Let it grow: Collect seeds, root plants for tomorrow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Right now is a great time to collect seeds and root some of your plants to share with your friends or to simply have more for next season.

Let’s start with crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia). Crape myrtles are fun to grow from seeds because you can get so many variations of new plants from the originals.

I collect the seeds this time of year and place them in a brown paper bag and let them dry for a couple of weeks. Once the seeds are completely dry, place them in a small plastic bag and refrigerate them until December. Though cold stratification (as refrigerating is known as in the nursery industry) is not necessary for crape myrtles, I have better results getting them to germinate if they’re chilled for a couple of months before being sown.

The crape myrtle roots easily any time of the year. For best results, try to take your cuttings from semi-hardwood stock. Always remove any blooms and seeds. I like to take a three-inch cutting and injure the basal end by scraping off a little bark. Remove at least two leaves from the basal end and leave at least two leaves on the top. Use a rooting hormone powder to dip the cutting, and then place the cutting into moist soil.

Now let’s take some butterfly bush seeds. Butterfly bush (Buddleia) seeds need not be stratified before planting. Sow the seeds on the top the soil of your rooting tray or pot. Do not cover the seeds. They germinate better with some light. For cuttings, follow the same instructions as with the crape myrtles.

I have never tried growing roses from seeds and I don’t think I will anytime soon. Roses (Rosa) can easily be rooted any time of the year. I will take my cuttings and injure them like we did with the crape myrtle cuttings, dip them in rooting hormone powder. Never use the liquid hormone on roses because the alcohol in the solution inhibits root production. Your rose cuttings may defoliate before they root in. Don’t worry.

With all of the seeding and rooting of these plants, bottom heat helps them grow faster.

Rooting is easy. Just remember: At least two leaf nodes down and at least two leaves up.

For more gardening tips listen to Home Grown Tomatoes every Saturday from 6-8 on 101.1 FM