Wednesday, December 13

Gardening Tips: How to Take Softwood Cuttings

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Gardening is a very rewarding hobby, but as with most hobbies it can prove expensive when you are starting out. However with a little know how you can create plants for free which you can either use in your garden, give or swap with friends and neighbours, or even sell. There are many ways to propagate plants. Here we look at how to take softwood cuttings.

What is a softwood cutting?

A softwood cutting is one of the easiest ways to create new plants from your existing plant stocks. Softwood is the new plant growth which is soft moist and fleshy. As the plant growth ages it becomes harder and tougher. Softwood is quite delicate and will dry out quickly and therefore needs gentle handling.

Plants that are good for softwood cuttings include many house plants such as geraniums, as well as garden shrubs such as hydrangeas and fuchsias as well as many perennials.

The best time of day to take softwood cuttings is early in the morning as the plants will be most hydrated. 

All you need for the job is a sharp knife, a pot, some good multi-purpose compost, a clear plastic bag, and some rooting powder – although the latter is not essential.

Make a clean cut just below a leaf bud on a non- flowering tip approx 3-4 inches long. The roots will grow from the stem just below the leaf bud so it is important to make the cut here. Carefully remove the lower leaves. Fill a pot with compost and firm down. Make a hole with a dibber or pencil, in the compost near the edge of the pot, dip the tip of the cutting into some rooting powder (if available) tapping off any excess and lower the cutting into the hole. Press down the surrounding compost to secure the cutting in place. Several cuttings can be put round the edge of the same pot.

Water well and cover with a clear plastic bag secured with an elastic band if you have one. Place the pot on a saucer on the window sill or in the greenhouse but keep out of direct sunlight. Keep the compost moist, preferably by watering from below. 

After about six to eight weeks your softwood cuttings should have rooted. Once they have established a strong and healthy root system you can pot them on.

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