At nittonarton we are self-described “plant nerds” and do our fair share of online shopping for those rare, hard to find plants. Cuttings are a great way to get that lush oasis at home without breaking the bank, but there are some pitfalls to consider. Before you go filling your online shopping cart, follow these tips to ensure your plants meet—better yet, exceed—expectations when they show up at your doorstep.
How to make sure you buy a strong cutting
Places like eBay and Facebook are great resources for plant nerds. You can easily spend both time and money to find that plant you’ve craved for months. To ensure a great plant, start with checking out the seller. What does other customers think? Are they satisfied? How do the seller pack and ship the cutting? The roots must be wrapped in moist paper and plastic and the fragile cutting should be packed in bubble wrap or newspaper, followed by a box of some kind for extra protection. Preferable they will ship in the beginning of the week so that the cutting don’t get stuck at the mail office over the weekend. Also, make sure that the cutting has good roots, it is often temping to buy the first and cheapest one you find (been there, done that…), but that is not a good idea. Cuttings are stressed enough by being shipped, so make sure they are strong and healthy, and the chances that they will thrive at your care are even bigger.
arrival day – happy day
We just bought a beautiful Philodendron “Brasil”, so let’s use that as an example. When the awaited cutting arrives in your mail, there are some small steps to take before potting it. First, carefully unwrap it and check out its status. Does it look healthy? No bugs? Any serious damages during shipping? If so, don’t hesitate to contact the seller. Plant people are often eager to please it’s customers, because bad reputation travels fast… As you can see, our philodendron arrived in great shape, just some minor tears in one leaf due to shipping (and that’s ok and very common).
Preparation before planting
First of all you should put the cutting in water and let it rest for a couple of hours before doing anything else with the plant. If there is any soil on the roots, carefully rinse that off under water. Don’t forget the leafs, you do not want to have any “extra guests” at your home. And don’t forget to take a moment to admire your new beauty!
Pot and soil
How to mix soil is always up to debate. But the basics are, depending on the plant, use either cacti soil (for succulents, cactuses or cuttings with weaker roots), ordinary potting soil or spagnum moss (for cuttings that love a moist environment) and you can add some perlite* for good drainage. Also, you should take the opportunity to mix in some extra nutrients. Use a pot with drainage holes in the bottom, save those fancy pots for later. In this case we went for a mix of potting soil, worm humus* (worm poop!), which is a very nutritious organic fertiliser and excellent all-round soil improver. For extra strong root development, we added mycorrhizal fungi* and beneficial bacterias to the soil mix as well. Pour the soil mix into the pot and shake it, make a large enough hole for the roots in the middle and then carefully place the cuttings in that and give the pot a good shake. Add some extra soil at the top if needed and press the soil gently around the plant. As a general rule, soil should not cover more of the stem than it has before. If the cutting has been water propagated, make sure that you don’t bury any leafs, this could make the plant rot.
Watering is an art, but it is quite straight-forward
It’s time for that first, good soak. When it comes to watering your new plant, it is important that you don’t use water direct from the tap. The simplest way to do that is to have a pot of water standing for at least a couple of hours so that the chlorine disappears, or use rain water. We always have a big bucket of aerated water (we use an aquarium air pump) ready for our thirsty plants. If you want to play it extra safe, add a drop of neutraliser*. Give the plant a good soak, making sure that water comes out from the bottom of the pot. And you are done, time to watch your new baby grow!
*Perlite, worm humus, mycorrhizal fungi and water neutraliser are available at your local nursery or custom online plant shops.
When the time has come to pick out a nice pot for your new plant baby, check out our video below for some serious pot and planter inspiration!