June 13, 2012

Update for Fall 2012

The information below from Fall 2011 is still valid except the part about how last year the Wednesday evening class meeting was recommended, but not required. That didn't work so well. It turns out that it is in your best interests to attend. Last year only about 1/3 of my students attended, and most of those who didn't attend later in my end-of-semester survey said they wished they had. In fact, they said I should make it mandatory so subsequent students get the clear message that it is important to go. So take that as advice from your fellow students...attend the Wednesday night class meetings. And note that you'll certainly need to come on October 3, October 31 and November 28 anyway because we have exams on those dates.

- Tom

April 8, 2011

Update for Fall 2011

Plant Propagation Course Information

HORT 1001 - Plant Propagation

Fall 2011
Draft course Information

This is a course about how plants are put together, how they grow, how they reproduce and how we propagate them for our own use. Most students find this course to be quite enjoyable, particularly the labs in the greenhouse. However, most students also find it to be quite challenging and to require a substantial commitment of time on the way to earning the four credits. You really need to keep on top of the lectures and the labs. This is especially true of the lectures since they are only available on-line and you have to have the self-motivation and self-discipline to complete them on your own.


Plant Propagation is a 4-credit hybrid course combining required on-line lecture content delivered on the WWW via Moodle with a weekly, 2 hour hands-on lab. On Wednesday evenings I also hold a 1h:25m class meeting that is recommended but not required.


Dr. Tom Michaels, 456 Alderman Hall, 612-624-7711, michaels@umn.edu

Teaching Specialist:

Mr. Bill Peters, 162 Alderman Hall, pete2038@umn.edu


As a result of fully participating in this course, you will know more about basic biological concepts associated with plant structure, function and reproduction, recognize these in your daily life, and know how to apply these concepts to propagating plants. We also expect that you will:

  • Be able to recognize, describe, and define biological phenomena, concepts and terms using the language of biology.
  • Be able to provide examples to analyze and explain biological phenomena and concepts;
  • Recognize biological phenomena in unfamiliar situations;
  • Use scientific ways of inquiry to investigate problems
  • Be able to apply biological knowledge and ways of inquiry to inform personal and professional decisions

This course includes a major, hands-on laboratory component. We expect that when you satisfactorily complete the labs you will know how to increase plant numbers through asexual and sexual propagation. We also expect that you will know the methodology for conducting well-designed experiments and how to apply this methodology to new biological problems.


The lecture section content for this course will be primarily delivered on-line through audio, image and text files, as well as discussions, quizzes and reviews that are hosted on Moodle.

  • It is essential and required that you have reliable internet access, preferably high speed, several times each week so that you can access lecture materials and discussions.
  • The mp3 audio files that are companions to the web pages are must-listen podcast components of the course. You will need a sound card and speakers or headphones to listen to these mp3 files. Alternatively, these files can be downloaded to your favorite mp3 player or burned to a CD.
  • Weekly reading assignments in your required textbook (Plant Propagation. Toogood, ed.) and on the web are listed in the lab schedules. Complete the lab readings prior to your lab session There will be a weekly quiz in lab on the lab readings and an online quiz on the lecture information.

I will make weekly assignment in which I ask you to take/edit/upload and comment on digital snapshots in a Moodle Forum. My purpose in assigning the digital snapshots is to challenge you to discover, in the world around you, examples of the concepts that you are addressing in class. It has been my experience as both a teacher and a learner that the acts of discovering, digitally documenting and sharing these examples with others reinforces and places in a living context the information with which you have engaged in lecture.

  • It is essential and required that you have regular access to a digital camera capable of capturing 640x480 (less than 1 megapixel) images, and the ability to edit and upload those images to your Moodle Forums. You will receive some instruction on how to post to the blog, but you will not receive instruction on how to take digital images with your camera.
  • You do not need to buy a fancy, high megapixel camera. Older digital cameras will take satisfactory snapshots for this purpose, so long as you can get close enough to your subject while keeping the subject in focus. I have yet to see decent closeups from cellphone cameras, but I expect that the technology is coming. For now though I recommend you don't use your cellphone camera because the closeups are horrid. You need to know how to get the snapshot out of your camera, into your computer and uploaded to your Moodle Forum.
  • It will also be important for you to know how to crop your snapshot, using simple image editing software, so that your image highlights the subject that you want to emphasize, and minimizes distracting background. It will be essential that you be able to reduce your image size where the maximum height or width is 500 pixels so that when you attach and upload your image it is accepted by Moodle. You only need a small image like 500x500 pixels to display a reasonable sized picture on the web. If you upload a larger picture it is wastefully reduced by the viewer software or annoyingly spills over the edges of the viewer's display. And Moodle just won't accept it. Just don't. Figure out how to reduce those images to less than 500 x 500. If you don't have an image editor and you use Windows operating system, then I suggest you check out the editor called Photofiltre. That's what I use. If you download and install this product, you may want to uncheck the box that installs the "Ask" toolbar on your browser.

A class meeting is scheduled for 5:10 on Wednesday evening. Attendance is recommended but not required. During that class meeting we will have interactive demonstrations, review your questions about the previous week's on-line lecture material, and we will have an active learning session that usually involves drawing of plant parts or processes. My purpose in focusing on drawing illustrations during our active learning exercise is to reinforce your understanding of plant morphology, function and cycles. It has been my experience with other classes that the act of drawing helped them to learn and better understand the spatial and functional relationships of plant parts.

Internet, WWW and Moodle:

Since the lecture material is primarily delivered on-line, regular internet access is required and, due to the size of the image and audio files that you will download and upload, high-speed access is highly recommended. Internet access, web browser software, and the capability for viewing, editing and uploading images, listening to audio and fully accessing the various functions of Moodle is the responsibility of the student. The Moodle is available through your My Courses tab in your MyU Portal. The MyU site is password protected; you will need to use your UM id and password to get into the site. Student support information about Moodle, including information about how to set up your WWW browser, is available from the support pages at http://www1.umn.edu/moodle/ .

Required Textbook

Plant Propagation. 1999 or subsequent. American Horticultural Society, editor A. Toogood.

If you would like a textbook to accompany the lecture component of the course, I recommend Botany for Gardeners, revised edition, 2005 or subsequent, by Brian Capon. This text is not required.

Questions and Office Hours:

If you have questions about concepts presented in lecture or lab your first option is to bring your questions to the class meeting. The second option is to email Tom with lecture questions and Bill with lab questions. The third option is to schedule a face-to-face meeting with Tom or Bill, which can be done either through email or by phone. When you email, put "Plant Prop" in the subject line so that it gets our immediate attention. I will probably schedule regular office hours from 11am to 1pm on Tuesday and Thursday for the convenience of students in the Tuesday and Thursday labs, but I will have to confirm this later when the semester starts.


Approximately 40% of your grade will be determined by laboratory assignments. We have divided the lab assignments into 3 categories.

  • Experiments with lab reports and/or presentations. Exploration is an integral part of the course; your laboratory grade will depend on you performing experiments and making conclusions based on your results.
  • Techniques. You will be confirming your propagation technique attempts and results in writing.
  • Weekly lab quizzes based on the reading you do in preparation for the labs.

Lab Organization:

Some of the processes we will be observing in lab occur within several days while others require weeks. The material will be started as dictated by the time necessary for the plants to respond.

Making up labs is not possible!!!


Because the experiments must be started on time so that the observations can be made on time!!!

At the beginning of the semester you will start a lot of experiments even though you might not feel comfortable and confident working with plants yet. Your comfort and confidence will grow quickly though this experience. As the semester progresses, these experiments will be fitted into the course organization based on the time needed for the plants' responses to be observable. Careful organization of your notebook is essential so that you can follow the outcomes of the many experiments.

Lab Supplies:

Bill will inform you about the laboratory supplies that will be provided for you and those that you should purchase and bring with you to labs. We will be grafting and budding, both of which require extremely sharp cutting tools. Be careful! Always work slowly and never, let me repeat, NEVER cut toward yourself or another person. Always check the cutting edge before you begin working. If the razor blade looks dull, dispose of it in the case provided.

Greenhouse Plot Management:

Each student will be assigned a plot in the greenhouse. Using a permanent marker, label your plot with your full name and section number. Do not use ink - it will fade. If your label stake should get broken, replace it. Any unlabelled or poorly labeled plots may be assigned to someone else, misplaced or tossed. Your plots are small, but they are large enough to propagate hundreds of cuttings during the semester.

All potting must be done in the head house area where the pots and soil are located. Do not pot rooted cuttings in the mist house! After transplanting rooted cuttings into pots, they may be placed in the greenhouse area you are assigned. Plants have to be taken home as the semester progresses. We are short of greenhouse space.

Keeping up with a typical week's work:

Each week, usually by Monday evening, I will upload that week's lessons and related course materials to the Moodle site. The lessons and related material for a given week will include:

  • Two or more lessons that introduce and explain the week's key concepts, definitions, structures and functions through text and images. Reading and working through these lessions is required. Allow at least 2 hours.
  • A 30 minute audio file companion to each lesson that provides context, background and additional explanations. Listening to these is required. Allow 1 hour. A link to these is provided in each of the lessons.
  • Web links to other reading and background information. While all of these links are there to enrich your learning, I'll inform you which pages are required reading. Allow 1/2 hour.
  • Assigned digital snapshots and discussion. Each week I'll ask you to take a couple of snapshots of particular objects that are relevant to the week's lessons or lab subjects. You will edit and upload these for your group to review, and you will review and comment on the snapshots uploaded by others in your group. I am assigning snapshots so that you validate and reinforce what you are learning in class by finding real examples in your day to day world. Allow 1-2 hours. Students in the past noted that finding the subject for the images can take some time so don't blow this off until the last minute.
  • You also need to read the lab manual and textbook assignments for the week. You will be quizzed on these readings in lab. Allow 1/2 hour.

The items above add to roughly 6 hours of weekly work in addition to the class meeting and lab. Study for exams and writing lab reports is extra. Clearly this course represents a major time commitment and requires a regular routine for completing the lectures and assignments.


Your grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows. Things may change a little during the semester (for instance, the number of lab techniques or reports may be modified due to time constraints), but this table will provide you with a good idea of how your grade will be determined.



Number of points



Midterms (3@100 points each)


Final (cumulative)


Lecture quizzes (5 points/week)


Snapshot assignments (5 points/week)




Full lab reports (3@25 points each)


Lab summaries (3@15 points each)


Projects (4@30 points each)


Techniques (7@5 points each)


Quizzes, lab component




Your final grade for the course is based on the number of the points that you accumulate throughout the course.

None of the grades are curved: not the midterms, not the final.

Your total points will be converted to a percentage of the total points possible, and then translated into a final letter grade using the following scale:

92% +









below 60%











If you wish to contest a grade assigned to a question on an exam or to a report, you must do so IN WRITING within 48 hours after the exam or paper has been returned. If the score was not added correctly, please bring that immediately to the attention of Bill (for labs) or Tom (for lecture exams).

If you are not a Horticulture major and elect to take this course PASS/FAIL, to receive a passing grade (S), all exams, reports and projects must be completed and submitted and your accumulated points for the whole course must be at least 70% of the total available points for the whole course.

Late assignments:

Assignments must be submitted by the time noted on the assignment. For lab assignments, the assignment is due at the beginning of the lab. For digital images, the images are due by the beginning of your assigned class meeting time. No assignment that is submitted late will receive full credit. The credit deduction will be determined by the instructors based on the extent and reason for the late submission.

University of Minnesota Policy on Makeup Examinations for Legitimate Absences:

Students should not be penalized for absence due to unavoidable or legitimate circumstances...It is the responsibility of the student to notify faculty members of such circumstances as far in advance as possible. It is the responsibility of faculty members to provide make-ups for major examinations, ordinarily including midterm and final examinations.

University of Minnesota Policy on Scholastic Misconduct:

Scholastic misconduct is broadly defined as "any act that violates the rights of another student in academic work or that involves misrepresentation of your own work." Scholastic dishonesty includes, (but is not necessarily limited to): cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing, which means misrepresenting as your own work any part of work done by another; submitting the same paper, or substantially similar papers, to meet the requirements of more than one course without the approval and consent of all instructors concerned; depriving another student of necessary course materials; or interfering with another student's work.

Remember this is a draft of the course information for the purposes of giving you the best information I can during registration. I'll publish the official version in the Fall.

Here is a copy of last year's weekly topics. The dates will be different for Fall 2011 but the order of the topics and the placement of the exams during the semester will be very similar.

Lecture 1

Plant Propagation

Fall 2010
Schedule for lectures, web reading and exams



On-Line Lecture


This week's class meeting activity


Sep 7-12


Course information and success strategies for this course


Stems - nodes, internodes, apex, axil, buds, rhizomes, stolons

Examine and draw stems and roots


Sep 13-19


Roots - primary, lateral or secondary, root hairs

Leaf structure - blade, petiole, blade


Inflorescence structure and type, patterns of flowering

Examine and draw leaves, inflorescences


Sep 20-26


Recognizing plant parts that we use for food and propagation


Science and experimentation

Edible plant parts identification


Sep 27 - Oct 3


Plant cell and tissue types


Inside roots and shoots

To be determined

Exam I

Oct 5/6/7

Covers lectures 1-8

During your usual class meeting session


Oct 4-10


Vascular system, transpiration


Flower morphology

Exam I


Oct 11-17


Fruit morphology; types of fruits


Seed Morphology

Identifying types of fruits


Oct 18-24


Plant Taxonomy (linking taxonomy to leaf, seed, inflorescence morphology)


Respiration and Seed Germinations



Oct 25 - 31


Meristem morphology (apical, lateral)


DNA, chromosomes and the cell cycle>/div>

Origins of meristem-based chimeras

Exam II

Nov 2/3/4

Covers lectures 9-16

During your normal class meeting session


Nov 1-7




Why graft plants; how wounds heal

Exam II


Nov 8-14


Plant growth in relation to soils and fertility



Soil texture and structure including texture tube


Nov 15-21


Diploidy, haploidy and the alternation of generations



Meiosis Ceili


Nov 22-28


Gametogenesis, fertilization, embryo growth


Inheritance of big differences

Cancelled all days - Thanksgiving break

Exam III

Nov 30/Dec 1/2

Covers lectures 17-24

During your usual class meeting session


Nov 29 - Dec 5


Inheritance of small differences



Exam III


Dec 6-12


Plant geography, diversity, geophytes


Biotechnology or breeding rose and tomato or gymnosperms

Roasting coffee beans

Final Exam

Tues & Thurs classes

Dec 18

10:30am - 12:30pm

Covers lectures 1-28

Room to be announced

Wednesday Dec 22 at 5 pm with permission

Final Exam

Wed class

Dec 22


Covers lectures 1-28

Plant Growth Facility Room 140A (your usual lab)

Saturday Dec 18 10:30am with permission

Scheduling Note:

Revised 7 April 2011

Tom Michaels

April 7, 2010

Updated information for F2010

Thanks for checking out this blog for further information on Hort 1001 - Plant Propagation as offered in F2010.

Last year I put together the post below, and since the format and focus of the course hasn't undergone any major change, I'll just ask that you give last year's post a read. The one change I'll point out is that under "What's the format" I say that the wednesday section has a 5:15 start time. That has changed for F2010...we'll be starting earlier at 5pm instead.

If you have any questions, make sure you contact me. Hope to see you next fall,

Tom Michaels

April 6, 2009

Plant Propagation HORT 1001 Information

This weblog contains information about HORT 1001, Plant Propagation that might be helpful to you as you build your academic schedule for Fall 2009.

Why take this course?
One of the reasons that Plant Propagation (we call it Plant Prop for short) is popular among students is that it satisfies the requirement for a biological science course with lab credit in the Diversified Core Curriculum of the Liberal Education Requirements. In other words, you need a course like this to graduate.

Another reason is that Plant Prop is a challenging, fun and fulfilling, course. If you get a chance, talk to other students who have taken the course. They’ll probably tell you that it’s a lot of work, but worth it.

What will we do?
Plant Prop immerses you in learning the fundamental biological concepts of plant structure, growth and reproduction, and then gives you the opportunity to apply these concepts in the greenhouse to hands-on plant propagation. This course will open up your eyes to see plants in the world around you in ways and in detail that you haven’t seen them before. In addition to understanding the biology of plants better, you will take away with you the knowledge to successfully propagate plants using several different methods, and you will take home and show off the plants you have grown!

What’s the format?
This course is offered for F09 in what is called a hybrid or blended format. It includes both online and face to face components. The lecture content for this course will be delivered primarily on-line through the use of audio, video, text and discussions hosted on WebVista. You MUST have reliable internet access several times each week to access lecture materials and the capacity to listen to downloaded mp3 lecture companion podcasts and watch windows media videos. You MUST have weekly access to a rudimentary digital camera (it doesn't have to be fancy), and the ability to upload to UThink blogs images that clearly and accurately document assigned examples of subjects introduced during the lectures.

You will have a face to face class meeting on each of your scheduled laboratory days for further exploration of the on-line lecture subjects, for quizzes and to hand in homework. Those of you enrolling in a daytime lab will have the class meeting at 11:45am on your lab day. If you enroll in the Wednesday evening lab, then you will have your class meeting at 5:15pm, just before your lab. You need to come to this class meeting. Don’t take this course if you can’t schedule and attend this one class meeting each week.

The labs themselves are, as you might expect, face to face too.

Examples of course content
Here’s a video where I explain more about the course, including the format and assignments. I made the video when I thought I'd be able to host this preview on my WebVista site, so I'll be talking as if you are looking at a mock-up of a WebVista page. Well, that didn't work out and I didn't want to reshoot the vid, so please excuse those references. We will, though, host the course itself on WebVista and will use these UThink blogs for the image assignments.

Here’s an example of a lecture on roots and stems from last Fall, including the mp3 podcast.

Here’s an example of one of the weekly assignments, and a link to the UThink blog from one of last year’s groups showing their work.

Write me at michaels@umn.edu and put Plant Prop in the subject line. I'll also respond to questions and comments you post to this blog.

I look forward to meeting you! Bye for now,

- Tom

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