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Taking cuttings for a great garden show next year

Getting back to basics here for a moment, as I think some gardening terminology can be a little confusing.

For example, tender perennials are plants that are unlikely to survive the winter, half-hardy perennials survive better than tender perennials but not as well as hardy perennials.


Perennial, meaning ‘many years’, simply means they disappear in winter dying back to rootstock where next year’s shoots appear in spring.

They will survive frost and can stay in the ground all year and include delphiniums and hostas.

Half hardy or tender perennials will need to be brought indoors during the winter, as they will not survive the frosts. These include Pelargonium and fuchsias.

Annuals, from the Latin word for year, are the easy ones as they grow from seed, flower, set seed and die within a year. However, there are two types. Hardy annuals that are planted out in spring as early as March or April as they can withstand the cold and half-hardy annuals that can be sown in spring but not planted out until after the lasts frosts.

They will die off with the first autumn frost and include cosmos and zinnias.

Biennials flower in the year after they are sown, such as foxgloves.

The reason I bring all this up is that as autumn is upon us you may have some tender plants that you would like to save and use again next year.

Salvia, fuchsia, penstemon, verbena and osteospermums are all prime candidates.

You can do this by either bringing them inside for the winter or to take up less space and to produce healthier plants you can propagate by taking cuttings.

Late autumn cuttings are called semi-ripe cuttings, those in spring are softwood cuttings but they are pretty much the same methods.

Quick guide to taking cuttings:

Take cuttings in the morning when the plant is fully hydrated using clean secateurs.

Choose a healthy, non-flowering shoot just below a leaf node which has at least three sets of leaves, strip any remaining leaves.

Choosing a cutting
Choosing a cutting

Pop straight into a bag.

As soon as possible fill a large pot with compost, dip into rooting powder if you have some, push three to five cuttings around the edge of the pot, don’t let them touch.

Place cuttings in a plastic bag
Place cuttings in a plastic bag

Water and cover the pot with a plastic bag to create a warm, moist environment and put not in direct sunlight but somewhere Repot into individual pots as you see new signs of growth.

Keep inside for winter ready to pop out after the frost next year.

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