Prop­a­gat­ing not too dif­fi­cult


One of the great things about na­ture is its will­ing­ness to grow and now is just the right time for sow­ing seeds and tak­ing cut­tings.

You can use any con­tain­ers you have on hand, make drainage holes in them and fill them with a home­made sandy mix or com­mer­cial seed-rais­ing mix in readi­ness for your bounty.

Us­ing a sharp pair of se­ca­teurs snip off semi-ripe tips of plants, shrubs or trees about 10 to 15 cen­time­tres long. Then col­lect wil­low twigs to make a hor­mone tea or you can use a store-bought hor­mone pow­der in­stead.

To make a wil­low brew, strip the leaves from fresh wil­low twigs and chop into smaller pieces be­fore putting a few hand­fuls into a bowl or bucket of water. Once left for a while, the water will turn green and the root­ing hor­mone will be avail­able to make use of.

Once you have your pots filled with a suit­able medium, use a dib­ble or stick to make a rea­son­able sized hole for your cut­ting.

Trim each cut­ting on an an­gle be­neath a grow­ing node, re­move all but two or three leaves at its tip, scrape a lit­tle of the outer skin off at the base to en­cour­age root growth, dip into the wil­low tea and firm into the hole. If the re­main­ing leaves are large, trim each leaf in half to min­imise mois­ture loss as the cut­ting fo­cuses on sprout­ing roots.

Gen­tly water your cut­tings and set aside some­where semi-shady and keep damp for a few weeks un­til they are ready to pot on. Take plenty of cut­tings be­cause they won’t all make it. You will know when they are ready to re­pot be­cause new leaves will be­gin to ap­pear on the shoots. Also, the cut­ting will have a firm­ness about it in the soil, when gen­tly wig­gled.

If you sus­pect root growth, care­fully dig a cut­ting out and have a look, if there are roots, then the rest should be ready to go too.

Roses will need a year to es­tab­lish them­selves as new plants, so cut­tings put in this au­tumn will be ready to plant out next au­tumn when the weather is once again cooler and wet­ter, just right for plant­ing.

To give cut­tings a help­ing hand, a large jar or plas­tic bag cov­er­ing them will pro­vide a mi­croen­vi­ron­ment that will help keep them warm and moist. This needs to be re­moved once the plant get grow­ing so there is enough ven­ti­la­tion and fresh air to en­cour­age the plant to grow strong.

Many gar­den plants can be grown from cut­tings in­clud­ing fruit trees and shrubs.

Herbs are also ideal for prop­a­gat­ing this way, in­clud­ing rose­mary, laven­der, thyme, lemon balm and all the mints, bay and many oth­ers. Herbs like thyme, sage, rose­mary and win­ter savory can also be prop­a­gated by lay­er­ing, that is hav­ing a stem bent down to ground level, parts of it cov­ered in soil and pegged down. The parts of the stem be­neath the soil will grow roots and can then be cut free from the par­ent plant and pot­ted up or planted else­where in the gar­den.

Di­vi­sion is an­other way to cre­ate more plants. In the cooler months when cer­tain peren­ni­als and many herbs die away above ground, they can be dug up with a fork and care­fully sep­a­rated into smaller parts and re­planted. This is best to do in au­tumn, win­ter or early spring.

One buxus grower I spoke with in­creased his amount of this plant which he used ex­ten­sively for bor­der­ing his neat vegetable and peren­nial beds by a sim­ple tech­nique called mound lay­er­ing. He took an es­tab­lished spec­i­men and dug a hole, planted it deep and cov­ered all but the tips with soil (you can just bury the lower stems too). Some months later, he dug the plant up and voila, he had a mul­ti­tude of rooted branches to snip off and pot up.

If you’ve got the pa­tience, there is a lot of money to be saved by prop­a­gat­ing your own plants and it’s a great way to share with oth­ers too.


Ready to shoot: Fig and rose cut­tings primed to set roots and hope­fully grow into new plants.

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