"Striking is a simple process in which a small amount of the parent plant is removed. This removed piece, called the cutting, is then encouraged to grow as an independent plant." (source)
Penny, our Recreation Therapist at the hospital, has weekly gardening groups for patients who wish to participate. During the warm months, they work in raised beds outdoors and during the winter they prepare plants in the solarium for spring planting. (I wrote about the outdoor gardens last year in this post.)
This spindly geranium was brought indoors in the fall and has developed weak, long branches while reaching for the light over the winter months. Many leaves have died and fallen and there are no new flowers developing. It looks as if it should be added to the compost pile. But there is a chance for it to be reborn into several new, vigourous plants.
Penny and the patients have taken cuttings from last season's geraniums and planted them in soil under growing lights. The cuttings have rooted and are producing new leaves and blooms. It will be about three months until it is safe to place them outdoors and they will continue to grow over the summer before the cutting process is repeated.
Many other plants such as this Christmas cactus can be propagated in this manner. I am rooting some philodendron stems in water from a plant I started ten years ago. When it gets overgrown, the newly rooted cuttings replace the older plant. The original plant had some sentimental value and I am reminded of it each time I re-pot the new shoots.
One of our young volunteers is helping a patient iron a silk scarf she has painted. Many of our elderly patients come to us "weak and spindly" from illness coupled with a lack of social interaction. We all need to invest in the lives of other people on a regular basis. By taking a piece of ourselves and "planting" it in another person, we can propagate our experience, wisdom, caring and love. And the pruning will make us stronger and more likely to produce new growth in our own lives.