By the time September and October roll around many of us are “gardened out”, tired of watering and ready for some good old South Sound rain. The truly fun part of gardening (buying and planting) is pretty much over. Now it’s time to clean up and put everything away, a real mood shifter. But, back to the fun stuff…late summer and early autumn are ideal times for experimenting with cuttings.
Taking cuttings is highly addictive. It’s easy, inexpensive and you get more plants! Many independent nursery people began by experimenting with cuttings, got carried away and ended up with a business.
Knowing WHEN to take cuttings is the “secret”. You can take plenty of cuttings in the South Sound in the next two months. Gardening isn’t over. Right now you can take cuttings of everything from…
Akebia to Viburnum
Stem cuttings of more than 100 trees, shrubs and perennials from Akebia vines to Viburnum can be taken in September and October in South Sound gardens. You’ll need sharp pruners, decent soil and a container about 5” deep. Each cutting has its own requirement but generally speaking…cut several 5” stems with many leaf nodes and carefully place several nodes deep into the container of soil. It’s ok to crowd them until after they are rooted. They like the company. Slowly plunge each container in water over the rim until the bubbles go away. This gives them a good moist start. Unless you have a greenhouse leave them outside against a wall that gets both sunshine and rain. Corral them with some kind of mulch for extra cold protection. That’s pretty much it.
The most difficult part of the whole process is keeping your hands off the cuttings while roots are forming. Try not to tug. By early spring, you should have at least one cutting that “took” but chances are you’ll have more than you need.
Heirloom roses (choose stems that snap like a green bean), rosemary and lavender (choose stems with harder wood and several leaf nodes) and Penstemon (choose non flowering stems with several leaf nodes) are all easy plants to propagate from cuttings. Good starters.
If that sounds like too much trouble, try rooting in water. Coleus, ivies, mint, basil, sage, thyme and even hydrangeas root successfully in plain old water. For a complete list of what, when and how to propagate plants from cuttings, the best reference is…
“Cuttings Through the Year”
“Cuttings Through the Year” is a locally produced propagation book from the Washington Park Arboretum. It is positively indispensible if you want to propagate from cuttings in the South Sound. It has been reprinted many times since its launch in 1959 so you know it must be good.
It’s a simple format. Each month has a list of plants whose cuttings can be successfully taken within that month. Each plant is accompanied by “S”( soft wood) “H” (hardwood), “R” (root cuttings) or the dreaded “difficult” so you know exactly what kind of cutting to take and exactly when to take it. All of this valuable information is packed into a 5×7 paperback with only fifty pages. It’s quite a bargain at around $10.
Order through Washington Park Arboretum (206-325-4510) or www.gardenshoponline.com.