Gardeners’ World: Monty Don on growing hydrangeas
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The gardening expert offers a range of helpful advice about important jobs to do outdoors on his website montydon.com. Among a list of gardening tasks to complete in September, Monty Don has advised on taking cuttings from plants to reproduce more.
To propagate a plant, a stem, root, or leaf, known as the cuttings, are taken from the greenery to reproduce a replica.
“If you have not taken cuttings before – do not be daunted,” Monty wrote.
“They are easy, mostly successful, and the gateway to producing scores of new plants for free.”
Monty highlighted that while the process saved gardeners money, it also enabled them to be “very specific” about the plants they wanted to reproduce.
“A plant grown from a cutting will always be exactly the same as its parent plant, whereas one grown from seed will always be different – albeit perhaps not very much and perhaps be an improvement,” he said.
“But cuttings are essentially clones, so if you have a favourite rose or a particularly delicious gooseberry or a really good upright rosemary bush, then all these qualities will remain with the new plants grown from cuttings.”
Monty advised taking cuttings during the morning when plants contained the most moisture.
Before embarking on the task, gardeners will need a sharp knife and a pair of secateurs, with a plastic bag for the cuttings, which should be placed inside immediately to prevent them from losing a lot of moisture.
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“Always choose healthy, strong, straight growth for cutting material,” said Monty.
“It should be free from any flowers or flower buds. Plants like rosemary will root successfully from side shoots that have been peeled from the main stem, but where there is plenty of material – I prefer to take shoots with the growing tip intact.”
Once the cuttings have been taken, Monty said they were “effectively dying”, so he advised on placing them in a pot as soon as possible.
Before placing them in a pot, however, the lower leaves and shoots from the cuttings should be removed.
Most of the foliage should be removed until only an inch or so is left on the cuttings.
The stem should then be cut to size with secateurs of a sharp knife, before being placed in gritty or sandy compost.
“It is best to place the cuttings around the edge of a pot and you can always get at least four and often more in one container,” explained Monty.
The container should be placed somewhere warm and bright, but not south-facing by the window, as it could become scorched, warned the gardening pro.
The cuttings should be watered sufficiently, and the compost kept moist.
Monty advised on spraying the cuttings to prevent the leaves from drying out.
“You will know that the roots have formed when you see fresh new growth,” said Monty.
“At that point the cuttings can be removed from the pot and potted on individually before planting out next spring.”
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