What’s the best way for us to increase our Garden Stock
We all know how much fun it can be to visit a local garden nursery or garden center. They are always packed to the hilt with plants of all descriptions. From colorful annuals, biennials, perennials, through to garden shrubs, you will find an incredible array of new plants available to plant in your garden
Maybe you’re just started on your gardening journey and are finding it a bit expensive to develop your plot this way. There is an alternative.
How To Propagate Plant Cuttings.
I have grown many new plants over the years from cuttings ,seeds, divisions or bulbs. Maybe you’re fortunate, like I was, and you have heaps of gardening friends or relatives that are happy for you to harvest cuttings from there garden, or gather seed from there beautiful annuals. They might even let you divide some of their plants and give you any spare bulbs they have available.
I will be writing a series of articles discussing the four main types of propagation available, these are the ones that I mentioned above, seed ,cuttings, divisions and bulbs. There are other ways that you can multiply your plant stock, such as cloning, but they are far more difficult for the beginner gardener, or for that matter experienced gardeners to undertake.
I will also be mentioning some easy to grow plants that are readily grown from cuttings.
Part 1: Growing Plants From Cuttings.
There are four main types of cuttings you can take and it depends on the growth habits and the variety of the plant, along with the time of year, on which one you should try. These are Hardwood cuttings, Semi Hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings and semi soft wood cuttings. As this blog is mainly aimed at the beginner gardener we will only be looking at the two main types, hardwood and soft wood.
What Gardening Tools and Equipment will I Need.
1). A sharp pair of secateurs.
2). A Sharp garden knife.
3). 140mm Plastic pots.
4). Rubber Bands.
5). Some Newspaper.
6). Maybe a bucket the carry the material in.
7). Access to a work bench.
9). A Good quality cutting mix.
10). 400mm long (16inch) thin sticks or something similiar.
11) Tie wire or string.
10). Honey or a rooting hormone powder.
The secateurs and knife should be cleaned in a strong bleach mix. I like to leave them in a 20 the 1 mix for at least ten minutes. This should hopefully kill off any adverse pathogens that might affect the healthy growth of you will plants.
A). Hard wood cuttings.
Winter is an ideal time to start taking your hardwood cuttings. These cuttings are mostly taken from deciduous plants that lose their leaves at this time of year. Because the plants are dormant during winter, the cuttings are less likely to dry out. The mere fact that they are dormant means that they will have enough energy in their stems to help them survive for up to six months.
Shrubs and climbers are far more likely to be grown using this method then trees, as trees will need to be able to develop a much stronger root system. Hence, trees are mostly grown from seed or grafting onto a specific root stock.
How Do I take Cuttings:
For most varieties of plants you will need to take cuttings that are about 5 the 8 inches in length (100 the 185mm), while the plant is completely dormant and without any leaves.
Take the top cut just above a node, this is a bud that eventually develops into new leaves. The bottom cut should be done just below a node. Make sure that you keep the cuttings you will have taken the right way up, maybe mark the bottom ends with a permanent pen. If you plant these cuttings the wrong way they won’t survive.
It will depend on how many plants you are after as to how many cuttings you will take. I would take twice as many as you think will be necessary. This way you can allow for any loses.
Hopefully you will have purchased some seed and cutting medium from your local garden center. This mixture should be of good quality, airy, and made from components such as river sand, peat or coir and perlite. I will be completing an article on making your own mixes some time in the future, but for now it would be simpler just to purchase a bag of top quality mix.
Find an old plastic pot, a 140mm squat pot would be ideal but you can really use any size available that you might have laying around. Fill the pot with the potting mix you purchased and, using a thin pencil or stick, push some holes into the soil.
I like to dip my cuttings into some honey. Honey is known to have anti bacterial properties that not only slow down any potential rot but can actually enhance root growth. If you’re not convinced this will work you can purchase a rooting powder from any gardening center.
Place your cuttings gently into the holes you will have made and, again gently, squeeze the soil around each stem. Don’t over crowd the container, I would limit it to about a dozen cuttings per pot. You can then water the them in thoroughly and place them either in a hothouse or greenhouse.
What if I don’t have a Hot House?
In many areas of the world it is totally unnecessary to have a hothouse. In these places it’s more common the see greenhouses utilized. However, not everyone can afford a hothouse or greenhouse, so what can you do?
There’s a very simple trick that I have always used and has been very successful for me.
Find three straight thin sticks, bamboo or thick wire and one plastic bag, the transparent thin ones that are used in shopping centers are ideal, if you can still get them. what ever you choose to use it should be about 16 inches (400mms) in length. Carefully place them evenly spaced (in a triangular fashion) on the edge of the inside of the pot.
Make sure you push them completely to the bottom of the pot. Then pull them to the center and tie together with string. place the bag over the sticks and around the pot. Put a thick, strong elastic (rubber) band around the bag on the pot. Place the pot or pots in a dry safe area where they will get plenty of light but not to much direct sunshine.
You will now be able the check the pot every few weeks to make sure that there is enough moisture happening. After your initial watering you probably won’t have to add any more until the plants are shooting leaves. However, it’s best to check and not let them dry out.
Once the leaves start to shoot, remove the bag and also remove any dead cuttings. Leave the cuttings another month or so, then you can carefully dig one out and check if it has roots.
You Now Have Plenty of New Plants.
When the plants show signs of roots you can move them into individual pots. These can then be planted out after about 2 months.
Some ideal Hardwood plants For Propagating Material Are:
3. Rose of Sharon.
7. Buddleia. These gorgeous plants come in many colors. >>>>
There are many, many more plants available that you can use for hardwood cuttings , but I listed the above as an example of ones that aren’t that difficult.
B). Soft wood cuttings.
It is best to take these cuttings during spring and early summer in most regions. However, because I live in a sub tropical climate, I have had lots of success from those I have taken all year round. Soft wood cuttings are best taken early in the morning , this way you can prevent water loss in the stems.
Cut off approximately 10 cms(4 inches) from the tip of the shoots on the plant or tree you will are using. These cuttings can wilt fairly quickly so I like to remove the majority of the leaves on the stem and only leave one or two at the tip. Even those leaves, if they are fairly large, should be cut in half. I find it is easier to do this on a work bench using a sharp knife.
Place the leaf carefully on the bench and cut across it removing half to three quarters of the material. The bigger the leaf the more you can remove.
When taking these cuttings you should place each one on a damp piece of newspaper or in a plastic zip lock bag and place in the shade while you complete cutting the remainder.
Soft wood cuttings usually take about three the four weeks to develop roots and are normally ready to transplant after about five weeks. These cuttings can then be replanted into individual pots, much the same as hardwood ones, or planted straight out into the garden. If you have taken the cuttings late in the season I would leave them in the container until the next spring.
Every other step to take with this style of cutting is the same as for the hardwood ones.
Some ideal Softwood Plants the Use Are:
5). Rosemary. This is a very easy plant to grow fro tip cuttings. >>
6). Perennial Basil.
So There You Have It:
Hopefully I have given you enough information to start you of on the wonderful world of plant propagation. Why not give it a go. You will be amazed at the feelings of excitement and accomplishment you can receive from growing your own plants for the garden. You may even grow enough to give to friends or neighbors.
In this article I have only just touched on the topic of propagation. There are many other ways to grow plants, I will be looking at some of these in future blogs.
Happy Gardening. Jim
Should you will want more information on taking cuttings to develop new plants, please just ask. You can leave a comment in the box below or on our “Contact Us” page at the top of the website.