I’d like to show you How to Propagate Softwood Cuttings.
There are many methods for propagating new plants but June is the perfect time for taking softwood cuttings. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been busy taking lots of softwood cuttings of all kinds of plants. I haven’t counted them but I must have stuck well over 500!
If you’re considering growing your own plants from cuttings you should read this first!
If you’re thinking of growing plants from cuttings then you need to research something called Plant Breeders Rights.
Basically it’s a law that was introduced to protect the rights of plant breeders … a sort of patent for plants if you like. Essentially it made it illegal to propagate certain plants for profit … but the good news is there are loads of varieties that were around before Plant Breeders Rights were introduced that you can propagate.
My advice is:
1. Always read the label on any plant that you buy. It will clearly state if the plant is subject to Plant Breeders Rights.
2. Look for the older varieties and you should have no problems with propagating them.
3. Propagate these older varieties so other growers can access these unprotected varieties.
The more ‘protected plants’ that are introduced to the market the more demand there will be for the unprotected varieties.
Taking your own cuttings is a really cost effective way to gain extra plants, which you can either plant in the garden, or pots or perhaps share with friends and neighbours. In these tough times you might even be able to generate some extra cash by selling a few at the local Jumble Sale, providing they are not protected by PBR.
By the end of last summer which was my first year I’d managed to raise around 50 mixed plants and shrubs which may not seem like a lot, but it gave me the confidence and belief that with a little organisation I might just have found a way to bring a little extra into the household budget and at the same time have some fun at the same time.
How can I increase my chances of success with my cuttings?
Good question and something I’ve blogged a few times about before so I won’t go into too much detail on the different methods, but suffice to say if I can do it, anyone can.
All you need is suitable plant material from which to take the cutting, a 4” plant pot, or seed tray, growing medium, (sharp sand from the builders merchants is the cheapest option) and some hormone rooting powder.
Choose your cutting material carefully making sure you select from this years growth. Each cutting should be approximately 3-5 inches long (not an exact science) and not with too much of the new green sappy growth at the end of the branch.
Cut just below a leaf node, (just below a pair of leaves) and remove most of the leaves on the cutting leaving 2 or 3 leaves on the cutting. I cut the top out of my cuttings to encourage roots rather than leaf growth but they’ll grow just as well without doing this.
Before planting the cutting dip it hormone-rooting compound, then dib a hole and plant as many cuttings as you can fit into a 4” plant pot. You can pack those cuttings in as they won’t be in there for long before they are planted into separate pots. And above all don’t forget to label them with as much info about the cuttings as possible. I include the name, date the cutting was taken, and the botanical name if I know it.
Water the cuttings in to settle the compost around the base of the cutting and cover with a plastic bag to preserve moisture, then place on the windowsill.
These are my latest batch of cuttings I stuck in the bench 10 days ago. As you can see they are settling in nicely and I’ve invested almost nothing other than my time and a couple of bags of builders sand.
It’s packed with cuttings that will all grow into perfect little plants with a little care and attention.
The secret to success with cuttings is?
Keep your cuttings moist!
When you first plant up a cutting it needs to be kept damp. I’ve installed a cheap and cheerful mist system that cost me a total of £20 which includes a battery-operated timer. I fitted cheap and cheerful timer from EBay so I don’t have to worry about constantly watering the cuttings.
Alternatively you could use a hand sprayer but you will need to spray every 3-4 hrs. As soon as they start to perk up you can reduce the frequency of the mist.
Here are the first batch I took on the 2nd of June, and in just 4 weeks they have developed a healthy root system, which I find truly amazing.
I did move away from using sharp sand last year as I didn’t have a great deal of success, but after much research I’ve realised it had nothing to do with the sand, but all to do with the way I was looking after the cuttings after they were planted. The great thing about sharp sand is (apart from being cheap) you can pack in the cuttings and when you lift them out the roots separate really easily.
After about 6 weeks I transplant the cuttings into single pots using my own free draining compost mix.
… and here is the end goal, last years cuttings all potted up and ready to be planted in my garden or perhaps sold at the local farmers market.
Do I need lots of space to raise my own plants?
Depends on the number of plants you want to grow I guess. I’m using a corner of the garden, which is about 20 paces by 20 paces square. It feels small, but It’s more than enough for me to get started as I still have much to learn.
This is my potting bench and preparation area, which I use mainly for mixing compost and potting on plants. You can just see in the corner where I keep my plant pots that I’ve collected over the last 3 years from here there and everywhere.
Doesn’t look like there is much going on at the moment, but in a couple of weeks it will be stacked with new plants.
If you’re looking for free plant pots try your local garden center . They often chuck out old plant pots for recycling. If you have a word with the manager they are bound to have a few kicking about. I only know this as I have a friend who works for the local garden center and she told me to ask.
Below is one the beds where I plant my cuttings after they have rooted. I’ve worked in a few buckets of compost and sprinkled a few handfuls of bone meal into the soil to get the plants off to a good start and they are responding well. They make look small at the moment but by the time next summer comes around they will good size plants.
Lots happening in the garden I know, but if you do nothing else this week try taking a few cuttings and see if you can get them to root.
Best wishes to one and all.
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