Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coleus Propagation from Small Clippings

It's sort of spring-ish, so I thought I'd finally post on my Coleus propagation, which I actually did at the end of last summer.  Coleus are a great plant that have very colorful leaves and grow like crazy, so they make very pretty decorative plants (no need to wait for them to bloom!).  On the left are photos of some displays of Coleus on Grand Avenue.  My goal was to propagate Coleus using less than the standard 6 inch clippings that most people recommend.  I did this by rooting coleus clippings in glasses of water, then planting them in dirt.  To that end, I used 3 inch clippings of four different Coleus plants, and also tried using just clipped leaves from the plants.  In the end, I managed to get 3 of the 4 types of plants to successfully propagate from the 3 inch clippings.  The leaves actually managed to root in water, and lived for many months in soil, but never actually grew at all, and eventually died.  The 3 plants that did survive have been doing amazingly well, and throughout the winter I had to trim them back at times to keep them under control.  So, I heartily recommend propagating Coleus.  It is easy and very rewarding.

How to do it:

The Very Simple Version:
-Put 3 inch clippings in a glass of water, leave until roots sprout and are about 1 inch long
-Carefully plant in dirt (same type of dirt as the plant you got the clippings from is in)

The more in-depth version:
First I took multiple 3 inch long (or so) clippings from a variety of Coleus plants and put them in glasses of water.  I trimmed off the biggest leaves and just left two or four leaves at the ends of each stem.  I left about an inch to an inch and a half of stem under the water.  These stems had a tendency to curl after a few days in the water, so I had to periodically shift the plants so that they would stay submerged.

After 4-5 days I started seeing roots growing off the stems.  Depending on the plant, it may take a bit longer than this for the roots to start.

When the roots were about an inch or so long (about 8 days after starting for the quickest plant) I very carefully took them out of the water and put them in dirt (in shallow holes).  The roots are very fragile, so you have to be careful with them.  Try to keep the roots spread out in the dirt so that they are not all clumped together.  Cover them very carefully with dirt, and add water.  Of the Coleus plants I tried to propagate, two were successful in regular potting soil, but one required looser African Violet potting soil to thrive (to determine which you need, check the dirt from the plant you take a clipping from).

It took a few weeks before the first new buds grew from the plants, but once they did the plants took off (as shown in this not so great photo).  Can't wait to put them outside once it's warmer out! In terms of taking care of the Coleus, you can leave them in full or partial sun indoors, and water periodically (the leaves will droop when they really need water, but will spring back up when you water them!).  More on coleus and what happens in different light conditions here.

Update: It's flowering!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food: Bruschetta and Black Olive Crostini

Bruschetta and Black Olive Crostini are two of my favorite appetizers, so I thought I would add them to the blog.  Bruschetta is basically toast with a tomato topping, and Black Olive Crostini is basically toast with a cooked black olive topping. Since they are so similar (and easy to make), I usually make them at the same time.  Both of these taste best as soon as they're made. Note that the Crostini uses garlic powder while the Bruschetta uses garlic salt.   

How to make Bruschetta: 

Loaf of Italian bread or French Bread (baguette style)
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Garlic Salt

Preheat oven to 425F
The Bread:
-Take a loaf of Italian or French bread, and slice it up.
-Drizzle or brush olive oil onto the bread, and toast in the oven at 425 degrees (or just use a toaster oven).
-Toast until the bread starts to turn golden brown.

The Topping:
-Take tomatoes (I used five baseball sized tomatoes for one loaf of french bread), and cut them up into cubes
-Drain off as much liquid as you can from the chopped tomatoes 
-Add olive oil (a few tablespoons)
-Finely chop up a few leaves of fresh basil and mix them in
-Finally, add garlic salt to taste
-Put the topping on the bread (a spoonful per slice) and serve!   

How to make Black Olive Crostini 
(don't be fooled, it's as easy as it looks!)

Loaf of Italian or French bread (baguette style)
6oz jar of Black Olives
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 425F

-Drain the liquid from the olive can, and finely chop the olives (I use an olive chopper).
-Mix in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and garlic powder to taste.
-Slice up the bread and put a spoonful of topping on each slice.
-Bake until the bread becomes crispy.  Serve and enjoy!    

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Poison Dart Frogs

Buoyed by the success of my first clay and wire frog, I decided to make a few more of different colors.  I made them in the exact same manner, with a clay body and wire for the forelegs, and then painted them according to different species' color patterns
                                                            See the original how-to here!

Left to Right, I now have a Bumblebee poison dart frog, a Strawberry poison dart frog (Blue Jeans color morph), a Dyeing poison dart frog, and a (aptly named) Green and Black poison dart frog.  They have taken up residence in my orchids (though they are better suited to bromeliads), and I'm quite pleased with them :)