Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a group of shrubs and vines, both evergreen and deciduous. The fragrant flowers in a broad range of whites, pinks, corals, yellows and even purples provide nectar in their tubular flowers, which are prized by hummingbirds. It's no wonder that there is always room in the landscape for a few more honeysuckle, and the gardener can propagate them easily. Two methods of rooting the starts are used. If one does not result in a rooting, try the other.
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Things you need
- Sharp garden shears
- Rooting hormone
- Builder's sand
- Peat moss
- Propagation tray
Prepare a propagating bed for the honeysuckle starts. An ideal medium is 1/2 sand mixed with 1/2 peat. Level this planting soil in a tray at least 4 inches deep, water thoroughly, and pack it down firmly. It need only be as big as needed for the number of starts desired at a spacing of 4 inches apart. Make holes in the soil with the eraser end of a lead pencil, nearly to the bottom of the tray.
Snip 4 inches of the tender growing tips of the honeysuckle. These cuttings must be taken during an active growing cycle of the plant; early or midsummer is the most successful. Base cut just below a node or joint. Roots form more readily near these nodes.
Clip off the lower leaves of the cutting to reduce evaporation of water through the leaves. Some leaf surface must remain to carry on photosynthesis while the cutting is forming roots. Gently peel off a thin edge of the outer layer on one side of the stem with the blade of the shears, about 2 inches up from the base down to the bottom of the stem.
Dip the lower inch of the cutting in powdered rooting hormone. Place the cutting into the pencil-size holes in the planting medium so the base rests on soil in the bottom of the hole. Gently surround the cutting with the planting medium, removing air pockets and pressing lightly.
Water the propagation box with a light sprayer or mister from above to keep the starts humid and the soil moist until roots have formed. Keep the starts out of direct hot sun and constantly moist. After three weeks, gently pull on each start to see if there is resistance, indicating root formation. Once roots have developed the honeysuckle can take up water from the soil and can be given more direct light, but not hot sun. Once roots are developed, transplant to individual pots and continue nursing carefully until leaf growth is prolific, at which time they should be moved to their permanent landscape site.
Tips and warnings
- To root the cutting in water as an alternative, follow all the above steps except after cutting the 4-inch start, do not put it directly into the propagating box. Instead, after removing lower leaves and an edge of the stem, place it into a jar of water. Its lower stem should be in at least a 1-inch depth. Place in indirect light and watch for two to three weeks for roots to form. Once they do, proceed with the steps of planting to the propagation tray, including dipping all the roots in the rooting hormone.
- The branches of a willow, cut into small pieces, act as a natural rooting hormone. If using the method of putting the honeysuckle cutting in a jar of water, add some chunks of willow branches and it will aid the rooting process.
- Change the water in the rooting jar every few days to keep it fresh. This prevents rot of the stems in the jar.
- A large, clear plastic bag can be wrapped around the entire propagation tray to keep it humid, but it must be ventilated daily and checked for mould or mildew growth. If mildew is found, it is too humid, so remove the bag.
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