your own plants has significant benefits for the organic grower giving you more
control over their quality and where they are sourced. It is also more cost
effective and rewarding than buying commercially grown plants, especially if
you have saved your own seed. See our article on
Seeds and Seed saving.
You can also divide plants that have outgrown their space, take cuttings off the tips of plants and pin stems down to do layering, as well as adding bits of one plant onto another in grafting.
Unlike us, plants have all they need distributed throughout their bodies so can regenerate from really small bits!
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Other methods of propagation include:
Division is used to increase perennial plants
and is mostly done in Autumn. Simply cut back the old stems, lift the root
clump with a fork and divide in half. Separate the younger outer shoots and
replant in their new spot. The older and less vigorous centre of the clump can
be composted. The same technique applies to bulbs although these will be easier
Layering is a simple method of propagating where a stem is encouraged to produce roots whilst still attached to its parent plant. Many plants do this naturally including shrubs, climbers, raspberries and blackberries. There are two basic methods - simple layering which involves burying part of a stem, leaving the end exposed to continue growing. The buried part of the stem should be pegged down and encouraged to root by cutting or wounding. Tip layering is particularly suitable for briar fruits like blackberries which will root and sprout again from their tips. In late summer pull down a stem, peg its tip in a hole and bury it with soil.
Grafting and budding are similar techniques used to propagate a new plant variety onto another. Typically this is used for fruit trees but is also suitable for shrubs and other plants. Most often the aim is to combine the growth and disease resistance characteristics of the rootstock with the fruiting (or other characteristics) of a specific variety. Grafting uses a stem from the new variety whereas budding uses a single bud and there are various ways in which each is encouraged to combine with the host tree.
Cuttings of new growth can be taken from most
plants and these will propagate successfully.
Softwood cuttings are taken in spring/early summer and are suitable for shrubs and perennials. The fleshy new growth will root easily, and after trimming, the cuttings are planted in potting compost. However as they are still in leaf they will rapidly lose moisture unless humidity is maintained by sealing in a plastic bag or similar.
Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from late summer into autumn and are suitable for hardy climbers, herbs, groundcover, shrubs and trees. They include the more mature stem as well as the soft growing tip and are treated in a similar way to softwood cuttings although they are less tender.
Hardwood cuttings are taken from autumn through to winter and are suitable for climbers, shrubs and trees, including fruit bushes. As the cutting is from the mature stem and dormant it is more robust. It can be planted outside after trimming where it will develop roots the following spring.