Save This Plant!

We all have a friend or relative who is absolutely crazy about a particular plant and will go to any extreme to keep it from dying. It might be a rarity, but more often the attachment is purely emotional as is the case with some English ivy from a particular wall. Right now there are two window boxes full of little plants on my grow rack and they are beginning to trail. Why, you might ask, does anyone want to grow or have more of this all-too-common plant? It is even outlawed in places like Atlanta, GA, because of its rampant, choking growth. I am growing it as a favor, of course, for someone who had but a sprig left from a very special patch.

The ivy grew on the brick of her sweet home that was destroyed in a storm, knocked down by the wind and flooded with the water. Since there was so much destruction, the economy suffered and they decided to move rather than rebuild on the same site. There wasn’t much to take, but she saw the ivy sprouting a new leaf while still stuck to a piece of a brick wall and had to have it.  She dug up the ivy, stuck dirt, vine and all into a plastic bag and took to her new home where she grew it up a tree. After two decades, that tree fell over in yet another big storm and the sudden sunlight plus a summer drought nearly killed the ivy. She tried to keep it going, but finally asked me to take some cuttings and try to grow a new stand of the plant so she can once again grow it – or better to say IT, this plant and only this plant. No pressure there!

The goal here is to root a vining ground cover like ivy, perennial vinca, jasmine, or most any other so it is easily transplanted to the landscape. It is also true that vines can develop roots at each joint as well as at the tip of the cutting. That combination calls for rooting in a shallow flat to accommodate 4-6 inch pieces of vine and to encourage roots to grow wider than deep. Mix a rich mix that will drain well, too. You can combine a good quality potting mix with ground bark, coarse sand, or perlite to fill the flats. Roll the entire cutting stem in Hormex Rooting Hormone #3 or #8 if the vines are woody. Nestle the cuttings into the flat of damp mix and water them in. Put the flats in the shade and water them weekly with Hormex Liquid Concentrate mixed 1 T/1 gallon of water.

The English ivy is doing fine since I moved it into the window boxes two months ago. The boxes will fit nicely on her porch and the ivy might even climb its columns with a little encouragement. Yes, I will tell her to pull it off every few years and repaint! It was easy to lift the rooted plants from the flat and they took right off. I’ve added impatiens for color and the ivy makes a nice skirt for them. She may want more, so I’ll fill another flat to give to her along with the window boxes.

Years ago, there was a regular column in one of the so-called ‘woman’s magazines’ that asked the question, “Can this marriage be saved?” It always seemed that the answer was yes, if the couple took their issues seriously and worked to bring romance back into the relationship. Likewise, most plants can be saved and when there is a sweet sentiment or great passion involved, it is important to try.

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