How To Get Free Plants

Beverley Boorer

Almost any plant will grow by cutting if it is taken at the correct time of year.
Hydrangeas start to shoot in the early spring and are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Simply stick your prunings into damp ground or pots and they’ll soon be as big as the parent plant. The hibiscus also grows easily from cuttings. Place cuttings into a pot filled with soil or potting mix, encase in a plastic bag and they mostly grow roots with no trouble. Some people like to dip the end in a rooting hormone first, but they can often be grown without this added expense. Fuchsia cuttings can also be taken in spring, but will do even better in the autumn.
Sometimes the best time to take a cutting is at bud swell. This is usually early spring when you can see the buds starting to swell on the branch, but before any greenery or flowers show. Deciduous hibiscuses respond very well to this type of cutting. Some fruit trees can be propagated in this way also. The main thing to remember when growing cuttings is to keep them damp and in semi-shade for the first few weeks.
Softwood tip cuttings can be taken while the plant is growing well and the easiest way of making a mini-greenhouse to help roots develop is to simply cut a soft-drink bottle in half. Poke a hole in the bottom with your garden fork, fill it with potting mix and push in two or three cuttings, then pop the top half back over the bottom half.
If you find it hard to slip on, make a vertical cut of about 2in (4cm) in the bottom half. The edges will overlap when pressure is applied and give a little bit of extra space for the top half to fit over. A clear plastic bag can be used for the top instead, if you prop it up with some twigs. A rubber band will prevent the wind from blowing it off.
Many daisy varieties will grow roots along the stalk of a branch that rests on the ground. Carefully pull a branch down to ground level and anchor it there with a brick for a few weeks. When the roots have formed, cut the branch off the main bush. Leave it in place for a while longer to allow the roots to gain strength, then lift it out gently and relocate in its new home.
Plants like violas, pansies and cosmos seed freely and can come up year after year. In these days of hybrids, the seed plant does not always remain true to the parent, but that does not matter. Even though it reverts to the original plant, it is still very attractive and in some cases, hardier than the hybrid was. Some hybrid pansies and violas have such huge and heavy flowers that the sheer weight bows them to the ground so that only the backs of the flowers are visible. This spoils the look of them completely.
Heartsease, or Johnny-jump-ups from which they originated, flower earlier and lift their smiling faces upwards no matter whether the day brings wind or rain.
Collecting seed from vegetables and flowers can be an interesting hobby. Pieces of old pantyhose or stockings can be tied carefully over the seedpods as they ripen. Then the seed will simply fall into these collection bags and be safe. If you prefer to collect and save seed, be sure it is completely ripe and dry before storing, otherwise it will simply go mouldy and become useless. Label and date each packet of seed before you put it away in a cool, dark place.
So, if you want some extra plants for the garden at no extra cost, let your flowers go to seed and have a go at growing cuttings. It’s really easy.

Bev Boorer is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader whose articles regularly appear in e-zines and on websites. She also writes ebooks, and has books and stories for children published. Find out more about Bev and how to contact her from her website:
Her gardening ebook 'Easy Gardening' can be accessed from:-

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