Behind the Fence

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Propagate with Cuttings

Mid-September is the time of year I favor to take most of my cuttings. The weather is cooler but not too cold, giving the cuttings a better chance of survival. Cuttings are a great way to increase one’s plants as well as preserving favorites. This past week I took cuttings for the popular Peggy Martin Rose (which I have promised to friends and blog followers), Knock Out Roses to finish the beds around my house, Butterfly Bush for my neighbor, and scented geraniums to winter over.

Googling propagation from cuttings, you will find several methods, I will share the one that has worked best form me.

I often have mother plants from which I take cuttings. These are usually kept in the back of the potager for propagation purposes.

I take a 3-4 inch mature but green stem from the plant making sure to have a few knots from which the roots will grow. I strip the bottom leaves and pinch of any buds (flowering will zap the energy from the root formation.) I place the stems in a container of water.

The rooting medium I use is Pro Mix to which I add polymer crystals such as Soil Moist and water. I put the rooting medium into clean pots. (When reusing pots, I wash them in soapy water with 1:10 household bleach and water to kill any bacteria.) I take the end of a pencil or maybe a garden spoon and make a hole in the potted medium.
Next I take a cutting from the container of water, dip it into a rooting hormone, shake off excess, put it in the hole and gently pat the rooting medium around it. I keep the new cuttings in a sheltered area out of direct sun until they form roots, also known as striking.
When the temperature starts to drop near freezing I put the cuttings in the greenhouse or in the basement windows. I usually don’t fertilize until I can feel resistance with a gentle tug and know there are roots. I start with a very weak liquid fertilize, as to not burn the young roots, about every 2 weeks. Around the first of January I will either repot into Pro Mix with which I have added Soil Moist and Osmocote (a time released fertilizer) or I will start using full strength liquid fertilizer once a month.

In the spring I have a number of healthy plants ready to place in the garden or share. Below are just a few that I started with cuttings.



This Peggy Martin Rose covering the carport was taken from the rose on the arbor about three years ago

I like Plant Propagation A to Z by Geoff Bryant for reference. The book explains the best method for propagation for individual plants, the best time to take cuttings or plant seeds as well as the average length of time for striking.

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