Complete Guide to Propagating Plants
Plant propagation has always been a popular pastime for experienced gardeners. The process itself aims to create new plants from cuttings. This technique is often used to increase the number of existing plants or to produce a new plant from existing stock which may be difficult to obtain. It is an inexpensive and relatively simply way to reproduce in an asexual way, new plants that are identical to the host plant from a genetic standpoint.
Whatever the reasons behind the rationale, the time honoured process is a valuable option in the arsenal of techniques used by gardeners.
Some examples of plants that are easy to propagate include perennials such as Begonia’s, Carnations, Geraniums as well as Ivy, Jasmine and Willow to mention just a few.
The fact is that cuttings can actually be taken from almost any part of a plant as every cell of a plant is capable of duplicating all the parts and functions of the plant itself. However In terms of the types of cuttings, typically stem cuttings are the most frequently used method. The key is to use a healthy stem which is bereft of flower buds and disease. Another useful tip is to take the cuttings from a young stock if possible, as its been shown that cuttings from younger plants tend to root quicker and easier than older plants. In terms of the best time to take cuttings, generally most professional gardeners would suggest Spring and into early Summer as the best times.
How to propagate – The process itself
Step 1 – Cut a 4 to 5 inch stem from the main plant
When cutting, try to cut at a 45 degree angle, as this will increase the overall surface area of the potential rooting area. Use a sharp knife such as a scalpel as this will minimise and damage and create a clean cut. Once you have the cutting, remove the bottom set of leaves if there are any, as often this is where new roots will develop.
Step 2 – Dip the cutting in rooting hormone / Gel
Use rooting hormone to stimulate the growth of roots as its name implies. Rooting hormone is essentially a compound which is either in liquid or powder form, which is full of growth hormones and sometimes a fungicide. Rooting hormone can be purchased from most reputable garden centres.
Step 3 – Place the cutting into a container to stimulate the growth of roots
The ideal container filling is about 3 inches of builders sand which is moist, combined with vermiculite (A mineral used for insulation and its moisture retention properties). Ensure that the container has suitable drainage.
Step 4 – Place the container with the cutting into a plastic bag.
This protects the cutting but you must ensure that the bag doesn’t touch the cutting, so prop the bag up with twigs etc and ensure its sealed to prevent water loss, although it is a good idea to open the bag up on occasion to introduce some fresh air.
Step 4 – Put the container in a location that gets indirect sunlight
This is to help stimulate growth. After about 6-8 weeks the cuttings should be well rooted. Its at this point that you will need to separate them and place the individual plants into their own containers / pots. Its then time to acclimatise them over a period of time by exposing them gradually to more and more light. This process also hardens them for planting outside in their permanent location.
Step 5 – Plant outside
Once the plants have become fully hardened and acclimatised, its then time to transfer them out into the garden.
The propagation steps outlined above will enable you to increase your existing stock of plants as well as introduce new ones, in an inexpensive and simple way.