Over the years I’ve propagated hundreds of new coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides
cvs.) plants. Considering the vast number I use in my garden each year, I have to. Many of the varieties I want cannot be grown reliably from seed, and I just can’t justify buying, say, 15 of the same plant at $5 a pop. So instead, I buy one and plunder it for tip cuttings, which I use to grow more plants. Within two weeks of returning home from a garden center with just the right coleus, I can root a whole colony of its offspring. Then I take tip cuttings from that brood, and soon I have a whole passel of plants.
And it doesn’t stop with coleus. Propagating by tip cuttings works just as well with other tender perennials—those not typically hardy in cold temperatures—like flowering maples (Abutilon
spp. and cvs.), geraniums (Pelargonium
spp. and cvs.), sages (Salvia
spp. and cvs.), and many more plants. As with hardy perennials, I’m dividing to multiply, but all I need is bits and pieces of the plant’s stem and leaves rather than entire sections containing buds and roots. So if I spy a hard-to-find, must-have specimen in a friend’s garden, I can ask for a tip cutting or two to try at home. This technique also makes it easier to overwinter some of my favorite plants indoors, so they’re ready for the following season. Growing my own enriches my garden while saving me money, and for minimum effort, I get maximum impact. If there’s anything difficult about rooting plants from tip cuttings, it’s deciding which one to start with.