Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

The Little Cutting That Could

21050229AI accidentally put a dieffenbachia cutting through quite an ordeal… and it came out in fine shape. Here’s the story:

On April 9, 2015, I taped a TV show on taking cuttings for a French-language TV network I work with. You can actually watch it here, if you don’t mind being bombarded by French. To get to the part that concerns this story, you don’t need to listen to the whole show, just the part called “Bouturage 2”, under the heading “Segments d’émission”, just below the image of the video.

During this particular show, I pretty much chopped a dieffenbachia into pieces, taking a tip cutting from the top, then a stem cutting from further down. I placed the loglike stem section on its side in a pot of moist soil so it could take root. After the show, I packed all my material into a cardboard box to take home and left it on a shelf in my basement… for 3 months. And that included the forgotten stem cutting.

It was only on July 3rd of the same year, nearly 3 months later, when I was trying to figure out what I had done with my bottle of rooting hormone, that I remembered the box. When I opened it, I found not only the missing hormone, but tools, pots, potting soil… and at the bottom of the box, the poor cutting. Its soil was completely dried out and had actually shrunk enough so that the cutting was now lying on top of the mix, not settled into it. It hadn’t rooted at all: it just looked like a thick green log.

In spite of everything, the cutting was still dark green and showed no signs of having dried out over its 3-month ordeal, so I replanted it, watered it well and put in a well-lit, warm spot under my grow lights.

About 3 weeks ago, barely a month after I started watering it, I noticed a green sprout popping up beside the cutting. And today, its first leaf is about to unfold. I expect it to make a full recovery… and become a nice big dieffenbachia that will soon decorate my living room! (As if I need one more big plant.)

So there you go. Forget about TLC: this cutting got 3 months of darkness and drought before receiving a modicum of care, but when given a second chance, it took it.

Isn’t nature amazing?

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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