Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Flowers: Cuttings

"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.


  1. What a beautiful analogy Ruth. It makes such a difference when people feel they are relevant and can contribute. Body, Soul, AND Spirit? :c)

  2. Great tie-in at the end.

  3. Ruth, what a beautiful post! I found myself being envious of the gardening and silk painting (oh how I would love to learn to do that! It looks beautiful). I think our lives are all richer when we invest in others...particularly when it's done without an aim of personal gain.

  4. Anonymous9:14 am GMT-5

    What a great post!. It reminds of a song "Teach Your Children" Its a story about the parents and children understanding each other lives and then you are to teach and feed them their dreams so they can live. It's a lovely little song. What a great center you work at. Such little things like planting flowers can rejuvenate ones spirits.

  5. Investing in others ... I need to do more of that. I keep thinking of the scripture, the older women are to teach the younger women ... there are so many simple things that can be taught and passed on.

  6. Anonymous1:08 pm GMT-5

    I can see why nature would help seniors as it has helped me....

  7. Anonymous4:49 pm GMT-5

    That is great that they do that for patients!!! Please, would you ask for me if the "lipstickplant" can be propagated?
    I have two Christmas cacti and I didn't know you could just stick them in soil -thanks for this post!

  8. I liked that analogy too! Did not know you could propagate a christmas cactus either. My mother used to take cuttings from her african violets and root them on the windowsill in little glass jars. Then she'd plant them up and give them away as gifts.

  9. That was a nice post Ruth. I started reading a new book about knitting today that uses similar analogies.

  10. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. And yes, the lipstick plant can be propagated with stem cuttings.
    If you Google "propagating lipstick plant" you will find a number of sites giving details of the method.

  11. We have a tree down here in Florida you can do the same: called the Gumbo Limbo. It's very sensitive to cold, therefore you only find it in south Florida and the Caribbean.

  12. Came to your site Via my world.

    When I was in Siingapore, where people were mainly urbanites, they didn't garden. I told them that gardening is good theraphy. You have documented that.

    The Geramiun here in Auckland are perenial, I don't need to replant.

    I used to live in Windsor, and I really appreciated Spring after the cold winter, esp February where the snow was slushy and muddy.

  13. I have a spindly geranium trying to find sunlight on my indoor porch. I always cut it way back at summer's start...didn't know you could make cuttings from it. It belonged to my Mom--I'd love to propagate it! Might do the same with her Christmas cactus too.

  14. Ruth,

    Working in the soil is good for the soul. I'm glad that your facility has a place where patients can continue to enjoy activities.

    Hope you have a great weekend. Stay warm.

  15. Your giftedness is shining through on this post, Ruth!
    I'm truly touched by the hopeless-looking geranium being turned into so much more beauty!


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