Taking cuttings is a brilliant way of filling your garden with cheap, new plants.
You won’t need any special equipment, apart from some hormone rooting power or liquid. Taking cuttings and giving your garden a little prune and tidy along the way.
When shall I take cuttings?
Tender perennials are best taken in late summer. Garden favourites such as fuchsia, petunia, Salvia, Verbena, Penstemon, pelargonium, chrysanthemum and Osteospermum all root quickly and easily.
If you’re wanting to take cuttings from your favourite shrub, from June to August is the time when many plants are producing new, fresh shoots so late summer and early autumn will be a good time.
For berry fruit plants, Forsythia and Philadelphus, greenwood cuttings should be taken from late spring to mid-summer.
What do I need?
- Pots for your cuttings
- Coarse horticultural grit
- Hormone rooting powder
- Propagator (or wooden sticks and plastic bags)
What to do with perennial cuttings
First, prepare the pots the cuttings will go into. You’ll need gritty compost, so add coarse horticultural grit to multi-purpose compost. Choose healthy young growth that hasn’t flowered this year.
Cut the stem with sharp secateurs just below a leaf joint to make a cutting 5-10cm long. Strip off the leaves from the lower stem, leaving just one or two pairs on the top. Dip the end in hormone rooting power or liquid and then pop it into the pot, a few centimetres deep. Gently firm in the compost and water well.
Place the pots in a propagator or push wooden coffee sticks into the soil around the cutting and cover with a plastic bag.
Pelargoniums don’t need a propagator. Place somewhere light but not in direct sunlight and ventilate a couple of times a week. After six to ten weeks, when your cuttings have rooted, pot them on to larger containers. Overwinter them in a greenhouse or conservatory, ready for planting out in the spring.
What to do with shrub cuttings
Cuttings from most deciduous shrubs – Hebe, Choisya, hydrangea and Buddleja– root well.
In autumn, take a cutting and prepare the pots. It should be 7-10cm long, from a stem that hasn’t flowered this year. Cut just below a leaf joint and strip off all the leaves except the top pair. Dip the end in the hormone rooting powder and pot up as for tender perennials.
Place the pot in a propagator or cover and keep out of direct sunlight as they root. With a fair breeze you’ll have brand new plants for almost nothing – and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done it all yourself.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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