The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Tickled pink on the cuttings edge

Now’s the time to prune for summer, so why not use the offcuts to propagate – it’s easier than you think

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YOU don’t have to be a particular­ly adept gardener to grow cuttings.

Be prepared to be shocked at how easy it is to propagate some of our most popular garden plants.

Frangipani, the pink shaving brush tree (Pseudobomb­ax ellipticum), dracaena, cordyline, angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia arborea), yucca, agave and other succulent species, such as aloes and tree-like cactuses, can be propagated from large, instant cuttings pruned from mature plants.

Spring and early summer are the ideal time to experiment with this technique. Gardeners in the tropics are already planning to begin cutting back excess growth before the summer wet season. Elsewhere, warmer spring temperatur­es ensure fast regrowth.

These plants can be cut up with a pruning saw, or even an old carving knife, and grown from metre-long cuttings. Plants that weep a sticky sap are best left to dry out for a few days or weeks. Place them in a shady spot until you’re ready to plant them.

When pruning, make shaping your priority, rather than the selection of cutting material. Cut plants back to points of the stem where a side branch exists, and shorten longer stems to achieve a rounded shape. With a little fertiliser and water, the pruned plants generally grow back bigger and better, with branched, bushy heads and an improved appearance.

Remove the foliage from the lower two thirds of the stem. Stick a piece of masking tape along the length of the stem and draw an arrow on it to indicate which way is up.

Each spring Dracaena Farm Nursery in Beachmere will prune the common yucca plant (Yucca elephantip­es), variegated yucca (Yucca ‘Silver Star’), and the happy plant (Dracaena massangean­a) for free.

Your plants need to be at least 2m tall, multi-headed and bushy.

The nursery will also mulch and fertilise your plants. You will be offered $1 per metre for the offcuts or can opt to donate this to school gardening projects. For more informatio­n, email: dracaena_farm@bigpond.com

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