Here’s what I was doing all week:
I absolutely love scented geraniums. I think there are very few herbs that I grow that I dislike (orange mint does spring to mind), but as a general category I find the geraniums very romantic and classy. There isn’t much demand, but I’m always hoping there will be some sort of resurgence in their old popularity. They’re even edible! (Please do not eat your own geraniums, they are probably not.)
So what are these? These are unrooted cuttings. We grow all of our own plants in the greenhouse (as opposed to places like Walmart and Lowes, whose plants aren’t grown on-site and have to get shipped in from other greenhouses), but not everything is from seed. There are advantages to both, but as far as the herbs go, the main advantage is that the plants you get are true to type. This means that if I get cuttings of a variegated* mint, the branches cut from the parent plant all display the variegation; seeds from that plant might only yield a percentage of variegated baby plants. It also reduces the risk of cross-pollination. If you’ve ever had mint in your garden that crossbred with other mints and had mutant baby mints, you will know why that might be important. Cuttings are true to flavor as well.
So we get many many many little pieces of plants, and then we stick them in trays of soil, keep them watered and warm, and wait for them to grow roots. The other bonus is that it takes less time to get a good-sized plant this way– I’d never convince people to buy my lavender if it was from seed. It would be so absurdly tiny if grown on the same schedule as cuttings.
*variegation: combination of colors on a leaf, instead of plain green. Wikipedia has a nice article about different causes.
Possibly a new variety, but probably not. I’ve noticed a lot of inconsistency in how companies label their herbs, and don’t get me started on how badly they do with the Latin. Most likely Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’, which we get every year from Hishtil. This bunch was labeled ‘Blondie’ and is from PSI, who always have lovely plants but sometimes don’t get the names right. ‘Aureum’ is usually a much brighter, yellowy gold but has a tendency to go green when it doesn’t get enough light, so we’ll see soon enough! It is my favorite oregano, and we have it planted all around the house.
The trusty 200 tray, friend of anything but mint since 2001. (The trays have been around longer, but my herb business hasn’t) Way back in that first picture, you can see trays of lavender (mmm ♥) and scented geraniums– those are in 105-cell trays. 200’s and 105’s are the same overall dimensions and take up the same amount of space on the table, so the cells on a 105 are bigger and hold more dirt, while the 200’s are smaller. This means that the 105’s are good for bigger, fluffier plants (so that they are less crowded in the tray) or ones that root faster (and will therefore be in the trays longer, since I won’t be planting until February or March). The 200’s are good for things that root more slowly, since there is less space to fill with roots, and a smaller volume of dirt which will hold less water/dry out a little faster and be less likely to drown or rot the plants. The 105’s that you can see are actually Fertiss trays. Normally we get empty plastic trays and fill them with soil ourselves, but the Fertiss are a pre-filled plastic tray with the dirt held in paper tubes. Some plants will root better if there’s some airflow around the roots, plus they would dry out faster and be less soggy than normal 105’s. I always have trouble with my rosemary and lavender, so they’re getting a trial run in the Fertiss this year.
Phew!! And now you know.