I’ve been propagating plants in some form or another for 8 years now, starting off by starting seeds and going through to working with cuttings, division, and layering. After reading Miranda Smith’s The Plant Propagator’s Bible, I can tell you that I still have a lot to learn! This small book is jam packed with useful information and color photographs to visually show the process.
The book follows a nice progression starting with tools and techniques, and progressing through starting from seed, dividing plants, cuttings, layering, and grafting. It then has a plant directory appendix, which is incredibly useful. The plant directory provides easily accessible propagation info on all of the plants, which includes the easiest way to propagate the plant, additional methods that work, and propagation problems. After reading the book in its entirety, this section is particularly useful to keep for an at-hand reference guide.
Smith goes in depth on each of the propagation topics. We’ll take cuttings for example. She goes through the usual hardwood, softwood, and greenwood cuttings but also goes beyond that. She has specific sections for conifers and canes and also touches on cutting techniques such as leaf petiole and leaf vein cuttings. Each of these methods is explained in detail, as well as illustrated graphically. The book is equally informative of other propagation methods as well, such as for seed starting going into stratification, light, and humidity requirements, and much more.
I found the chapter on grafting to be of particular interest. As someone who has never grafted, when I do start some grafting experiments I plan on having this book right by my side. The book goes into 10 grafting methods (including grafting cacti) and also lists the plants that the particular grafting technique works well on, and even lists the characteristics of different rootstocks you may consider.
The Plant Propagator’s Bible by Miranda Smith is probably in the top two plant propagation books I’ve ever read. The other top spot would be Easy Plant Propagation by Mike McGroarty, which is very different but useful as well. This book is an incredible reference material that puts lots of practical info together into a very convenient format. A very well done book.
Do you have a favorite book on plant propagation? If so, please let me know in the comments below. Any gardening books you’d like to see reviewed? Send those my way too, I love discovering new gardening books.