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How to Make a Forsythe Pot for Cuttings

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When I was taught how to make the forrsythe pot for rooting cuttings, I was shocked at how simple it was and even more surprised that I had all I needed in my craft cupboard and potting table.

Using a forsythe pot reduces the chance of rotting in young roots and cuttings also seem to root a little faster than using plain water alone. Rooting in vermiculite also increases transplanting success.

What you will need:

  • New Vermiculite
  • One 6 to 7 inch plastic pot with holes for drainage
  • One 2 1/2 inch clay/terra-cotta pot
  • Paper Towel or Coffee Filter
  • One cork or stopper that fits in the drain hole of the clay pot

Always be sure that if you are using a pot that has been used before, that it is cleaned well. I soak mine in a sink of hot water and chlorine bleach, scrubbing any debris away and then rinse it thoroughly. This ensures that the new cuttings will not be exposed to any diseases that may linger on the old container. 

 

Step 1

First we want to line the bottom of the plastic pot with a coffee filter or paper towel to help keep all of the vermiculite inside the container. Fill the plastic pot with vermiculite almost to the top of the container.

 

Step 2

Plug the hole of the clay pot with cork or whatever stopper you have, but be certain it is plugged well so water can's pour out of the drain hole. If you can't find a cork, see if you can get some green florists clay.  This works well too. Now twist the plugged clay pot into the center of the plastic pot until it is slightly sticking out above the vermiculite. Water the vermiculite until it is just begining to leak out of the drainage holes, and then fill the clay pot with water. From now on, you will only need to fill the center pot, because clay is porous, it will water the rest for you if you keep the center filled.

 

 

Taking a Cutting

Now, lets look at your plant and find a good place to take a cutting. If it is a branching plant, like many are, look for a branch where you see 3 or 4 new leaves coming in and cut it 3 or 4 inches back from the tip of this branch. Cut about a half inch below a node (the area where a leaf stem joins the main stem. This is the best place to make a cut because this area has actively dividing cells.

If there are lower leaves near the node gently remove them now, and if you decide to use a rotting hormone, dip the node in it (cinnamon is a great rooting hormone) then push the cut end into the moist vermiculite just enough so the node is below the surface

Some plants don't branch, like African Violets. In these cases, remove a single leaf and petiole (leaf stem) being sure the stem is no more than an inch long. Push the stem into the vermiculite so the underside of the leaf is touching the moist vermiculite. Small plantlets will form at the base of the leaf.

For non branching plants like the snake plant, make slits in the moist vermiculite with a knife and insert a 3 to 4 inch cutting of the leaf, or for smaller leaves, insert the base of the leaf.

If you can, read up on the best way to propagate your plant before you begin, some plants root faster and have less chance of rotting if their cut stems or leaves are callused over first.

Source: Various sources including Cornell University and University of Minnesota. Photos from University of Minnesota

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