Want To Create Some New Plants For Your Garden?

     One simple way to provide yourself with more plants for your garden is by propagating cuttings at home.  It’s an easy and cheap method of propagation and can be done successfully by even the novice gardener.  By following a few simple steps you can be on the way to successfully cloning existing plants in your garden.  You will be able to further enhance your existing garden with more plantings of species already established in your garden.  Alternatively if you see an interesting species whilst travelling you can take a cutting to try at home, but always ask first.

      You will need to acquire a few items to stock your mini nursery.  Most of which are available at good garden supply stores, nurseries or hardware shops.  Some items can even be obtained by recycling or visiting your local recycling/resource centre.

SecateursCredit: KoSCredit: KoS

Some Items You Will Need

     Pots.  A supply of smallish pots is essential, 14cm pots are quite suitable and are most frequently used and bought by us, the consumer, at nurseries.  So start collecting up your pots, the more the merrier.  Empty margarine or other type of container are also quite acceptable vessels for your cuttings, just be sure to cut some drainage holes in the bottoms of them.

     Potting mix is next on the agenda.  Available nearly anywhere these days, supermarkets, discount stores as well as garden shops and nurseries usually stock this handy item.  Purchase the best quality mix you can afford.  Quality goes a long way in potting soils, as all mixes are not created equal.  Good potting soil is the best head start you can give your new plants.  Everyday dirt from the garden will work, and can be used if nothing else is at hand.  However optimum results will be gained from the use of a good potting or seed raising mix.  Something that is light, friable and free draining will maximise the strike rate of your cuttings.

Cutting powder or gel, although not a must, is a useful substance to have in your arsenal as it promotes new root growth and can be the difference between success and failure with some “hard to start” plant cuttings.  It comes in small jars and is available at the usual haunts.  Investing in a jar will certainly help in the process of getting your cuttings rooted and turning into your new plants.

     Good quality secateurs or garden snipper’s are another essential item, obviously you have to take those cuttings somehow.  A good set of secateurs will keep you in cuttings for a lifetime if cared for properly.  Grab a bottle of methylated spirit if you don’t already have any at home.  After taking a cutting from one plant give your cutters a wipe with a rag dipped in methylated spirit before going to the next plant.  This will ensure you do not transfer any diseases or bugs between plants.

A watering can is next on the list; these can be sourced fairly easily if you don’t already have one.  Watering with a can is gentler on the plants than with a hose at this stage in their life.  Hose’s have a fair amount of pressure behind them and can easily blow your new cutting out of its pot therefore a watering can is the best option until they are firmly established.

     A few other things such as little twigs, sticks and some freezer bags are also handy items, with these you can build a little tent over your cuttings to help retain moisture and keep them warm whilst they strike.  Old margarine containers also make useful name tags if cut down with a pair of scissors, just cut some labels out of the side of the container and write the details on the inside surface with a permanent marker and pop them in your pot.  Most pots these days have a little slot of two in the rim just for labels such as these.

Pelargonium crispumCredit: KENPEICredit: KENPEI

Time To Get Your Hands Dirty!

     Now to the fun part; taking your cuttings and planting them out.  Find the plant you want to replicate.  If you are unsure of its suitability to this type of propagation engage in a quick internet search and you will usually find the answer.  Pelargoniums are a good choice of plant to begin with; they are hardy and strike easily from cuttings.  They are also a drought friendly, colourful plant and can be found quite easily.  They flower year round and the varieties are almost endless.

     Take a cutting from new growth about ten to twenty centimetres long, cut on a forty five degree angle downward.  Trim the bottom half of your cutting of leaves and shoots.  Take any flowers off the cutting and trim of any excess leaves if the cutting is bushy.  Dip your cutting 1.5cm into your rooting gel or powder and push into your potting mix about five or six centimetres down.  Firm the soil up around your new plant to be and water it in with a watering can.  You can now put a few sticks in opposite sides of the pot and slip a freezer bag over the top if you like.  Remove the bag after about a month and your cutting should be right.

     Remember to keep your cuttings moist at all times, letting the potting mix dry out can be fatal to your new plant.  Keep them in a semi shaded position until they strike properly.  In about two or three months you will have a nicely rooted new version of the plant you took the cutting from, ready to go into your garden.  How easy was that?