(HOST) Mid-summer is a great time to duplicate many shrubs and flowers, and commentator Charlie Nardozzi says you don’t have to be an expert to do it.
(NARDOZZI) Hard core gardeners are notoriously thrifty. They recycle plastic pots, grow perennials and shrubs from seed, as opposed to buying plants in garden centers, and love to take a snip of a desired plant from a friend, neighbor or the wild.
Of course, I’d never advocate stealing cuttings from plants without asking permission, but once – years ago – I coveted a beautiful shrub rose that bordered the lawn of a neighbor I didn’t know very well. One evening when I was taking a walk by his property I gave in to temptation and just snipped off a shoot. The result is a fragrant shrub rose that’s hardy as nails, but even now, years later, I still feel a little guilty; so by all means – ask first. And after you do, here are two methods of propagation to try.
Tip layering is perhaps the simplest way to get a new plant from any shrub or fruit with long, droopy stems. It works well on raspberries, blackberries, forsythia, spirea and rambling roses.
To tip layer, select a one-year old, long rambling cane. Lay it down on the ground, bending vertical the last six to twelve inches of the shoot. Wound the bottom side of the cane on the ground with a sharp knife, scraping off some bark. To insure success, dust the wounded area with some rooting hormone powder. Cover this area with a three- to four-inch thick layer of soil, leaving the six- to twelve-inch long vertical tip exposed to the air and staked upright. Periodically check for new roots. By next spring you can sever the connection between the mother plant and the baby and dig up your new plant.
Another technique that is quicker is what I call “snip and go.” You snip off a softwood cutting and go propagate it at your own house. July is a good time to take softwood cuttings of many shrubs and flowers such as lilac, spirea, forsythia, daphne, burning bush and viburnum. Softwood refers to the new growth that has begun to mature and is firm and rigid, yet has not started to harden into woody growth.
Take a four- to six-inch long cutting with a hand pruner. Remove the bottom leaves and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder. Stick the cuttings in a plastic pot filled with moistened potting soil, and cover with a clear plastic bag with a few holes poked into it. In a month or so the cutting should form roots. You can transplant them into individual pots and hold them in a nursery bed this winter for planting next spring.
So whether it’s by cutting or layering, go out and start collecting some of those coveted shrubs and flowers in your area. Just be sure to ask permission first.
Charlie Nardozzi is an all-around gardening expert with a special fondness for tomatoes and roses.