Last week we looked at propagating plants, here are some more ways to grow your own….
Layering: Many ground cover plants and shrubs with low branches can be multiplied in this way. Just peg a branch to the ground and cover the pegged area under a heap of earth for six months. When there is a good root ball cut off the rooted branch and plant up.
Air layering: This slightly more difficult method can be easily used to produce new rubber tree or solandra plants. Make a slit in a healthy branch and then seal it within a plastic sleeve of dampened moss or potting compost. When a good root ball has developed cut through the branch below and plant up the new plant .
Grafting: Many fruit trees, roses and acacias are produced in this way. A cutting of the desired cultivar is inserted into cuts in a suitable host rootstock just before the sap rises in the spring. Unfortunately the several methods involved require a little practice but at the second or third attempt you may create an orange tree that also has branches of lemons and grapefruits.
Problems that can occur.
Although most of these methods are easy for any keen gardener there are a number of potential problems. However the following actions can minimise them.
Firstly stem and leaf cuttings inserted in pots of compost can dry out. The best way of preventing this is to place a pot of cuttings inside a clear or semi opaque plastic bag and then blow up and seal the bag. The cuttings can be left in this microclimate until strong new growth is observed.
Secondly cuttings can rot off. The chance and extent of this can be minimised by washing and sterilising plant pots, sterilising the potting compost on a tray in an oven, adding sand or fine grit to the potting compost to achieve good drainage, adding a few drops of a fungicide to the watering can or spray before watering cuttings when first planted and when subsequently required.
Thirdly don’t be tempted to plant new plants too early. Be patient and wait until there are signs of a good root ball and the weather has warmed up in the spring. Then harden them off for a few days in the sun before finally planting in the garden or in pots.
One can of course propagate from seed. Seeds can be purchased in packets, collected from your own plants or swapped with friends. The advantages include being able to tap into specialist seed catalogues that include many seeds of varieties of plants rarely available from nurseries or in the case of vegetables heritage or heirloom seeds no longer or never available commercially.
If you want to grow something different obtain the catalogues of Chiltern Seeds or Semillas Silvestres via the internet. Unfortunately growing from seeds is a topic too long for this column. However it is thoroughly covered in Section 6.13 of our book ‘Your garden in Spain – Planning, planting and maintenance’ and Sections 4.12 and 4.13 of ‘Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’.
©Clodagh and Dick