Growing carnivorous plants from cuttings: Indoor garden activities with kids

Rigorous scientific research has proven beyond any doubt that long winter days indoors are much harder on parents than kids. Science also offers remedies to the winter doldrums in the form of kid-friendly indoor garden activities. After a particularly cold spell, we decided to get the whole Kids Seed Co. crew together and learn about plant propagation through practice.

We keep several carnivorous pitcher plants in our home because we are avid gardeners, but mostly because our kids love fruit and we have a bit of a fruit fly problem. The pitcher plants are lovely and lure bugs into their sticky pitcher traps, where they are slowly digested. Carnivorous plants are a true marvel of nature and they have a significant role in the evolution of botanical scientific knowledge.

Our kids know a good deal about growing plants from seeds but we wanted to show them how to root new plants from cuttings. We were also looking at a long afternoon of temperatures in the teens so an organized indoor activity seemed like a good way to keep most everyone happy. With scissors, planting pots, rooting hormone powder, snacks and the unabashed enthusiasm of youth, we dove headlong into the project.

The kids cut several growing stems off the pitcher plants. A clean cut with a very sharp implement is critical for successful rooting so watch your fingers and theirs because children are totally dangerous and unpredictable.

Once the leaves are trimmed, water is sprayed on the cut site and a coating of powder rooting hormone is placed on the moist tip. Rooting hormone is not necessary but it does send powerful chemical messages to the plant to grow roots. I generally apply the powder myself because the bottle of root-boost says to keep it away from kids.

The trimmed cuttings are placed in planting pots filled with peat and sphagnum. Kids adore having their hands in the dirt, smelling dirt and occasionally tasting and throwing dirt. I should have mentioned this activity is very messy, although the observant parent could probably tell from the blog title.

The plant cuttings are now focused on growing new roots. They need to be moistened frequently and like a child in winter getting shoes, jackets, gloves, hats and hopefully underwear on before getting in the van to go to school, trying to rush the rooting process is futile.

Happy indoor gardening, spring is coming soon.