Gardening Australia - - YOUR PLANNER -

Now that new spring growth has lost its soft­ness, it’s time to take cut­tings of favourite shrubs. Na­tives such as bot­tle­brush, gre­vil­lea, me­laleuca, mint bush and westringia can be prop­a­gated now, as well as ever­green shrubs such as rose­mary (above), hi­bis­cus, gar­de­nia, daphne, buxus and aza­lea.

Cut tip pieces 7–10cm long in the early morn­ing or evening and put in a plas­tic bag. As soon as pos­si­ble, take them to a shady spot and re­move most of the lower leaves. If re­main­ing leaves are large, cut them in half to re­duce mois­ture loss. Fill a small pot with half-and-half sand and coir peat or seed-rais­ing mix, then wa­ter well and al­low to drain.

Use a pen­cil to make ver­ti­cal holes in the mix. Dip the base of each cutting into wa­ter and then into root­ing pow­der or gel or some honey. Shake off any ex­cess then gen­tly push one cutting into each hole, firm­ing to hold it in place. Cut­tings like to be crowded to­gether, so you can put a num­ber into the one pot. Wa­ter them in.

Cover the pot with a clear plas­tic bag – sup­port­ing it with some wire or thin stakes if re­quired – and keep it in a bright, shaded area, wa­ter­ing again when­ever the mix starts to dry out. You now need to be pa­tient, as it can take sev­eral months for the new plant’s roots to form.

By au­tumn, you should be able to feel if the cut­tings are taking hold in the pot. They could be pro­duc­ing new growth, too. When you’re sure that your cut­tings have roots, move them care­fully into in­di­vid­ual pots. By then, the weather should be cooler and your cut­tings will be strong enough to ex­ist on their own. And you will have new plants to add to your gar­den or give away to friends.

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