Plants for free

Make more of your favourite shrubs and trees for free, by tak­ing hard­wood cut­tings. Carol shows which plants to choose and how to guar­an­tee re­sults

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

Carol shows how to make more of your favourite trees and shrubs

We take so many cut­tings here at Glebe Cot­tage, that somet imes plants are queu­ing up to be prop­a­gated. Once the leaves be­gin to fall from trees and shrubs, it’s time to con­cen­trate on one of the eas­i­est, most laid­back meth­ods of mak­ing new plants for free – hard­wood cut­tings. Don’t let the name per­suade you that this is some­thing compl icated and tech­ni­cal – it sim­ply means cut­tings that you take when the stems have be­come hard and woody. One of the chal­lenges when tak­ing other types of cut­tings is mak­ing sure that they don’t lose so much mois­ture that they shrivel be­fore they have had time to root, while en­sur­ing they’re not so sod­den that they rot. They need to be kept in a moist at­mos­phere, so that they will root rapidly and be­come strong young plants ca­pa­ble of going it alone. With hard­wood cut­tings, taken in late au­tumn or in win­ter, this is never a con­cern be­cause they are taken at or just af­ter leaf fall when they have no leaves to lose mois­ture through – there­fore they dry out much less quickly than cut­tings taken ear­lier in the year. Also, the stems are al­ready so ma­ture they can fend for them­selves and are less sus­cep­ti­ble to rot­ting. You do have to be pa­tient though, be­cause they take months, not weeks, to root and pro­duce new plants. While they may take longer than other types of cut­tings, they are among the most suc­cess­ful cut­tings. What’s more, they get on with it on their own.

Which plants work?

Ide­ally, the shrub or tree that you have planned to take cut­tings from would have been pruned well dur­ing the

The stems are al­ready so ma­ture they can fend for them­selves

pre­vi­ous win­ter or early spring, to help it make vig­or­ous new growth, but this is not es­sen­tial. Al­most any shrub, in­clud­ing fruit bushes, can be prop­a­gated in this way – those that make good strong straight stems will pro­duce the best shaped plants. Black­cur­rants, dog­woods, shrub roses, vibur­num and physo­car­pus are good ex­am­ples, but there is lit­tle to lose by ex­per­i­ment­ing with al­most any­thing. Spireas, for­sythia, hy­drangeas, deutzias and weigela are cer­tainly worth try­ing as are a few large shrub and tree va­ri­eties: el­ders, poplars and wil­lows are the most likely to suc­ceed. How­ever, take care with wil­lows ( Salix va­ri­eties) – if you leave your cut­tings in the ground too long, the wil­low in ques­tion might make it­self com­pletely at home. We re­cently needed a dig­ger to take out a gar­gan­tuan wil­low that grew from a branch that we had ini­tially used as a stake for some long-lost shrub. Although we’d cop­piced the wil­low sev­eral times, or per­haps be­cause we had, it had de­vel­oped huge roots and was grow­ing in the wrong place. Hav­ing said that, you can ex­ploit this ebul l ient be­hav­iour should you want to cre­ate a wil­low arch or tun­nel. If you’re tak­ing wil­low cut­tings, make sure, unlike me, that you think it through first – once it’s there, it’s likely to stay.

I be­lieve we should grow more na­tive hedges, not just in ru­ral gar­dens, but in towns and cities too. They are fan­tas­tic for all man­ner of wildlife, even if they are just a short run. And tak­ing hard­wood cut­tings is a great way to make one vir­tu­ally for free, en­abling you to in­clude a wide as­sort­ment of shrubs and climbers. Raid your own plants for suit­able cut­tings ma­te­ri­als, but you could also ask friends and neigh­bours. Take long stems from plants such as wil­low, vibur­num and cor­nus, then, as soon as you get them home, cut them into shorter lengths (see above for de­tails) and plunge them into the ground, spaced 45cm apart, in a zigzag pat­tern. Most of th­ese could be left in situ to grow into your hedge. Once they are well rooted, you can lift some of the plants to make way for oth­ers that can’t be grown from cut­tings but which would en­rich the mix. You of­ten come across self­sown seedlings of hawthorn, hazel, beech and even oak, which could all be in­cor­po­rated, or you can try grow­ing them from berries, nuts and acorns. While you’re at it, why not try tak­ing

Raid your own plants for suit­able cut­tings ma­te­ri­als, but you could also ask friends and neigh­bours

hard­wood cut­tings of a few climbers? Honey­suckle roots well and, to dec­o­rate fences and walls, or­na­men­tal climbers such as vines, jas­mine and Vir­ginia creeper ( Partheno­cis­sus quin­que­fo­lia) and roses make suc­cess­ful can­di­dates. The down­side to hard­wood cut­tings, of course, is that they take a long time to root, and so they oc­cupy space in the ground for a long time. It may be that you don’t have enough room to grow all the cut­tings you want. Or per­haps you’re plan­ning on mov­ing house and want to take some of your favourite plants with you? In such cases, hard­wood cut­tings can eas­ily be reared in pots. Al­ways use deep pots and loam-based ( John Innes) com­post with plenty of grit added that will both pro­vide nu­tri­ents and en­sure sharp drainage. They may need sep­a­rat­ing and pot­ting on sooner than their fel­low cut­tings in the ground, but if you give them plenty of room or even a pot to them­selves, there should be few prob­lems when it’s time to trans­fer them. Tak­ing hard­wood cut­tings is easy, straight­for­ward and re­ward­ing. The only skill you need to master is that of pa­tience, but the ex­cite­ment of see­ing your cut­tings come into leaf in the spring and know­ing that new, strong roots are form­ing, makes the wait com­pletely worth­while.

Tak­ing cut­tings now is the eas­i­est way to raise new plants

Put cut­tings in pots to give to friends, or take with you if you’re mov­ing house

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.