of my Student Reward Seeds cups, over the next two weeks, became 'mystery plants.' What's growing here? What survived? I had a list of seeds my students had chosen - they looked at the packets I'd put on screen that day and tell me which one they liked. I became uncertain, however, which seedlings were which type!
I kept it all living, and most of them made it into other pots.
I'd had two plant I thought were Cantaloupe, and a couple of flowers, all growing in this one pot. I transplanted the cantaloupes onto little mounds- the higher one gives the best foliage yield. Anyway, this is about the three plants that remained.
There was one tiny sprout in there, and two big survivors. I realized, in July, I had one flower, for sure. What I didn't realize is how a common weed in my yard looks in its early form. I would get a chance to appreciate the stubborn roots, when given the same potting conditions and care as, say, a 4 o'clock.
When I did realize I had a piece of grass, I began to think of transplanting the 4 o'clock, to represent the student flowers in a long tray I'd bought for that purpose.

Transplant trauma happens during many attempts. I wasn't worried about the grass, but I did take it to the spot where I'd once been growing a single watermelon plant. That was my first pH-tested choice for the patch, by the way, before I took the advice to keep the remaining plants together in their tub, and found a spot even slightly better, with the most hours of direct sun.
I buried the prodigious roots, to see how hearty this grass might be.
The flower, however, of such a fast-growing breed, did not fair so well as its siblings. The ones I'd taken from a root ball, together, and placed in the sunrise-facing garden, shot up, over three feet high! So many flower stems, too, from the stalks- and the other two 4 O'Clocks were also thriving. One had required a stone to buffet its early trunk, when first transplanted; now that was a bit tree-like, sturdy still beside its stone companion.
So, those flowers were all transplanted first from a cup, then to a pot, before going into the ground. This time, however, the work of taking loose the grass root, to free the flower, may have just been too much, from the looks of things.

The lesson on my reflection, of this naive sort of quiet cruelty, is, in the pot, I still had the grass and the flower. Maybe only one was desirable, but taking them apart did neither of them any favors. They grew together. Plants value their lives together. To keep the flower, sometimes you leave the weed.

It reminds me of kinfolk. Ha!

Next: The resourcefully-recycled Jade Brigade. You can start several plants for one price, as you'll see!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Gardening: the Hobby Begins!

In April, we started a few plants, and gave the lawn a cut with the new mower.They say nothing beats going outdoors. You really want to feel better, consistently, then allergies be danged! The heat hadn't arrived yet, so who knew how many things we'd later realize made good April seedlings?
We figured out where were the holes. We filled in many, especially on the path to the swimming pool.