Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Go forth and multiply

Getting a garden established is hard work, and - unless you have friends who can help with cuttings or seed from their mature gardens - expensive.

But once you've got a few good plants, multiplying them further is not difficult. Taking cuttings works for many plants; you just have to know when and how.

Grape vines can be propagated by taking bare wood cuttings in autumn, or from green shoots.

Raspberries practically propagate themselves; it's a question of taking the suckers that they produce naturally, and putting them where you want them! Or you can take softwood cuttings in the spring.

Softwood cuttings also work for buddhleia, fuchsia, and maples, while hardwood cuttings will establish new plants of redcurrants, gooseberries, and fig trees.

I've found that while cuttings aren't a 100% reliable method, if you take enough of them, and use hormone rooting powder, together with a good potting soil, you'll get a good few decent plants. If you end up with more than you need, you can always swap for something else!

At this time of year it's also worth thinking about dividing clumps of plants and stands of bulbs. We've managed, over the years, to naturalise some lovely drifts of tulips; in spring, the garden is full of bright pink, dark purple, and the light white and green of 'Spring Green', one of my favourites. I can now dig a few out and spread them around to other areas of the garden. Irisis (technically a rhizome, not a bulb) can also be dug out and divided up - just break them or cut them with a knife to sections of root with a single leaf-spike, and they will grow on quite happily wherever you put them as long as it's not waterlogged.

Sedums can be divided up, indeed should be divided after a few years to keep them healthy. I've done quite well transporting a little more sedum every year to the top of the limestone and flint walls in our garden.

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