Propagation for the Incompetent

We've all followed Ms. Country Mouse's posts on propagation with great interest, and I, who has actually seen the fruits of her labor at her house -- rows upon rows of healthy, self-propagated plants, am more than a little bit in awe. It really pays that she attends propagation classes, and it helps me that she writes so eloquently about them.

Today, though I'll show you some propagation just about anyone can do: Propagating Heuchera (Coral bells) from offshoots. Heuchera is a California native, you can find it while hiking in the forest around here, and I've planted several species in my garden including Heuchera maxima, Heuchera 'Canyon Snow,' and Heuchera 'Wendy', plus several of the weirder colored nursery species such as Limelight. I already propagated Heuchera maxima a few years ago, and when the teacher at the Gardening for Wildlife class mentioned that she'd just multiplied her Heuchera, I decided to do the same.

1. Find plant.  Choose a plant that's been in the ground for a bit and looks like multiple plants, like the one in the photo above. 

2. Prepare pots. Prepare several pots with propagation medium (I use potting soil. At least for this project. I've found Heuchera to be fairly forgiving).

3. Cut. Using your pruners, find the extra plants, which are coming off the original plant with a long, slightly woody stem. No digging required. Here's the result; the stem might be even longer.

4. Clean. Make the stem shorter, and remove most of the leaves, both old brown leaves and old dark green leaves. The teacher encouraged us to leave very few leaves so the plant puts its energy into growing roots. I'm probably a bit too timid at this step.

5. Add plant to pot. I dip the bottom of the stem into some rooting powder, though I think that's optional, then make a hole into the soil in the pot and stick in the plant. I water when the soil starts to dry. Come spring, I hope to take the plants out of the pot and plant them in the ground in nice shady spots, near the redwood sorrel and the native ginger. Good luck babies! A happy future awaits you if you put down your roots in my garden.


Barbara said…
The title of this post told me I had to read it, and indeed your instructions are lucid and make it look easy! I didn't know heuchera was a CA native. It grows in many German gardens, and I love it because slugs don't. Now I'm inspired to try propagating it.
Christine said…
Hooray, Instant woodland! I think you and I are on the same page propagation-wise. Although rooting powder sounds pretty advanced...
I hope the cutting take! We have some native Heuchera here, but I only tend to see it in relatively dense shade. Once I get the rest of my fall planting done, which seems to never end, I do want to try taking cuttings of a few plants here. Maybe I'll try a Heuchera or two!
Gail said…
I could do this! Thanks for the instructions! Btw, we have native heuchera in TNThey grow on our limestone ledges. very beautiful to see them. gail
Dear Town Mouse, I actually printed out your post 'cos I'm going to try this. Thanks so much. Pam x
graceonline said…
Nicely done! Timely as well, as I've been wondering whether we could separate some in my daughter's garden.
rebecca sweet said…
Okay, I am going to have to try your method since I have a 50:50 success rate with my heucheras. I guess I should do a little more than just pinch them off & plunk them in the ground, right? ;)