GROW NEW PLANTS FROM CUTTINGS
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.