Planting Methods And Plant Material. Part 2

By: Gambo Navi

A cutting is a small piece removed from a plant which, with proper handling may be induced to create roots and grow into a specimen which is identical to your parent plant. You cannot guess the perfect sort of cutting to take nor the best time to propagate a specimen which is identical to your parent plant. There is, however, a couple of general rules. Plant the cutting as soon as possible after cutting it from the parent plant and make sure that the compost is in close contact with the inserted part. Do not keep pulling at the cutting to see if it's rooted - the appearance of new growth is the best guide.

Softwood cuttings:
They are green at the top as well as the base, and are taken from early spring to midsummer. Many hardy perennials and some small shrubs are propagated in this way. Basal cuttings are shoots formed at the base of your plant and pulled away (instead of cutting) to be used as softwood cuttings in spring.

Semi-ripe cuttings:
They are green at the top and partly woody at the base, they are nomally heel cuttings. Midsummer to early autumn is the usual time and most shrubs, climbers and conifers are propagated by using this method.

Hardwood cuttings:
A large number of trees, shrubs, Roses and bush fruits can be propagated in this way. The usual time is late autumn. Choose a well ripened shoot from this years growth.

Roots with soil:
You will never finish stocking your garden as long as you remain a gardener. There will nearly always be more spaces to fill, old plants to renew and new varieties to try. The simplest way to achieve success at planting time is to use pot-grown specimens or container-grown plants so as to avoid root disturbance. There are times, however, when we must depend on lifted plants, such as hardy perennials dug up at the nursery, bedding plants taken out of plastic trays or rooted cuttings separated from others in a propagator. In these cases some root damage is inevitable, and the rules for planting are designed to cut back this shock to a minimum. The leaves will still lose water after planting and so it is essential that new roots are produced as soon as possible to replace the damaged ones. This calls for thorough soil preparation, careful lifting and then planting at the right time and in the right way.

Bare-rooted plants:
These are dug up at the nursery and transported without soil, at one time all of our Roses were bought this way. Damp material, such as peat, is packed around the roots to prevent them from drying out and at no stage should the roots be allowed to become dry. Bare-rooted plants are cheaper than their container-grown counterparts and it is not true that they will always be harder to establish - some shrubs take root more readily when planted as bare-rooted stock.

Planting time is the dormant season between autumn and spring - choose mid October to November if you can, but delay planting until March if the soil is heavy and cold. Cut off all leaves, dead flowers, thin or damaged stems and broken roots. If the stem is shrivelled plunge the roots into a bucket of water for two hours. Place packing material over the roots until you are ready to begin planting. If you can't plant right away, leave the packing material intact and put in a cool but frost-free place. If the delay is likely to last more than a couple of days, unpack and heel the plants in by digging a V-shaped trench in which the roots are placed and covered.

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