Make more from what you have
Gardening happiness can take on many forms, but the purest joy is to see new roots on cuttings or fresh growth sprouting from divided perennials.
Taking softwood cuttings
When you propagate plants from cuttings, you will have new plants that will be identical to the mother plant.
- Rooting medium – the commercial ‘seedling mix’ is perfect, or you can mix potting soil with washed, coarse river sand, or add in vermiculite or perlite to get a light medium that will hold moisture without becoming water-logged.
- Hormone powder – available from nurseries.
- A container with drainage holes at the bottom.
- An old pencil or stick.
- Sharp, clean secateurs.
1.Cut off sturdy stems about 8 – 12cm long. Cut them off below an ‘eye’ (the slightly swollen part or node from where new growth sprouts).
2.Pull off any buds or open flowers on the cutting and then remove all of the bottom leaves, leaving only a few at the top.
3.Place your cuttings in a jar of clean water as you prepare them, to stop them from wilting.
4.Pour a little of the rooting hormone powder into a shallow, clean dish (the cleaned lid of an old jam jar works perfectly).
5.Fill up a container with the rooting medium and press it down lightly. The rooting medium should be moist.
6.Dip each cutting into the hormone powder, shake off the excess, and use your old pencil or stick to poke a hole in the soil medium. Push the cutting gently into the soil, taking care to cover about half to two thirds of it with the soil and press down lightly around it with your fingers.
7.Water the planted cuttings lightly with a watering can and place in a warm, lightly shaded but sheltered spot.