A student in the landscaping class that I teach brought me a Pennyroyal cutting this week and a cutting of Spearmint. As most gardeners do, he expected a trade, so I was happy to give him cuttings of my Mountain Mint and Lemon Thyme.
A cutting is a little slip of a plant about 6-10″ long that can be placed in a medium until it grows roots. That “medium” might be water, soil, vermiculite, sand, or peat. Propagation is a fancy word for rooting cuttings of plants.
To root mints (including pennyroyal and the thymes), your job is very easy. Just use your fingers to pinch off a piece of the plant, about 6″ long. Place the cutting, cut side down, into some soil or another medium mentioned above (my favorite is vermiculite, as it holds its moisture and is lightweight). You don’t need to worry about adding rooting hormone to these cuttings — they are natural at rooting all by themselves. Keep the cutting moist, but do be sure that extra water is able to drain away.
After a couple of weeks, if you are antsy, you may check on your cutting by gently lifting up the stem. If it is tight, you probably have roots ready. If it pulls up, wait longer.
If you have the self-control needed, as I do not, leave the cutting alone for 3-8 weeks (depending on how warm the soil has been) so that you don’t damage the little roots by checking on them. When the cutting has a nice supply of roots (several more than 1-1/2″ long), you may put it into a prepared pot with potting soil or into the garden.
Trading cuttings not only saves you money, but also allows you to experience the gift of sharing!
by Lori Seaborg