Cabin Fever

I know I've got a bad case of cabin fever when I start propagating everything around the house except the cats.

The winter starts off for me with normal propagation methods - rosemary cuttings in soil, a couple favorite begonia cuttings in a glass of water. By mid-November, though, I can't resist the urge to try something a little different. Like the hydroponic tulips in the refrigerator for example (see November 14th posting).

But after the turn of the year, winter's grip is on me like a steel trap. Something odd happens and I become a thing possessed with a kind of propagation madness. Just the other day I resurrected a method discovered mid-winter in 2006. An easy do-it-yourself humidity chamber for salvia cuttings. All you need is a short glass vase and two plastic containers (click on photos for larger view).

Snip off a couple top branches of a salvia that's getting leggy (3-4" long stem tip cuttings). I used the Pineapple Sage I'm wintering over under lights. Pinch off the lower leaves and put the cuttings in the vase with water. Fill the bottom plastic container of the chamber with about an inch or so of water and place the vase inside it. With a spray bottle, mist the leaves and the inside of the top plastic container and close the chamber. Within a week you can have a rooted cutting ready to pot up.

It wasn't more than a day later, though, that I was struck with another fit of propagation madness. The airplants had been dispersing fluffy seedheads for a couple weeks now and I hadn't taken much notice of them floating around the house until a friend mentioned them. I pulled my American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation book off the shelf and sure enough I found this simple statement: Raising bromeliads from seeds is rewarding for the gardener...

That's all the encouragement I needed. I studied the suggested method (conifer twigs, such as cypress or juniper, tied into a bundle with raffia and a little sphagnum moss; seedheads pressed evenly into the moss, misted and hung in a warm location with 100% humidity) and got busy improvising.

I pulled out a salvaged Southern Magnolia seed pod, a piece of palm fiber and some raffia. I tied the palm fiber around the seed pod with raffia, misted it with the spray bottle, pressed the fluffy seedheads into the fiber and wrapped a couple more pieces of raffia around it to hold the seedheads in place. I misted the entire thing and hung it in a sealed baggie in a warm spot.

My family's obviously used to this kind of thing. No one has even asked after the odd-looking contraption. Not a rolling of the eyes, puzzled glance. Nothing.

Next it's the baggie seed germination method on some Echinacea and triple yellow Datura seeds. Let's hope spring comes soon or I'll be stuffing the smallest Siamese into a damp coffee filter inside a gallon-size baggie.


  1. I'm sure she's shocked and dismayed about that idea! I love your propagation creativity. I never propagate anything beyond dividing, but I ought to start.

  2. i just love your kitty, i had a chocolate point for years , now have my lilac point 13 or 14 yrs now.