It’s almost the end of summer but it’s still a good time to take garden cuttings to create new plants. While you can take cuttings right throughout the year, there are preferred times and ways to do this to make sure you end up with healthy, happy new plants. Right now, is a good time to take semi-ripe cuttings. This means the base is hard and the tip is soft of your cuttings. A small selection of examples of the plants that you could take such cuttings from at this time include: Evergreen shrubs, Boxwood (Buxus), Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Coleus ( Soenostemon), Cherry Laurel (Lauraceae), Bay (Laurus nobilis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Viburnum (Viburnum), Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), Geranium (Pelagonium spp.), Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica), Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis); Gardenia (Gardenia spp.), Ivy (Hedera) , Mock Orange (Philadelphus) and Star Jasmin (Trachelospermum).
When obtaining cuttings, most are taken from the stem just below a node. These joints in a ‘nodal cutting’ hold a lot of vascular tissue and so the formation of roots is far more likely. Other methods include ‘heal cutting’ which involves pulling away side shoots so that some of the bark from the main stem comes away with it, ‘wounding’ a cutting by scraping away a section of the bark to expose the inner tissue and ‘callusing’ which is also a form of wounding in which a callus is encouraged to form from a scraped stem.
To help your baby cutting along, you can apply a root hormone. There are commercial preparations out there but I’m a fan of organic homemade so here are a couple of my recipes: Add one generous tablespoon of organic honey to 2 cups of boiling water and stir well. Once it drops to room temperature it is ready. Dip cutting end into the mixture and then plant in a seed and cutting soil raising mix. Another recipe I have not tried as yet involves boiling 1.5 litres of water and then once cooled adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Use the same way as the honey mixture. I have also tried dipping hardwood cuttings into Vegemite and had success as well. As strange as it sounds it’s probably the Vit B boost that creates the magic!
Cutting and Seed Raising Mediums
Many cuttings can be started in a clear jar of water that sits in filtered light and seeds can be put straight into ordinary garden soil or a potting mix but planting straight into a speciality cutting and seed raising medium gives most plants the best beginning and makes transplanting into your garden or larger pots easier down the track. Propagation mixes need to provide aeration, excellent drainage, and support. Although bagged commercial mixtures can be purchased, a good example of a homemade mix is: 2 parts coir peat, 2 parts compost and 1 part course river sand.
Australian Native Cuttings
For these beauties, you will find good results using a propagation sand but propagation soil mixed in with additional propagation sand will help. The aim is to have a well aerated medium. Take the cuttings as outlined above but be prepared to wait a little longer for growth to occur. You need to select plants that are in their growth period, not dormant for cuttings to be successful. There are so many that fit this category but three worth noting are any of the Dwarf Gums, Native Frangipani (Hymenopsporum flavum), Ivory Curl Tree (Buckinghamia celsissima). My advice? Go out into the garden and if it is happily enjoying new growth now, it is fit for cutting! An extra tip: if the stem bends to 60 degrees easily and springs back quickly, then it is ready to become your cutting.
Rachel Okell from Our Green Sanctuary, a local home garden and plant styling expert shares with us her method to successful houseplant cutting propagation. “The first thing that you want to do is to choose your healthiest plants to take cuttings from”, Rachel adds that we need to make sure these plants are not affected by pests or diseases. Secondly, ensure that tools are clean and sharp. She suggests using secateurs or garden snips. “They must be clean to avoid contamination of plants with disease or bacteria.” When planning to propagate, be aware that not all plants are suitable candidates to take cuttings from. Check individual species with an in-depth gardening book that includes propagation tips or ask your local nursery. I highly recommended the book ‘Making More Plants’ by Ken Druse for not only cutting advice but all forms of propagation information. Rachel then suggests that your cutting be no more than 10cm in length and that at least one node is present. This will be a slightly raised bump on the stem and it is where the roots will form. For the best result, no more than three leaves must remain on the cutting. “You want the cutting to direct as much energy as possible to forming roots, not sustaining leaves.” Pop the cutting into either water or damp perlite or sphagnum moss. If using water, only have one cutting in each vessel and change water weekly. You should see roots form in 2 to 4 weeks. Rachel shares that houseplant cuttings are best taken during active growing periods and these are found outside of the winter months. For more great houseplant tips and local advice from Rachel: ourgreensanctuary.com
Vertical Succulent Garden Workshop, Buff Point 1 – 2:30pm Sunday 12th or 19th February
Learn to make your own succulent vertical garden to hang on the wall or give to someone special. $89 includes the planter and all the succulents you will need to make your succulent picture. Jenny has exhibited her succulent vertical gardens at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. She will guide you to create something beautiful. To Book: artofsucculents.com/book-online
Free Wicking Bed Workshop (online) 6:30pm Wednesday 22 February
Asa part of the National Sustainability Join Adam Grubb from Very Edible Gardens for an informative hour while learning how wicking beds work, if they are right for you, how to make them, and how to look after them for super veggie abundance. Book now: veryediblegardens.com.au/events/
Woy Woy Produce Swap 10 – 11am 26th February, Woy Woy Peninsula Community Garden. 85 -87 Moana Street Woy Woy. It is a very casual affair and nobody keeps score. By bringing your produce you are saying that you are happy for other swappers to take what they need because it is excess to your needs. It is simply a way of sharing the food you have grown with the fellow growers in your neighbourhood and a great way to meet local gardeners.
Late Summer temperate Australia - This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower
Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below:
Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play Coastfm96.3’
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]