Cutting edge plant propagation

Stonehouse Gardening Club members try their hand at propagating hardy nursery stock using a scalpel type knife, Felco secateurs, and compost which is half and half peat and perlite.

Stonehouse Gardening Club members spent a happy Wednesday evening learning how to easily and efficiently propagate plants from cuttings . Andy Pedrick held a workshop in March in which he shared tricks from the world of commercial gardening. Top tips on quick and dirty plant propagation from cuttings:

  1. Small cutting size: instead of having an 8” cutting as recommended by the RHS, for instance, have small cuttings, as they lose less water. Commercial cuttings are usually 6cm, and are very successful. The main reason for cuttings not taking is that they lose water, so don’t have a big leaf area. In fact, if your cutting has big leaf size, snip off half of each leaf.
  2. Wounds become flourishing roots: when propagating conifers, hold the cutting in your left hand and strip off most of the lower needles in one move. This gives the cutting several ‘wounds’ where it will throw out roots. If you have hebe cuttings, or Seneca or pyracantha, take off the top of your cutting, as well as the lower 2-3 leaves, and then ‘skin’ the stem about 3cm by peeling off a length to expose the cambium layer, and this is where the cutting will root.
  3. Potting up: Lightly dip your prepared cutting in rooting powder if you like, and then pot up. Do not press the compost down. Just tap the pot to let it settle.
  4. No fuss but lots of gain: flowers on your cutting, or damaged or diseased bits? Simply snip them off. Your cutting will still be successful.

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