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Vermont Garden Journal: The Key To Clean Air At Home? Houseplants

Houseplants can brighten up any room in the dark winter months. You can replant houseplants like, African violets, by making cuttings from plants you already have.

Houseplants are great for cleaning the air and brightening up a house during the dark winter months. They actually reduce depression and anxiety and help patients heal faster. Two methods for growing more house plants are cutting and air layering.


Common plants to take cuttings from include African violets, coleus, geraniums and begonias. Here's how to make a cutting:

  1. Choose a healthy leaf, cut it, leaving a small petiole or stem and dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder
  2. Stick the cut end in a plastic pot filled with slightly moistened potting soil
  3. Place the cutting in a bright location out of direct sun and mist it every few days. In a few weeks the leaf should start to root
  4. Stem cuttings are taken in a similar way by cutting a 4-to-6-inch long piece of stem, removing the bottom leaves and following the leaf-cutting directions

Air Layering

Air layering is a fun way to propagate bigger plants like rubber trees, Dracena, and ficus. Here's how to do an air layering:

  1. Select a woody side branch and measure 1-foot from the tip
  2. Remove the leaves where you'll be cutting
  3. With a sharp knife, make a 1-inch wide cut girdling all around bark all around the branch. Don't cut the center of the stem
  4. Dust the wound with rooting hormone powder and cover the wound with a small handful of moisten, sphagnum peat moss wrapped around the branch
  5. Secure the peat moss with black plastic and plant ties.
  6. Check the peat moss ball weekly and once roots are obvious, cut the branch from the mother plant and repot it.

This week's garden tip: Check over-wintered dahlia and canna tubers. If they're shriveled, mist them with water. If they're rotting, let them dry out. If they're sprouting, pot them up and place them in a cool, bright room until spring.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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