September 2011
The Herb Farm

Cutting My Woodies to Share With My Friends

This month marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 04:05 CDT on September 23 this year. That is always a time of celebration for me because it means it’s time to put my herb farming to bed for the winter and get some much needed rest.

Nevertheless, before then, I have more than three weeks of summer left to take cuttings of some of my herb plants. I am thinking ahead for gifts for my like-minded friends who celebrate Groundhog Day by giving gifts of nature and gardening.

 

Example of a six-inch stem cutting of bay laurel.

Late-summer and early-fall are the ideal times to take cuttings on some of my woody evergreen herbs like the bay laurel tree, winter savory shrub and rosemary.

Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is one of my favorite herbs to share with friends because it is not a common plant to find in most nurseries. Bays are difficult to grow from cuttings, but propagation from cuttings is easier than growing them from seed. Cuttings should be four to six inches in length and taken from the terminal portion of a branch. Strip at least two leaves from nodes at the basal end of the cutting. Injure the stem at the base by scraping off about a half inch of bark. Dip the cutting into a quick dip, liquid rooting hormone or talc of 0.003% IBA (Rootone®, etc.). Stick the cuttings into 72-cell deep plug flats. Community flats will be okay for this, but they take a little longer to establish in the next size up (3.5" round pots). Use a 1:1:1 ratio of peat, perlite and pine bark soil conditioner as your rooting medium and place under mist. It takes 45-90 days to root in.

Root winter savory and use them as border plants.

 

Winter savory (Satureja montana) makes a nice, short shrub to use as a border plant. It is also one of the more versatile culinary herbs I grow. The low bushes are fragrant when rustled and they produce white blooms. Cuttings should be three to four-inch long tip cuttings. Strip the bottom one-third leaves from the stem. Dip in 0.001% IBA talc and stick into 72-cell plug flats. Use a 1:1:.5 ratio of peat, perlite and pine bark soil conditioner as your rooting medium and place under mist. Roots should appear within 30 days.

 

Rosemary is one of the easiest woody herbs to propagate. Tip cuttings of soft, semi-hardwood and hardwood root well in a peat, perlite and pine bark medium.

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) is always a good perennial shrub to share with friends. Here at the farm, I grow a few different varieties. There is one cultivar that outshines the rest in durability, versatility and flavor and that one is the cultivar ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary. It can grow to heights of four to six feet and the same in width. It can be shaped into a topiary form or left to sprawl. To root rosemary, take four to six-inch tip cuttings. Strip the bottom quarter leaves off the stem and injure the basal end as described in the bay laurel paragraph. Dip in 0.001% IBA talc and stick into 72-cell plug flats. Again, like the savory, roots should appear within about 30 days.

Propagating plants is one of life’s pleasures that really gets me going! Propagating woody herbs for Groundhog Day gifts makes the cold days ahead more tolerable.

Thanks for reading! Happy Autumnal Equinox… Halloween’s on the way!

For more information, e-mail me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Be sure to find me on Facebook at: "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.