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Fill up your garden with free plants

Even experienced gardeners tell me they’re unsure about taking cuttings. But this brilliant way of boosting your garden with cheap, new plants really couldn’t be easier. And you don’t need special equipment, bar some hormone rooting powder.

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. 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 really 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.

Cuttings from most deciduous shrubs – hebe, choisya, lavender, hydrangea, rosemary and philadelphus – root well. Prepare the pots but this time take a cutting in early autumn. 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.

Again, place 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.


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