Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The gift that keeps on giving... propagating plants.

By: Margaret Bradley, the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS)
From: The White House Gardener Mysteries by Dorothy St. James

Although summer may be hot as all get out in the D.C. area, it's also a time when I get to enjoy a wonderful palate of annual flowers.

Although I hate to pick favorites--it's bad politics--there's one flower that shines above all the rest. I love the plant not only for its persistent blooms. It also survives times of drought with the tenacity that reminds me of my John when he'd first started out in politics. And the plant is one of the easiest to propagate from a cutting. What is this amazing plant? 

Why, it's the portulaca (or moss rose).

The portulaca comes in many different bloom colors and varieties. It grows like a weed. Indeed, some people might consider it a weed. (I don't.) It's happy in a pot or growing directly in the ground as a creeping ground cover.

And as I'd said before, it propagates so easily. That's what makes it a plant that keeps on giving! This is how you can make one plant into many plants:

1. Pinch off a leafy branch (about two inches or so should do.)
2. Stick about a quarter inch of the bottom cutting into a pot of gardening soil or directly into the ground.
3. Water.

Really, it's that easy! The plant clipping will sprout roots and within no time at all grow into a full-sized plant of it's own.
So when someone admires one of the many pots of my lovely portulaca blooms around the White House, I'll bend down, pluck off a small piece and tell them to take it home and stick it in some soil. In a few weeks, they'll have a plant straight from the White House. How's that for winning supporters for my husband?

* * * * * * *
Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Flowerbed of State is the first book in the series. Be sure to grab your copy while they're still available! Visit with Dorothy on the web or at Facebook. Or follow her onTwitter.
"Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans." 
Publishers Weekly
Order Flowerbed of State from your favorite bookseller. 
Praise for The Scarlet Pepper:
"Itching to get out there and dig in the dirt, but don’t quite have the energy to pull yourself up off the couch?  Read The Scarlet Pepper by Dorothy St. James.  It’s a heckuva whodunit, and it’s practically gardening via proxy – what better compromise could you hope to find?" ~ The Season Blog

"A potboiler of homicide, blackmail, journalism, power and sex - but one that St. James handles with taste as well as verve - “The Scarlet Pepper” fulfills the promise of last year’s series debut, “Flowerbed of State,” and then some." ~ Richmond Times-Dispatch 
 Order The Scarlet Pepper from your favorite bookseller.


  1. What a great idea for a dry, hot summer like this! I have sunflowers blooming already.

  2. I am definitely in favor of indestructible plants that take care of themselves. Love the cover!

  3. These are hardy plants. I put my clipping, which is now a full plant in one of the rockiest, toughest parts of my garden and it's happily blooming. You've gotta love a plant with such staying power!

    I love sunflowers, Opal! The other day I was driving along a road and came upon a corn field that was completely surrounded by sunflowers. Beautiful!

  4. And they are so easy to get seeds from... just let the little seed pods dry out on the plant, and pop them open to get the little black seeds! Late in summer I always collect seeds from this year's for next year, (putting them in a paper envelope, not plastic!)and just sprinkle them on the soil early. They grow like mad!

  5. I love these. I had the most gorgeous plant last year. I looked and looked for them this summer but couldn't find them anywhere. I'll have to order some seeds so I won't be left out next year.

    ~ Krista