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Propogation – Producing New Plants For Free

 It’s enjoyable and it saves you money.

 1.Take Cuttings

(a) Softwood Cuttings                                               When: May-August

Examples : Lavender, Forsythia, Fuchsia, Pelargoniums etc. perennials, houseplants

 -Usually taken in spring or summer. (Can be used to propagate tender plants such as bedding plants).

-Take cuttings of about 10cm (4in) in length, cutting below a leaf joint. (Shorter side shoots are taken with a ‘heel’, where the side shoot is pulled down and away from the parent shoot e.g Rosemary and Buddleia).

-Remove the bottom leaves from the lower third of the stem and insert into compost.

-Then place in a propagator (widely and quite cheaply available in garden centres) to get them growing away. You can also try placing the pot into a clear plastic bag to act as a simple propagator.


 (b) Semi-Ripe Cuttings                                             When: July & August

Examples: Argyranthemum, Camellia, Senecio maritima.

 -These are taken in July and August when the plan’s growth is starting to slow down.

-Take cuttings from main stems or use strong, leafy non-flowering side shoots from the main stems. Cutting length should be about10-15cm (4-6in).

-Remove the lower leaves and dip the base in a hormone rooting powder.

-Then insert about 2.5cm (1in) deep into small pots with compost. Either cover with a clear polythene bag or place in a covered propagator to get them rooting.  


 (c) Hardwood Cuttings                                         When: Early Autumn

Examples : Easiest way to make new plants from shrubs and trees

 -In early autumn, choose strong, straight shoots on this year’s growth.

-Cut just above a bud or pair of buds at the junction between the current season’s growth and the previous year’s growth.

-Remove any large leaves and side shoots from the stem and trim the cuttings to about 20cm (8in).

-Make an angled cut just above the top bud and a horizontal cut just below the bottom one.

 -Insert the cuttings into a pot filled with compost and water it in well. Keep out of direct sunlight and with any luck the cuttings should be well rooted and ready for transplanting by the next autumn.


(d) Root Cuttings                                                      When: September-March

(Examples: Chaenomoles, Acanthus, Crambe, Dicentra, Eryngium)

 -Take cuttings anytime between September and March.

-Use a sharp knife to cut off portions of root from the parent plant.

-Slice the roots into sections from 1cm to 7.5cm (0.5in to 3in) in length.

-Place root cuttings on a tray of moist compost and then cover with 1cm (0.5in) of compost.

-Once the shoots have emerged, lift the young plants from the compost and repot to grow them on.

(e) Leaf Cuttings

(Examples:  Part Leaf Cuttings; Begonias, Streptocarpus, Sanseveiria)

 Streptocarpus – cut the leaf in half along the midrib and then insert one half of the leaf, cut side down into damp compost and firm in.

Sansevieria – cut leaves horizontally into 5cm (2in) pieces and insert lower edge down into damp compost.

Begonia – cut across the main veins on the underside. Pin the leaf, cut side down onto the compost. Alternatively, cut the leaf into squares 2.5cm (1in) across each with a main vein. Water and then place in a propagator or a clear plastic bag in a light place out of direct sunlight . ‘Plantlets’ should form which can then be potted on.


2.Division                                                                   When:Early Spring or Autumn

Examples: Many perennials such as Delphinium, Heuchera, Stocks, Asters, Iris, Geraniums

 -In early spring or autumn, lift the plants, taking care not to damage the root ball.

-Divide each plant into several portions by gently pulling them away from the main plant  by using 2 garden forks back to back (Hemerocallis) or splitting with a spade (Hellebores and Asters)

-Dig over the area that you want to put them back into and check over the divided plant for weed seedlings such as ground elder before you replant it.

-Firm in and then water it in well.


3.Layering                                                                  When:Early Spring or Autumn

Examples: Cornus, Magnolia Acer, Camellia, Chaenomeles, Cotinus, Daphne, Forsythia, Hamamelis, Jasminum, Magnolia, Rhododendron (including azalea), Syringa and Viburnum.

 Layering is a way of encouraging part of the plant to grow new roots, rooting it on and then removing the new section from the parent. Its a clone of the old plant.

 -Choose flexible young shoots on the outside of the plant that can be bent over to ground level.

-In either autumn or spring make a 2.5-5cm (1-2in) cut through a leaf node approximately 30cm (12in) from the shoot tip. This will encourage roots to form. Apply hormone rooting powder to the cut.

-Dig a shallow hole, 10-15cm (4-6in) deep and ‘peg’ the section to the ground, using metal pins or wire. Alternatively, sink a small pot containing Seed Compost and peg into that.

-Back fill with soil and firm around it. Water it in.

-After a year or so the layered area should have developed a root system and then can be cut off from the parent plant and transplanted to where its needed.


 4.  Collecting Seeds and Growing them on             When: Once Seeds are Ripe

(Examples; Most Perennials, shrubs, trees)

 -Often the easiest way to make new plants is to collect their seed after they have flowered and set seed.

-Seeds are usually collected only once they are ripe. (Signs of ripeness include splitting and opening of the seedpods and a darkening  in colour of the seeds themselves).

-Choose a dry day for seed collection, so that the seeds do not become damp and either rot off or start to germinate.  

-Many hybridised plants will not come true to type from seed. Unlike with cuttings, where you get an exact clone of the parent plant, seedlings will be genetically different from their parents, and may have totally different flower colours or different levels of vigour.

-Cut off ripe looking seedpods, seed cases, fruits or cones from the parent plant.

-Remove any shrivelled or damaged looking seeds before storing.

-Many seeds are best stored dry, at fridge temperatures in paper bags so that they don’t sweat.   

 Sowing your collected seeds:

-Use specific seed compost for sowing in and water the compost before you sow into it. Sow thinly and not too deeply, roughly 1-2 times the size of the seed.

 -Cover the seed lightly with compost and then cover the seed tray with a piece of glass and a sheet of newpaper until the seeds have germinated.

-Label the seedlings and make a note of the sowing date.

-When the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, carefully prick them out and transplant into a bigger pot.

-After potting on, it is important not to let the compost dry out. A hand held water sprayer can be useful for this.


Keep an eye on your pots, don’t let them dry out

Although all parts of the country will probably get some rain this Easter weekend, it is important to make sure your pots, tubs and hanging baskets are well watered to keep your plants looking good. We have noticed a few casualties this week with wilting pansies in dust dry compost and some struggling conifers so if you get time in the garden this weekend get your watering can out.

Happy Easter

Our Gardening Week – Spring has Sprung! (6th March 2009)

Its been a good gardening week this week for us here in Hertfordshire, although not for everyone in other parts of the country.  The weather has been reasonably kind to us and we have dodged most of the heavy showers. It’s been good to get stuck into some gardening projects and we have just finished planting some new borders in a country garden. The grass is starting to grow as the temperatures have started to rise and its started to throw off it’s winter yellows. The mower came out for the first time this week and the lawns look better for a cut, keeping them sharp and tidy. The scillas in my front garden have just come out, as have my fabulous iris reticulata (what a beaufiful and elegant plant!) and at long last the daffs have started to spring into life. Hooray!  Hooray!  Hooray!

Tips and Tricks for Better Plants and a Better Garden


-Use old tights or odd socks for tree and plant ties as they are nice and soft, flexible and won’t cut into the stem.

-When watering your plants, make sure that you give them a really good drink. Just giving them a short watering encourages the roots to develop closer to the surface of the soil, making the plant less drought tolerant and more susceptible to be rocked by the wind.

 -Water hanging baskets by putting ice cubes on the top. As they melt moisture is slowly released.

-Age new statues by smearing on natural yoghurt

-Banana skins are good for feeding roses. 

-Viagra dissolved in water can stiffen the stems of flowers in vases and stop them flopping. Not totally sure of this one as I have never needed to buy it but I have heard it a couple of times. Not sure how much you need, the more you use the stiffer they get I suppose!

-Stop cut tulips from flopping in a vase by putting a pin through the stem just under the flower.

-Fizzy, sugary drinks can be used as plant feed in vases and alcohol can sterilise the water just like a drop of bleach.



 -Golden rule for planting vegetable seeds, don’t sow too early, too thickly or too deeply.

-Runner beans can be grown as an ornamental climber  – originally they were grown as ornamentals in Victorian times before they were grown for food.

 -Don’t plant cauliflowers in sandy soil or they will fail.

-Brussels Sprouts will fail on loose, infertile soil, so make sure the soil is enriched with well-rotted manure the winter before sowing. Also, ridge up the plants with soil and firm them in. Brassicas also like alkaline soils so lime if necessary the previous winter.

-Plant food-bearing plants when the moon is waxing (increasing to a full moon) and ornamentals when the moon is waning (decreasing).


Pest Control

-Plant some Marigolds around the vegetable garden and they will keep pests away. Companion planting.

-To keep rabbits away from your crops, it was said to plant a row of onions ,chives or garlic. (anything from the allium family).

-Plant garlic and chives among roses to keep greenfly away.

-Methylated spirits can be used to control wooly aphids.

-To prevent slugs getting to plants in containers, smear the outside of the container with Vaseline or WD40 .

 -Ants nests can damage grass roots in lawns so apply ant gel or clove oil in a watering can. Ants don’t like water.


 Planting and Sowing

-When sowing seeds,  use a pencil dipped into water to pick up the seeds and place them onto the growing medium. That way you don’t lose any. Or use a match stick.

-Mix fine seed with sand for ease of sowing. You can also use non-scented talcum powder so you can see them as you are sowing them.


-When planting trees, dig a square hole rather than a round one as it allows the roots to spread out evenly.



-For a better looking lawn, mow it in two different directions. New turf should be mown against the way it is laid to get it to knit in well.



Make an Easter Nest Centrepiece

Have a go at making a simple Easter Nest centrepiece for your Easter breakfast table. Its colourful and fun and you can get the kids involved. Even better you can eat the display. (Easter Sunday is 12th April this year)

Step 1 – Get a plastic seed tray and fill part way with compost

Step 2 – Cover with turf and plant some miniature daffodils, a hyacinth and some colourful primroses through it at one end.

Step 3 – Hard boil some eggs and then colour them with edible food colouring. White eggs take the colour best

Step 4 – Place the eggs on the turf and sprinkle chocolate mini-eggs randomly around them

Adam Gets Poetic – Spring is here !


By Adam Woolcott


Like a feeling you can’t describe, or a smell that defies description or a sound as unique as a sound can be, spring once again ignites me.

 I’m taken back, back to being a child, my anxiety gone, once again I’m free and wild, time has stopped and now I feel as if I can live for ever.

 I’m beguiled and smitten with the magic of spring my happiness is now underwritten. The birds they sing and soon there will be nests to build, and winter’s tortured buds will soon be filled.

 An army of life begins to stir, the daffodil reassures our hearts and new green blades true happiness impart, this is the time, the time to start, a beginning, a reawakening, a debut, a rebirth, a starting afresh, the putting aside of winter’s mess.

 The sky with gentle pinks upon blue, the warm shards of air that will soon become dew, gently strolling in the extra light, days soon longer than the night.

 Like a healing mist that comes from the ground spring is a sight, a taste and a sound. The drying earth forms a crust and ragged grass grows in tufts, frogs croak looking to breed and soon the birds their young they’ll feed.

 This is a time, a time to be alive, bees buzz and hum as they leave the hive, looking for nature’s first splashes of colour and nuts that squirrels hid away begin to germinate in the warmth of the day.

 This amazing time when nature’s still nude is no time to be a prude, the naked branch will soon have it’s cloak, and the towering horse chestnut with blossom will soon be soaked. Once again life makes a start, the warming sun has restarted mine and nature’s heart, so breathe in the air, and take time to stop and stare, oh thank god I’m young again without a care.


Old Gardening Sayings –

These are wise words that my dad, a Kentish farmer, never ceases to come out with;


‘Four seeds in a hole, one for the rook and one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow.’  In otherwords, expect 1 in 4 of your seeds to make it through so it doesn’t matter if you put more than 1 seed in a hole.


‘Well sown half grown.’ Get the seed bed right, sow at the right depth and spacing and you are all but there.


‘Don’t make an April Fool out of a runner bean.’ Dad has always gown runner beans and is affectionately known as the ‘Bean King’, don’t sow too early or frost can decimate the emerging crop (unless under plastic).


‘Rain before 7 fine by 11′. More often than not this is true


‘Wind from the east, good for neither man nor beast ‘. (Or sometimes the ‘Lazy Wind’ as it goes through you and not around you).


‘If May comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion’


‘First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap’ – About climbing roses and Virginia creepers, Also for newly planted trees.


‘Cast not a clout till May be out’ – Don’t’ expect temperatures to warm up before the end of May. Or don’t expect to take your coat off before the May flower (hawthorn) is out.


‘Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade’


‘If the Ash is out before the Oak, we are in for a soak. If the Oak is out before the Ash we are in for a splash.’ This has never worked for me. Last year was a very poor summer but I can’t remember if the oak was in leaf before the ash.


‘St. Swithens day if it doth rain, for 40 days it will remain.’  (15th July). It did probably rain last year on the 15th July as it did for most of July and August


‘Be it dry or be it wet, nature always repays a debt’


‘Dew in the night,
Next day will be bright.

Grey mists at dawn,
The day will be warm

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight
Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning


‘Better the day better the deed’ - This was about the merits of working on a sunday


‘Having your beever’ – This isnt something rude but ‘beever’ time is an 11 O’clock Tea break and my grandad used it a lot. Maybe it comes from having a ‘breather’ or a break I really dont know but its a good saying and I often use it. Not totally sure how its spelt only how it sounds ’I'm off for my beever, won’t be long’.