Did you know you could propagate plants through leaves? Here’s how..

Growing plants with the help of seeds is quite common and people are mostly familiar with this method. But what about plants which cannot produce seeds? Or plants which produce seeds but those seeds do not have the capacity to develop into plants? Did you know that some plants have the potential to develop into new plants through leaf cuttings. Before learning how to propagate through this method, let us first learn how to identify plants which can be propagated through leaves.

Identify type of buds

There are basically two types of buds on plants – axillary and adventitious.

Axillary buys are normal buds out of which branches, leaves and flowers arise. On the other hand, adventitious buds arise on unexpected sites like on trunk, roots or leaves. So if you see buds or outgrowths arising on places except on stem apices or tips and leaf axils, those are adventitious buds.

How to propagate through leaves?

Materials required:

  • Sharp and clean pair of scissors or blade
  • Propagating media
  • Container
  • Mother plant
  • Some fertilizer
  • Rooting hormone (Optional)

Propagating leaves with petiole

Petioles are slender stems which join stems with leaves. Money plants, syngonium, African violet, peperomia, episcia, hoya, sedum etc. can be propagated through leaf petioles. Take a sterilized blade or scissor and cut from just above the place of attachment from stem. Dip the petiole in a rooting hormone and remove the excess solution. Place the stalk in water or directly into potting mix for some days. After a couple of weeks roots will develop and your cutting will be soon transformed into a new plant.

Propagating leaves without petiole

There are certain plants on which develop directly through stem and lacks petiole. In such cases leaf blades are used to propagate plants. Snake plant, aloe vera, begonia, bryophyllum, kalanchoe, sedum etc. can be multiplied using this technique. Cut a healthy-looking leaf with a sharp blade and dip the cut portion in rooting hormone. You can then place the leaf in water or in potting mix. You can make multiple incisions and develop several plants from a single leaf. Make sure you insert the bottom part in soil and keep the tip towards the sky.

Propagating through leaf buds

There are a couple of plants which develop little buds on leaves or on stems which can be directly used to develop new plants. Cut the bud with a sharp blade, insert it into a rooting media and bury it in a potting mix. Eg – poinsettia, hydrangea, geranium, camellias, bryophyllum etc.

Succulents which can be propagated through leaves

Succulents are very easy to multiply through leaves. You can cut a leaf using sharp blades or scissors and place them in a tray with shallow water or potting mix. Don’t submerge the leaf in soil simply place it on top. Sprinkle light showers of water on top of the leaves regularly and after a few weeks new plant will sprout. Eg- Graptopetalum paraguayense (Ghost Plant), Sedum morganianum (Burrito), Echeveria lilacina (Ghost Echeveria), Sedum nussbaumerianum, Echeveria (Lola).

So, what are you waiting for? Gather all your tools and start multiplying your existing plants to create beautiful plants. Why to spend so much on new plants when you can propagate on your own?

Written by
Antra Thada

Is rain water healthy for your plants? Let’s find out

Monsoon is such a magical time for all of us and specially admirers of the greeneries like us. The drops of rain have some kind of magical effect on the plants. As soon as the rain drops tickle the surface of leaves, they somehow become bright and lustrous. Plants are meant to quench their thirst through rain water and through ground water or residual moisture in off monsoon months. I mean it’s like meant to be. So naturally they will be happier in receiving water in it’s original form.

There are several factors which make this water enchanting. Let us understand how –

Rain water is soft

Groundwater or tap water that we receive in our homes contain several dissolved nutrients and minerals out of which calcium and magnesium are the most prominent ones. If your area has hard water then you might have noticed some whitish deposits on your planters or utensils. These elements can slowly build up in the plant’s system and can become toxic. Rain water is soft as it does not contain these harsh salts. Potted plants are more susceptible to accumulation of these salts as there is no continuous flow of water and soil gets saturated with them.

Rain water contains more oxygen

Ever wondered why plants rot due to waterlogging of tap water where as in excess rains plants survive for a longer duration? The reason is oxygen. As the water falls from above, it dissolves more oxygen and this concentrated oxygen lets the roots breath even in water logged conditions.

Rain water brings nitrogen

Nitrogen is a very important element for development of plants. Air contains 78% nitrogen but it should  be converted into available form. Rain water dissolves nitrogen and other minerals along with it and provides it to the plants in a form which can be absorbed by them. This is why plants appear green after a good rain.

Maintains ph

Almost all plants in our garden grow well in slightly acidic pH. Groundwater or water from municipalities are alkaline in nature. This is done to prevent corrosion of pipes due to acidity. Rain water has a pH of less than 7, which makes it more suitable for our plants.

Washes off dust and pollutants

With time dust and other particles stick on the surface of leaves. This decreases the photosynthesis efficiency and makes the leaves look dull. As the rain drops fall on the surface of leaves, it cleanses them and gives a lustrous appearance to them. During the monsoon season, try and store the rain water in barrels or you can even install a water harvesting system in your homes. Rain water revives the plants and happy plants means happy you!

Written by
Antra Thada

7 things you should know to grow a flourishing pot herb garden

Growing plants and especially medicinal herbs is fulfilling and beneficial for our mind, body and above all, for our soul. In the previous post we discussed a lot about different types of medicinal herbs. In this post, we have some simple tips to start, care and maintain your little pots full of herbs. Let’s begin.

  • Soil

The first and foremost requirement to grow any plant is soil or substrate in which the herbs are going to grow. Most of the herbs require soil which is well drained and have a good water holding capacity. You can combine your local garden soil with cocopeat or perlite with some organic manures or FYM to make it perfectly suitable for the herbs. The pH of the soil should be maintained between 6 to 7.5 as highly acidic or highly basic soil can be problematic.

  • Container or Pots

Since we are growing these herbs in pots, this is the most crucial part. Pots of diameter between 8 to 12 inches work very well. Make sure that the containers have drainage holes in them in order to avoid water logging. Plastic or ceramic pots are best as metal pots can get heated in sun.

  • Location

Most of the herbs flourish well in full sun. So keep them in an area where they are exposed to light for at least 6 to 8 hours. If you feel like that the temperature outside is getting too high or too low, you can obviously shift them to a place or indoors where temperature fluctuations are less.

  • Water

Well, if you are growing plants, then you need to water them. Pot herbs need constant watering as moisture should be maintained adequately. Water them regularly everyday or every alternate day and don’t let the soil go dry.

  • Harvesting

So now it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labour, in this case leaves! Herbs regrow and regenerate for many weeks, so cut the leaves or required part with sharp and clean scissors. Wash the harvested leaves and consume them as you like!

  • Fertilization

Pot herbs do not need much fertilizer inputs. They flourish well with our old school organic manures, vermicompost or FYM. Still if you feel like the leaves are turning yellow or plant is growing slowly, you can supplement it with NPK and some micronutrient solutions. (I would highly recommend that you click here and buy our ebook “Finding Your Soil-Mate” for better and deeper understanding for how soil and manures work.)

  • Pruning

Since we are planting these herbs in pots, we don’t want them to outgrow their containers. So, it is better to prune those excess branches or leaves and utilize them by drying or consuming directly.

Start your container herb garden today as you don’t need to wait for any particular season or time of the year. Herbs can be grown with seeds or through cuttings. You can grow multiple herbs in a large container too or you can pick small containers for separately planting those herbs too. Make a list of all your requirements and grow your own fresh herbs in the comfort of your home.

Happy Herb Gardening!!!

Written by
Antra Thada

If you’re looking to learn Container/Pot Gardening check out our balcony gardening course here!

9 medicinal pot herbs for your home garden

Every once in a while, we come across certain recipes of traditional drinks or some kind of food which our nanis and dadis used to make, something that always comforted us. Not only this, they always had some fresh or dried ingredients in their kitchens which is so hard to find now a days. And whenever we feel sick we surely miss them as many of us might be living away from our homes. At such times we might not get their company and care but we can definitely get some comfort with the help of their comfort foods like soups, kadhas, tea etc.

Majority of components in these foods or drinks are found in our homes while some crucial elements are freshly harvested. So here we are going to talk about certain herbs that can be grown easily in pots or containers in minimal space.

A small guide to using grow lights in your Garden – Part 2

Part 2: The right way to use grow lights

In the previous post, we have learnt the different types of grow lights which are available. In this post, we will learn how to use them in the correct way to gain maximum benefits from them.

We have established why plants need light to grow and survive. They need light in a proper wavelength and for a specific duration. Now comes the next question –

Where to position the lights?

The first thing that comes to our mind is where to place them, at what angle, and what should be the distance etc. So here are all the answers to all your questions. You are using these lights to replicate the sun, kind of like an artificial sun. Place them directly above the plants so that the growth of the plants is upright. As plants are attracted to light and will grow in the direction of light, it is advisable to place them directly above the plants. In the case of creepers, it doesn’t matter as they will grow in the direction of support.

How much distance should be there between plants and lights?

Now, this depends on the type of lights. If you are using traditional or incandescent bulbs, better keep them at a safe distance from your plants. They emit a lot of heat and it can be harmful to the plants. If you are using LEDs or fluorescent lights, you can keep them close to the plants as they emit less heat. Fluorescent lights give out more heat signature as compared to LEDs, hence should be kept a little more away.

Traditional or incandescent bulbs – 24 to 30 inches

HIDs, LEDs or fluorescent lights – 6 to 12 inches

Which colour is best for my plants?

We all are familiar with the seven colours of the rainbow. In short, they are abbreviated as – VIBGYOR. This range of light is also known as PAR or photosynthetically active radiation which is required for photosynthesis. We need grow lights to provide PAR to plants with an appropriate wavelength for desired period of time. So, let’s see what colour of light plays what role in a plant’s life?

Violet/Blue light – This colour is important for growth, photosynthesis and cholorophyll formation. This colour is directly related to the vegetative growth of the plants so it will be required at all times and in almost all plants. Blue light is essential for germination of seeds and it stimulates growth of stronger roots too.

White light – When all the colours of a rainbow are combined it gives out white light. It is responsible for growth of leaves. So, if you growing any leafy veggies, salad greens or microgreens, white light is a must which can be turned on after germination. If you are using grow lights for ornamentals, then white light is necessary because most of them are foliage plants.

Orange/Red light – This spectrum is important for flowering and fruiting of plants. So after a few weeks of sowing, look up for the days to flowering for the plants you are growing and start giving them this spectrum of light 5 to 7 days before in order to produce flowers and then fruits. Basically, all the veggies, fruit trees and indoor flowering plants will require this spectrum. 

Note: White light has all the colours of the spectrum but that doesn’t mean you need to just provide white grow lights. Certain colours are harmful and will inhibit many processes in a plant. This small yet important knowledge of lights will help you plan better and will keep your plants healthy. Green light is not at all useful as plants reflect them, that’s why they are green!

Written by
Antra Thada

A small guide to using grow lights in your garden

PART – 1 : Choosing the type of grow lights

Plants are autotrophs, which means they synthesize their own food by converting light energy into chemical energy and ultimately into food through photosynthesis. Now the light utilized by them is emitted through the sun naturally. But since we are shifting to crowded spaces with little or no exposure to the sun in our homes, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider growing your own veggies. And in such cases, grow lights will come to the rescue. Even in some cases when you think you have a good source of sunlight, it might not just be enough.

The plants can be categorized as long day, short day and day-neutral plants. The names speak for themselves, short day plants require light for fewer hours to flower and produce fruits while long day plants require light for more hours and day neutral plants will bloom irrespective of the duration of light. Most summer vegetables and flowers are long day plants and may require grow lights. If the light in your garden space is not sufficient then short day plants and day neutral plants will also require them.

So how to decide which grow light is best suited for your needs?

Before choosing a grow light you should first know the difference between a grow light and a normal light.

All of us have seen a rainbow which has 7 colours. Each colour is a result of different wavelengths of light. For eg., red colour is emitted due to 650 nm wavelength. Photosynthesis occurs at a specific wavelength known as PAR (Photosynthetically active radiation) which ranges between 400 to 700nm. Normal lights do not emit radiation in this range, that is why we require to grow lights for plants.

There are different types of lights available in the market. The three most prominent ones are LEDs, HIDs and fluorescent ones. 

Incandescent bulbs – these are pretty basic bulbs which can work well with some amount of natural light. But these lights throw out too much heat which may damage the plants. So I would advise jumping on the next one.

Fluorescent lights – They produce less heat and come in a wide range of colours. They give out shorter wavelengths hence their use is limited. They can be used for germination of seeds, root initiation in cuttings or to improve the vegetative growth of seedlings. They can’t be used for fruiting, flowering or vigorous vegetative growth. There are two types of fluorescent lights available – tube style and CFLs. CFLs are a more compact version so they are more suitable for smaller spaces.

High intensity discharges or HIDs – These are extremely efficient, produce very little heat and as a cherry on top, they are cheaper than LEDs. They are of 3 types:

  • HPS – High pressure sodiums emit red orangish light which is great for the flowering stage of plants.
  • MH – Metal halides are used for the vegetative phase of plants as they emit blue wavelength of light.
  • CMH – Ceramic metal halides are kind of a mixture of both HPS and MH. They have a broad spectrum and can be used for vegetative as well as flowering stages of plants.

LEDs – Light emitting diodes are the latest addition to the market. They can be customized according to our needs; they can be coded according to the wavelength required and can be operated fairly easily. Their installation and one time buying costs may be a little high, but they are highly efficient in power consumption, long lasting, space efficient and can be customized. 

So as now we have learnt what are the various options available, we can make a wise choice according to our needs. Here is a small summary comparing all the available options.

CharacterLEDsHIDsFluorescent 
TypesHPS, MH, CMHTube style and CFLs
Heat emittedVery lessVery lessHigh 
SizeSmallMediumLarge, CFLs are small
Wavelength/ SpectrumFull spectrumCMH – BroadMH – BlueHPS – redBlueish 
Energy consumptionHighly efficientModerate efficiencyHigh energy consumption
*Lifespan50k to 100k hours or around 14 years6k to 24k hours or 3 years15k to 25k hours or 8 years
CostMedium Medium to highLow

*Lifespan is just an average number based on some survey. Actual life span may vary upon your usage and care and maintenance. 

Part 2 coming up soon!!

Written by:
Antra Thada

Beneficial insects for your Garden

Whenever we hear about insects, our common reaction is to get rid of them as they could destroy our beautiful plants. But let me tell you the other side of the story. Not all insects are harmful, in fact only 1/10th of the total insects can harm your garden. The rest are either beneficial or harmless. The beneficial ones can be classified into three categories –

Pollinators –

The work of these insects is to transfer pollens from male parent to female parent. This leads to fertilization and formation of seeds which help in propagation of plants. Many of the fruits that we eat are developed only after pollination and fertilization. Furthermore, the beautiful flowers that we see, are an adaptation to attract pollinators towards the plants.

Examples – Wasps, ants, flies, midges, beetles, bees and colourful butterflies.

Predators –

These insects eat other harmful insects, pests and bugs. They also feed upon larvae of pests which might be lethal for your plants. Predators feed upon different species of insects. So having them in your garden is a good sign. They are an important part of the food chain and with their presence, you don’t have to use harmful chemicals to kill pests.

Examples – Spiders, ladybugs or lady bird beetles, lacewings and mantids.

Parasites –

This is the third category of beneficial insects. They help us in protecting our plants by feeding on them but in a slightly different manner than predators. The parasites lay eggs on the body of insects and when these eggs hatch, the larvae feed upon the insect’s body. This eventually kills the host.

Examples – Parasitic wasps, Aphidius ervi

So whenever you see these flying or roaming around your plants, don’t scare them away. These insects help complete the food chain and maintains the ecological balance of your garden. You can even include some plants which attract these beneficial insects. Wasps and bees are attracted to coriander, dandelion, zinnia and parsley while bugs are attracted to alfalfa, marigolds and dandelions. So I guess instead of feeling nauseous or creepy around them, we should try to live in harmony with the bugs for the betterment of our plants!

Why is water essential for plants?

You might be wondering what kind of question is this? Of course water is essential for every living organism, this is like a no brainer. Ok so wait, can you tell me why? Now here you might get a little confused and you might start to wonder and some common answers might pop up like for hydration, keeps the plant cool etc. All these things are correct but there is more. As a plant lover and a plant parent we should definitely have more knowledge about the most essential element for our little green friends. So, today let me take you on a journey of a water molecule right from the beginning of a new plant life i.e., a seed.

For Seed

We buy some seeds, sow them in soil and water them. After that magically it sprouts and a new plant life is born. What role does water play here? If you have a close look at the seed, it has a very hard outer covering or the seed coat which protects it from harsh conditions. In that seed coat there is a small hole which is responsible for absorbing water. Once an adequate amount of water is collected inside the seed, it starts to soften the coat and generates pressure on the miniature version of the plant to get bigger in size. That mini plant will force itself out of the seed and germinate. So, this process of germination cannot be established without water. In fact, it is more essential than soil as we know seeds can germinate purely in water too. You might have sprouted chickpeas, by immersing them in water we activate certain mechanisms inside them and the chickpeas also become soft after one night of soaking. Next time whenever you see a seed germinating, remember that this magic happened due to water.

For plant growth

Once the plant has germinated, now it needs to get bigger and establish its roots. Water plays an essential part here also. The cells absorb water and in turn the water molecules pressurize them to expand. Now imagine millions of cells expanding themselves which will ultimately result in plant growth. And all this is possible only through water.

For Photosynthesis 

It is the process through which plants prepare their own food and food is incomplete without water. There are many reactions during the process of photosynthesis which cannot be completed without water. But we are not going to get into deep scientific things, this much knowledge is enough.

Transport of essential elements

How do plants transport things? The answer is – Water ways! Plants dissolve all essential elements like minerals, foods, nutrients, hormones and other essentials in water and transport them to various parts.

For fruit formation

Who doesn’t like delicious fruits plucked directly from trees? Or those fresh veggies or salad greens? The major component of all these fruits and vegetables is water. And all this water is absorbed by the plants and stored in the edible parts for us to enjoy.

Basically, water makes up around 1/3rd volume of the plants. It is required in almost every reaction and at every step as we have read in the above-mentioned points. So, the next time if anybody asks you why water is essential for plants, you know the answer!

Happy gardening folks!

Written by
Antra Thada

It’s time to get lucky… Here’s how you can propagate Lucky Bamboo Plants at home!

Now a days it is a very common to see little bamboo stems growing in water baths. They can be placed on desks, on coffee tables or on shelves for decorative purposes. They can be found in various shapes, sizes or can be molded into different looks like braided bamboo sticks. They are very easy to train and grow. It is a common belief that this plant brings good luck in your lives if it is gifted to you. Even the number of stalks have specific meaning to them. For instance, two stalks area sign of love, three stalks bring luck, happiness and wealth whereas five stalks represent prosperity in health and so on.

Another interesting fact about these plants is that although they look very similar to bamboos, but they are not mini versions of actual bamboo trees. They are a type of Dracaena (Scientific name: Dracaena sanderiana), which are similar to succulents. So, their care, maintenance and propagation should be done accordingly.

How to propagate lucky bamboos?

They are fairly easy to propagate through stem cuttings. Just follow these few simple steps –

  • Take a clean sharp blade or knife and cut its stem in one fine go.
  • Make sure that the cutting is from the main stalk and has at least one leaf joint.
  • Trim all the excess leaves to expose the nodes
  • The naked cutting should be placed in filtered water or preferably in distilled water.
  • Keep on replacing the water after the interval of 4 – 5 days and keep the container clean.
  • You will see small red hairy roots appearing beneath the surface of water after 3 to 4 weeks or 30 days.
  • After the roots have emerged, transfer the cuttings into a pot. Fill it with water or with some colourful pebbles or a pot of soil.
  • If you want your plant to be bushier, trim the extra shoots which are growing from the main stem or stalk with the help of sterile blades. This will help in generation of new growth in a much faster pace.

These stalks can live upto 2 to 3 years if grown in clean, good quality water. Replace the water regularly and clean the container if it looks muddy or stained.

You can even place the plant in rich soil rather than keeping them in water. Lucky bamboo plants in potted soil tend to survive a few more years.

So gift your loved ones with some lucky bamboo stalks to shower blessings and good luck upon them.

Written by
Antra Thada