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.