Plant Parenting

Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables and Flowers
Reviewed by Georgie Kennedy 

Addicted gardeners can always make room for new plant babies, especially during our enforced homestays. Plant Parenting by Leslie F Halleck, a prolific horticultural writer and speaker, is a beautiful how-to guide to plant propagation. With its clear, bright photos and easy layout, this book will appeal to anyone wanting to fill their living space with greenery the inexpensive way.   

The reader will find helpful advice for both seed growing and several types of vegetative propagation methods. Halleck makes practical suggestions on how to get started, with chapters on tools, equipment, pests, and common problems. There are two helpful tables, one showing Vegetative Methods for common plants and another for Seed Temperatures and Germination Times. Ontario residents will need to eliminate Vinca from the latter table, as it’s a known invasive plant here. Be sure to read Understanding Plant Names for important cautions about the legalities of growing and selling patented or PPAF plants before beginning any projects.     

This book inspired me to try multiplying a few plants I’d previously considered difficult. My begonia seedlings are thriving because I heeded her advice on removing the humidity dome to prevent damping off when a mold problem developed. My stem cuttings of basil, pelargonium, and dieffenbachia have healthy, vigorous roots. Leaf cuttings of jade plant, Christmas cactus, and kalanchoe are still forming calluses and should soon form roots , although these succulents were not mentioned in the methods table. Plant Parenting demonstrates that creating new plants can be a joyful experiment; you expand your knowledge while experiencing the thrill of nurturing each emergent sign of life. Plant Parenting, Easy Ways to Make More Houseplants, Vegetables and Flowers by Leslie F. Halleck, Timber Press. 

Georgie Kennedy is a Toronto Master Gardener, a garden writer and an avid caretaker of her gardens in Toronto and Jamaica.