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Cut the cost of buying new plants and increase your plants by taking cuttings

How to take plant cuttings

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Increasing plants by cuttings
Many plants can be increased from stem cuttings, which can be of softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood.

Softwood cuttings are immature shoot tips, and used for pelargoniums, chrysanthemums and many perennials.

Semi-hardwood cuttings are firmer than those of softwood and less mature than hardwood cuttings and are suitable for most evergreens, heathers and conifers.

As the name suggests, hardwood cuttings are hard, woody sections of vigorous stems that have just completed their first season’s growth, and are generally used to increase deciduous trees and shrubs.

SOFTWOOD CUTTINGS
Take Softwood cuttings early in the year while growth is still young and soft.
Take 2-3in long sections from the tips of the stems of shrubs and alpines, or young growth from the base of perennials.
Carefully remove any lower leaves which would be buried and rot, and then cut cleanly across the stem, just below a leaf joint, with a sharp knife.
Soak the cuttings in benomyl, a chemical fungicide, before inserting them in pots or boxes of seed compost (equal parts by volume of sand and peat).
Firm them in and water gently.
Keep at a temperature of about 13°C (55°F) and shade them from direct sunlight.
If you use a heated propagator keep the top on and the ventilators closed.
Stand the pots on a shady windowsill, cover with a plastic bag, but make sure hat the bag is not in contact with the cuttings.
Keep the compost and foliage moist, but not wet.

SEMI-HARDWOOD CUTTINGS
are taken in mid to late summer.
Cut them 3-4in long, just below a node – a stem joint from where leaves, buds and side shoots arise, and remove the lower leaves.
Cuttings of heathers need to be only 1-2in long.
Root them in a mixture of half peat and half sand in a cold frame.

HARDWOOD CUTTINGS
are taken in late autumn or early winter.
Select shoots from the current year’s growth, which should feel woody to the touch and are about the thickness of a pencil.
Cut pieces 8-9in long, straight across just above a bud at the top, and at an angle just below a bud at the bottom.
By this means you can distinguish top and bottom of the cutting and also have a leading bud when growth begins.
Dig a V-shaped trench about 5in deep in a well-drained, sheltered position in the garden and put a layer of sand in the bottom.
Stand the cuttings on the sand so that the lower half or two-thirds is below ground, and they lie about 2-3i apart.
Replace the soil and firm with your feet.
The cuttings will be ready for lifting and replanting in about a year’s time.

LEAF-BUD CUTTINGS
consist of a leaf and a short section of stem with a healthy bud in the angle between the leaf and the stem.
They are particularly suitable for propagating camellias and some clematis.
In the late summer, take cuttings from semi-hardwood stems.
Make one cut just above a bud in a leaf axil and the other about ¾ - 1 ½ in below the bud.
Dip the lower end of the cuttings in hormone rooting powder and insert them in a pot filled with gritty compost.
Each bud should just make contact with the compost.
Keep the cuttings at 16-18°C (61-64°F) and protect from the sun.

The following types of cutting are planted in the same way:

HEEL CUTTING – A hardwood or semi-hardwood cutting which retains a small part of the main stem or bark.

NODAL CUTTING – A stem cutting taken immediately below a node (bud point).

INTERNODAL CUTTING – A stem cutting severed between two nodes or buds.

BASAL CUTTING – A non-flowering shoot taken from the base of the plant or at just below ground level.

ROOT CUTTINGS – Plants which have thick, fleshy or wiry roots, such as dicentras, oriental poppies, romneyas, phloxes, verbascums and hollyhocks, can be propagated by root cuttings, from autumn to early spring.
You can either lift the plants and take off some of the roots, or dig down and remove a length of root.
Take pieces about the thickness of a pencil and cut them into 2-3in lengths, making a straight cut at the top and a slanted one at the bottom (to distinguish which end is which).
Insert the cuttings, slant end first, into pots of John Innes seed compost with the tops level with the compost. For thinner roots, take slightly longer lengths – about 3in.
Lay them flat on the compost.
Cover both types of cuttings with ¼ - ½ in of sand and overwinter in a cold frame.
When the cuttings have rooted and show three to four pairs of leaves, pot them up singly, then plant them out in autumn.

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