How to - Techniques

Take cuttings now for spring flowers

Get a jump on next season by overwintering frost-tender plants

Have you fallen in love with one of the new coleus cultivars? Did you just inherit your grandmother's prize Pelargonium? Or are you simply tired of paying top dollar for your favourite double-flowered, variegated pink Impatiens? If so, consider overwintering your favourites indoors by taking tip cuttings this autumn to propagate tender perennials—and help your thumb stay green while the snow flies.

Plants that make the cut
You can easily propagate fibrous-rooted begonias; coleus; fuchsias; impatiens; zonal, ivy and scented geraniums (Pelargonium); and Plectranthus spp. and cultivars, including Swedish ivy.

Flowers that you cannot propagate
“True” annuals—those that flower and set seed in a single season, such as cosmos and sunflowers—are not suitable for propagation by cuttings. Nor are tender perennials that require high light levels (such as petunias and marigolds). At the end of the season, just toss these onto the compost heap.

10 tips for creating new plants
1.
Take cuttings from healthy plants, since they will only be as good as the parent plants, which should be robust and completely free from any signs of disease or insect infestation.

Take-cuttings-now-3.jpg2. The best time to take tip cuttings is in late summer or early autumn. Select a supple, young stem and remove any flower buds. Using a sharp, sterile knife, cut the branch eight to 12 centimetres below the growing tip, just beneath a leaf node. Each parent plant should yield six to eight tip cuttings.

3. Once you've made all the cuttings you want, remove the leaves from the bottom half of each one. Make three or four vertical slits, about 1.5 centimetres long and one to two millimetres deep, at the base of each cutting (this scoring helps speed up the rooting process).

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