That One Time I Did a Thing

So I did a thing. It’s a cool thing, too. Let me back up for a second.

A friend of mine has a cinnamon tree. Like, real cinnamon. You peel the bark, let it dry, and BOOM! Cinnamon for tea, baking, sticking up your nose… (just me, then? I’ll move along.) I didn’t know that cinnamon came from a tree at all. I thought it came from a can.

Last February, my friend asked me if I wanted some cuttings to try vegetative propagation ( a fancy term meaning: start a plant from cuttings). Of course, I did. She brought me several. I read all kinds of stuff on the internet, but almost no one had any real info on growing from cuttings, so I improvised. I dipped the ends in rooting hormones. One was potted in a plastic bag full of soil. One was in straight water. Another was  planted in normal potting soil and set outside.

Two died right away. One lingered. For nine months. It never turned brown, but it never grew, either. By that point, I knew I had to have a cinnamon tree of my very own. So where does one turn in times of such crisis? Why, to Ebay, of course. And that’s when I learned how expensive these things are. Like, eighty bucks.  For a tree. Yeah. My husband would totally be on board with that.

I looked through all the listings, and I found a little six-inch baby tree for $15. It was unseasonably warm for November, but I was afraid we’d have a cold snap and the tree would freeze before it arrived in the mail, so I contacted the seller. We chatted back and forth for a bit, and I realized I had found a seller who wanted me to succeed. So I placed my order.

When the package arrived, I discovered that Dave’s Garden hadn’t sent a six inch tree. They’d sent seedlings instead. Five of them. They said a seedling is tougher than larger plants, and they had sent extra so that I had a good chance of ending up with at least one thriving tree.

So how does a small, warm-weather, humidity-loving seedling survive in a house that stays 65 degrees in the winter? The only answer was a greenhouse. So I made one. Out of stuff I had lying around the house – specifically, a ten-gallon aquarium, two ziploc bags, some packing tape, and a light bulb.

I planted the seedlings and placed the pots in the ten gallon tank. Then I split the two bags along the sides to make a cover to hold in humidity. Then I put the little makeshift greenhouse on my baker’s rack and set it under a regular 60 watt bulb.

A month or so after setting up the seedlings, and look!

grow trees from cuttings

The new growth is a beautiful red color. It’s so pretty!

And now I’m three months into the project. The trees are growing so well that I have had to peel back the plastic to make room for new growth! And I have five healthy seedlings to show for my efforts.

This project has been such a success that I’m trying to grow some other things, too. What’s next for me? I’ve got my eye on one of Dave’s Garden’s nutmeg seeds…

What cool projects have you tried recently?

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29 thoughts on “That One Time I Did a Thing

  1. How much awesomeness is this?!! I’ll be honest: someone asks me if I wanna “try vegetative propagation,” and I am gonna think they’ve just broken the world record for Low-Key Way to Proposition a Hook-up. (The current reigning champ of course being “Netflix and chill?”)

    Can’t wait to hear about the ongoing adventures of the zookeeper and her 5 cinnamon seedlings!

    • Me, too! It’s so exciting to see new things take root. It’s an addiction of sorts. I don’t need more plants, but spring brings this tendency out of me. I told my husband to buck up because it’s either new plants or new baby. So far, he hasn’t said a word.

      For the record, I’m done having kids, but spring means new life somehow. It’s ingrained in me.

  2. I got an aquaponic kit in February. Mostly just followed the instructions but hubby and I didn’t want to get the recommended Betta fish. Not into the tropical fish trade. So we experimented with rose minnows instead and so far it’s a success. Hardy little fish. The planters on top produce wheat grass and radish sprouts. I just love it.

  3. I love the idea of making your very own cinnamon tree. I’m going to see if I can do it too. I am inspired, thank you.

  4. I have grown willow trees in CA from NC cuttings (and transported said cuttings across state lines, which I didn’t know was a no-no); never had anyplace permanent to plant my 10′ tall willow & ended up neglecting it on a 2nd floor balcony, to its demise.

    Hubs & I have also attempted Croot #1 & Croot #2 (celery) and RLoot #1 (romaine lettuce) in our Burbank windowsill. Croots did amazingly well in the glass bowls of water; notsomuch once transplanted into potting soil. RLoot did naught.

    I am incredibly “scentsitive”, so I don’t think I could grow cinnamon.

      • I have lavender and aloe to try to help my air stay clean and breathable. I’ve never tried tomatoes because I’ve always heard that they’ll take over the world… and at this point, we don’t even have a balcony to call our own, and I don’t want the bugs that seem to come with pots of veggies (fruit?).

        And my point about my scentsitivity was that I don’t even USE cinnamon, so there’s no point in me growing it. But yours looks fab!

  5. Funny, my last projects, together with a veeery enthusiastic 7-year old and a not-interested-whatsoever 4-year old: vegetative propagation of bougainvillea and germinating avocados from their pips. Success rate? Mediocre at best. Maybe it is too hot here in the Cape Verdean winter? Good luck with your cinnamon trees!

    • Cilantro is another one that is sensitive to heat. Buddleia are pretty successful with making starts from cuttings, but I don’t know if they are available that far south!

      Carrots start pretty easily from tops. I even have a little orange tree in the greenhouse because I can’t come across a seed, even in my food, without popping it into soil to see what will happen!

  6. Wow! Cinnamon tree sounds so exotic!! If you decide to sell one – I’m in. I’ll even come there to pick it up. (I want to see your zoo too!) It would go well with my Orange tree. And, of course, Hubby would love another potted tree he has to haul in and out of the garage all winter long…

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