>> Saturday, December 18, 2010
Plant propagation is to be my favorite subject as you can tell! Plant propagation is one of the most inexpensive ways to make more plants and expand your gardens. There are several methods of propagating plants and three of the most common ways are through through division, through layering, and through cuttings. Each of these methods has a few advantages that are worth looking at. Some of these methods will work for some plants but may not be effective for others. Here is a short summary of these methods.
Dividing plants is a very good method of propagation for many clump forming species of plants. Hostas, heucheras, daylilies, ornamental grasses, and many other perennials will not only tolerate but sometimes need to be divided. It is better to divide most plants in the spring when they are actively growing and the roots can take some abuse but some will successfully divide in the fall. You don't have to divide plants until they have developed a dead hole toward the center, but if you would like more plants faster, divide away!
Layering is a safe strategy for many plants. It involves burying a length of a low growing stem underneath the soil until it develops roots. Then the gardener can sever the new plant from the mother plant and plant somewhere else in the garden. To speed up the process the stem can be wounded and applied with rooting hormone but many plants naturally layer by themselves. Viburnums, forsythias, and azaleas are good candidates for layering along with many other shrubs. This is a safe method of propagation since the stem remains attached to the main plant until roots are formed. There is very little risk involved for the cuttings. The biggest disadvantage is that you can't make as many plants as you can with cuttings.
This is probably the area I have the most fun experimenting with in my garden. There are several different types of cuttings you can take from stem tips to basal root cuttings. Some plants take to cuttings readily while others can be a difficult challenge. Most perennials will easily work with stem tip cuttings or basal stem cuttings. Trees and shrubs can be more difficult, but if the plant creates suckers there may be good rooting material. My favorite shrub for propagating through cuttings is the red twig dogwood. I've found that they work best as hardwood cuttings done over winter (although greenwood cuttings root well too) because the amount of care necessary to get them to root is minimal. Salvias, verbena, Russian sage, catmint and many other perennials work well as stem tip cuttings.