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Starting Petunias from Cuttings in the Greenhouse

Thursday, April 14, 2022

I have recently grown to LOVE petunias. I always seemed to skip over them in the garden centers because they seemed a bit old-fashioned to me. Last year in a mad dash to a local garden center to add some color to a photography shoot, I picked up a flat of mixed-colored petunias and headed out. 

Petunias in the Greenhouse

Petunias Greenhouse Grown

Petunias Greenhouse Grown

Petunias Greenhouse Grown

One thing I never knew until that drive home.....

they have such a sweet fragrance! 


Okay, they were already growing on me. (pun intended!) 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown


Since I've had my greenhouse, I have started new petunias by both seed and cuttings—the seed for colors I wanted to add to my collection. And, the cuttings from my VERY favorite color I had on hand - to clone more plants to look exactly like that. 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown

Petunias Greenhouse Grown

Petunias Greenhouse Grown


I can't say I prefer one method over the other because I do them for very specific reasons. Yet, the ones from cuttings have so many advantages over growing from seed. Petunias are slow growers when started from seed. I have an ideal environment in my greenhouse, so I wanted to use that method to get more variety. But, the new cuttings had rooted and were blooming in 3-4 weeks. 


It was so fast! 


That's a win in my book if I get blooms any earlier than what is typical. 


So, let's dive into starting new petunia plants from cuttings. It is simple:

  • Cut the stem.
  • Remove the leaves and blooms.
  • Dip into a rooting hormone.
  • Place it in the soil and water. 


But let me detail it out completely.


There was one color, in particular, I was crazy about. I could have saved and collected those seeds. But, because of cross-pollination, I wouldn't have likely gotten an exact replica of that color. 


It would have pretty much been a surprise.  Not that all surprises are bad, but I wanted ALOT more of the perfect pink I had so few of. 


That's where cuttings can come into play. If I am cutting from the mother plant, my new start will be a clone of that mother plant. Thus, I will get that perfect happy color of pink I want. 


Petunias in the Greenhouse

Petunias in the Greenhouse

Petunias in the Greenhouse

Things you will need as you prepare to take your cuttings: 


1. Soil - I use seed starter as I want the roots to have an easy medium to grow into. 

2. A container of water. I like to take my cuttings and immediately place them in water until I can get to them to keep them fresh and avoid extra shock. This is especially a priority for me if my greenhouse is hot or there is a chance I can be pulled away from my gardening table. 

3. Rooting hormone. I use rooting hormone for my petunias and have been 100% successful. Some do not use rooting hormone and are successful as well. I may give that a try to test it out. I'll let you know1 

4. A dibber or pencil to make a hole in the soil. 

5. I use my 6-inch terra cotta pots for a potting container. But, anything with good drainage will work. 

6. Scissors, shears, or a knife - make sure they are clean and sharp. 

7. A healthy mother plant. I usually water mine well an hour before, but I take the cuttings. But, on occasion, I have skipped that step. 

8. Water. 


This is an easy way to fill your summer containers full of petunias. And, let me warn you now....once you start, it's hard to stop! 


So, let's get started! 


Moisten your soil well and fill your pots with the soil with about an inch of room left from the top of the soil to the top of the rim. 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown


Find a straight stem that is 3-4 inches in length. You will want at least 2 to 3 leaf nodes planted under the soil. Follow the stem down and cut below a leaf node. 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown

I place my cuttings in water at this point as I continue to work and collect more stems.  Lay your cutting flat on your gardening table and remove all leaves and blooms. You can remove all, but I tend to leave 2-3 leaves at the top but no more than that. You can either pinch them or cut them off. 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown


At this point, I dip the bottom end of the stem into the rooting hormone. You will want to pour a little out into a separate container. This will ensure you don't transfer disease or fungus into your primary container. 


Next, take a dibber, pencil, or sharpie and make a hole in the soil. Make it deep enough to accommodate the leaf nodes you want under the soil. I use a six-inch pot and plant three stems in each pot. Place the stem into the hole, pat the soil firmly around the base of the stem, and water well. 


At this point, if it's during winter, I will place it on a heat mat. Some opt to use a humidity dome; I do not. After about three weeks, I remove it from the mat. They will need filtered light (greenhouse) or grow lights to assist in the process. During warmer months, I will not be use a heating mat. 


When you water, allow the top of the soil to dry out, water to the point the water runs through. Then let the top inch of the soil dry out again and repeat. 


Petunias Greenhouse Grown
 

Tips to remember:

*It is hard not to "peek" to see how the roots are forming. (I'm guilty!) However, it is best to disrupt them as little as possible. If they are growing and producing more leaves and blooms, you can trust they are rooting well. 

*Do not put the cuttings in direct sunlight as they prefer bright but filtered. They also don't like being overly hot. I've only started them during the winter months but will start more cuttings in April and possibly throughout the summer. I will take extra care to keep them cool with fans, open windows, plenty of water, and the bottom gardening table shelf. 

*If you have warm temperatures, they may need to be watered twice daily. 

*Petunias LOVE to be fed. I start feeding mine a diluted solution of Miracle-Gro once the roots have been established. And, go full strength once I pot them up. 

*You can easily overwinter petunias in a greenhouse. But, as they grow, they need a lot of space or become tangled. I will overwinter some, but primarily only to get spring starts. But, if you have the space, they will do very well with appropriate winter care. 

*During the summer months, they can get leggy around July. This is also another great time to take cuttings for new starts as fall goes into winter. 


I hope that helps you grow loads of petunias. I've come full circle in ever overlooking their loveliness again. Of course, you can do this without a greenhouse, but a greenhouse makes it so easy. 


I hope your spring and summer (and fall and winter) are filled with the sweet fragrance of this amazing plant! 

How to Pinch Back Sweet Peas to Encourage More Blooms

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Mansfield, AR 72944, USA

 It's sweet pea season! 


Thanks to their sweet fragrance and colorful varieties, they are a gardener's favorite.  They will soon be filling garden spaces and vases alike. 

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

Do you want more blooms? If so, you should consider pinching back your plants. Although not a necessity, most gardeners will opt to pinch their sweet peas back. You will do this once they reach 4-6 inches tall. This will not only encourage the plant to be shorter and busier but will also produce more blooms. And, once they begin producing, the more blossoms you cut, the more they'll produce - a great cut and come again flower. 

Sweet Peas

You can "pinch" with your fingernails, although I like a clean-cut, so I tend you to use some small sharp pruners. You will pinch or cut the central growing tip above the leaf joint. I make sure I cut and leave only 2-3 leaf sets on the plant.
 
Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

You can "pinch" with your fingernails, although I like a clean-cut, so I tend you to use some small sharp pruners. You will pinch or cut the central growing tip above the leaf joint. I make sure I cut and leave only 2-3 leaf sets on the plant. 

With pinching, they will redirect their energy into more branches and blooms. It can be hard to pinch them back, but it's so worth it!  

Sweet Peas

How to Overwinter Geraniums

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Mansfield, AR 72944, USA

 I, like many others, have an obsession...


Geraniums. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums
This past summers-end was extra hard. I had grown every geranium plant either by seed or propagation in my greenhouse, and I wasn't ready to see them go. I had hundreds of them in a very select color scheme. The fall days were drifting in, and colder days were ahead. 


Our first freeze of the season was coming.


From the moment I planted that first seed, I had invested so much by way of time and care. I had enjoyed them immensely. So, I decided to give overwintering a try, and it EXCEEDED all expectations. 


The initial preparation was time-consuming, but it was so worth it. And the overwintering process surprised me in how much joy those blooms brought. How much color; how much life; in the dead of winter. 


I had the space.


I had a protected environment. 


I had the IDEAL environment. 


I started with one plan, but you will see how that changed course. It was a change that I never looked back on. 


There are several different methods you can use. I decided to use the container method. It made the most sense for me. I gathered my supplies: loads of 6-inch terra cotta pots (my preference), potting soil made for containers, and garden shears. 


Then, I got busy. And, to be honest, this first step of preparation is by far the most time-consuming. I picked a nice warm day and collected the geraniums from my patio, porches, and garden. Some I transported in their containers, and others I dug up. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

I gathered and inspected the geraniums and decided which ones to keep. If they looked the least bit diseased, I discarded them. Then, I spent time removing them from their containers. I gently removed the dirt from their roots and any damaged leaves, extra stems, leaves, or blooms. Next, any part of the stem that was going under the soil was thoroughly cleaned from leaves and buds. This would aid in not allowing any rot to occur. When you have well over a hundred, this takes a bit of time. 


Although I used the container method - I did different variations within that method. I planted two large urns that were to provide continual starts throughout winter. Those were my primary mother plants. 


Then, I planted a huge number of single plants that I had separated into 6-inch terra cotta pots. I wanted to test their growth in comparison to the same size pot having 2-3 plants. Remember, I removed all extra foliage and blooms (for the most part). This allowed the energy to focus on the root system.

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

I found a few "baby" geranium plants within the mother plants. For those, I started in smaller 3-inch pots and potted those into larger ones as winter progressed. It didn't take long; they grew like crazy. 


I had some 2-3 inch branches that broke. I cleaned them well by removing leaves, blooms, etc., and planted them into the soil. I did not use any rooting hormone. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums
I kept some larger pots that were on my patio. I inspected well and removed the debris, and reconditioned the soil. I made sure I didn't carry in any pests inside the greenhouse. 


I made sure all containers had about an inch of space at the top to allow for watering. I then watered them - thoroughly soaking them and allowing the water to run through. 


The watering process throughout winter was vital. First, I watered to the top of the pot rims. Then, I allowed them to dry out completely. And repeated over and over again.  


All winter long. 


The greenhouse made overwintering easy. The light provided was perfect. I checked them often and watered as needed. I removed any dead foliage. I kept the temperature above 45 degrees. I kept air circulating by way of a fan(s). My greenhouse also has an auto vent, double doors, and windows. Those were open on the days the greenhouse heated up from the sun. I made sure good ventilation was in place. Geraniums can develop mold, and that never became an issue. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

My initial plan was to keep them in a somewhat dormant state. I didn't expect big gorgeous foliage or deep green foliage. Well, these geraniums had different plans. 


They FLOURISHED. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

In a few weeks, they were growing and blooming to the point I had to take a second harvest of new cuttings for starts. This was one month later. So, I had to buy many more terra cotta pots. 


It was a great problem to have. 


On a cool morning within the first month, I walked into the greenhouse, coffee in hand, and was greeted by spring in the middle of winter. Pops of color: pink, reds, and salmon. It was then I decided to let them bloom. 


And, bloom, they did. They have given me such joy this first overwintering season. I did begin a diluted half-strength fertilizer of Miracle Grow about once every 4-6 weeks. If I had tried to keep them in a more dormant state, I wouldn't have done that. 


In overwintering, my ultimate goal was to get new starts for propagation in late winter for early spring. But, they gave me so much more. 


Was it worth it? 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums


Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Geraniums

100% yes! 


This was my personal experience that I wanted to share, and I hope you enjoy your gardening journey as much I do! 


This post was to explain my overwintering process. I'll make a post soon on starting new plants from cuttings. 


It's been a game-changer too! 



 

The Journey of a New Yoderbilt Greenhouse Owner, Part 2

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Mansfield, AR 72944, USA

 It's Delivery Day! 


The wait is hard but so worth it! Our customers often compare it to waiting for Christmas as a child, and I agree wholeheartedly.   


Once your greenhouse is built, Yoderbilt's Customer Service Department will call you for final payment and schedule your delivery. Even though I work for Yoderbilt (as disclosed in Part 1 of this series), their Customer Service is known to be superb. It is foundational for the success of this company and something they are very proud of. 


When you receive that highly anticipated phone call, your prep work should have been completed to avoid any unexpected delays; this includes foundation work, trimming back any overhanging trees, fencing, or gates that need to be temporarily removed, etc. All of which they will go over with your prior.   We did have to trim some trees on our driveway. I will be honest, I thought they were tall enough not to interfere, but after further discussion, they weren't, and we needed to complete that before delivery. 


Trust me...


You will want to be ready when you get that call to schedule. 


So, my greenhouse was finished, and I got a call from the office to schedule. I was also given an approximate time the delivery would occur, and the driver contacted me when he was on his way with a more accurate delivery time.  


As soon as I could hear the truck on my driveway, I was ecstatic. I knew my gardening game was about to change. A long-awaited dream was coming true right before my eyes.  

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

The process of watching them unload and set into place is pretty incredible.   He checked my site, and he was ready to place it. The entire process was quick and uneventful. No leveling was needed, but in some cases, they will need to use some capstones to ensure it is all level before they leave.   Your sales staff will go over all that entails and how many capstones to have on hand.  

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

Yoderbilt Greenhouse Delivery

That was it! The driver went over the greenhouse with me, and he was on his way to his next delivery. I started moving things in as he drove back down my driveway. 

Yoderbilt Greenhouse

Very impressive! The delivery drivers have this down to almost a fine art.  They are some of the most complimented employees of Yoderbilt. 

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