Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Potato Vine Cuttings

Every year it seems like my hubby and I spend a ton of money on buying beautiful annuals...only to have them die once winter sets in. My goal for this next year is to bring all of my annuals (except for some of the veggies, of course) inside during the cold season. We'll see if it happens.

One of my most favorite annuals is the potato vine. I love the bright green and the deep purple of these two types in particular. Last year I decided to take cuttings from the plants that I had, just to see how they would do. I began, in early fall, by cutting several vines (with at least 5 leaves on each stem), then pulling off the bottom 2-3 leaves. I immersed the bottom of the stems in water (covering the area where I took off the leaves) in a couple of vases, leaving them to their own devices for several months. Actually, they were sitting in the middle of my kitchen table all winter, as a great teaching tool for the kids on how roots develop and what they look like. The picture above was taken in November.

After about 4 or 5 months, I noticed that the roots were getting kind of cramped in the vases and the leaves started developing some weird crystals on them.....yeah, really weird....I started thinking it might be best to get them into some soil sooner than later.

I gently removed them from the vases and laid them out on some newspaper (please ignore the ads, apparently it was doggy week somewhere).

I like terra cotta pots...not just the way they look, but the way that they feel, the way that they smell (when they are wet, you can smell the earthiness of their content), and the fact that they have such an Italian name.....beatitudine!

Inevitably, I have at least 2 or 3 terra cotta pots break every year, usually due to children knocking them over or the extreme temps causing them to crack. So I smash them up and use these shards in the bottom of my future pots. The shards keep the soil from draining out of the hole in the bottom of the pot and also keep the plants' roots from sitting in water and drowning (plants don't like waterlogged feet anymore than you or I do).

Once I got to this point, I separated the cuttings from each other and laid them out next to their future home.

I then put a thin layer of potting soil over the shards.

And began placing the roots into the pot, one at a time.

Until they were all composed in an arrangement to my liking...then I covered them with more potting soil and reached for my Dr. Earth fertilizer...

Only to find this hibernating wolf spider, who was quite surprised at my unannounced visit to his winter home. I apologized for the intrusion and escorted him to my garden.

I added some Dr. Earth fertilizer (which I love because it is all natural, even though it smells like turkey manure).

Finally, I added water to the soil....slowly....until it was thoroughly the process, washing off the spider egg sacs and dust that had accumulated all over the outside of my wonderful terra cotta pot during the winter. I let it drain completely.

And...Vuala! I know that they look kind of spindly now, but give these cuttings a few months, and they will be looking mighty purty!!
~.~ the purple sprout

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