It's time to make the cut...
If you haven’t already propagated some of your tender perennials in readiness for next year, September is probably the last chance you have before the colder weather sets in.
Plants such as fuchsia, verbena, gazanias and argyranthemums are best propagated each year from cuttings, and by doing so now, you’ll keep your garden supplied with fresh, vigorous flowering plants.
One method is a soft wood cutting, and if taken from relatively young plants, they root very quickly.
First, gather your cutting material – these are the bits of plant you intend to take cuttings from. For the best results, collect cuttings early in the morning when the plants are full of water. Select non-flowering shoots and remove 10cm of shoot, cutting the length off neatly above a bud on the parent plant.
Put the cuttings into a sealed plastic bag to stop them from drying out. Once you have all the material you need, fi ll a container or pot with good-quality compost.
Take a piece of cutting material from the bag and with a sharp knife make a cut about 7cm long just below a leaf joint, known as nodes. Remove the lower leaves on the cutting and nip out the soft tip.
Next, dip the base of the cutting into hormone rooting powder, then use a dibber to make a hole deep enough so that the fi rst two pairs of leaves sit just above the level of the compost. Continue until you’ve used up all of your cutting material, label the pot and then place it in a propagator at 18°C or cover in a plastic bag and put somewhere warm and light.
Ventilate cuttings twice a week for 10-15 minutes, keep the compost moist and remove any dead or dying leaves.
Within a few weeks the cuttings will have developed their roots and start to show signs of growth. Once bushy enough, plant them into pots of their own and sit back to enjoy some plants for free.
Tip of the Month
Sow or lay a new lawn and repair old ones. If the month is warm and dry though, be sure to water the newly seeded or turfed areas regularly.
Q: Due to the very warm weather earlier in the year, my leeks bolted and I now have flowering leeks! What can I do to salvage them?
A: Did you know leek flowers are edible? They have a sweet and oniony flavour so use them in the same way as you would chive flowers – on salads, in soups, across quiches – for oniony flavouring without adding the bulk of an actual onion. As for the leeks, lift the ones you want and use them as normal. If they’ve gone too woody, then slowly braising them will make them significantly more palatable.