Propogation [Long]

Hello all. I'm in Zone 6b (Maryland) and in my second year of a naturalistic gardening project. I'm lucky to have several microclimates: full sun, partial sun, filtered shade, deep shade and a natural spring fed bog.
I'm going to try and propagate several perennials by the cutting method, but was wondering if it's worth the effort and what techniques to use. Everything I have coming up now was planted from 1 gallon nursery container stock. I'm putting more nursery stock in, but want to stretch my dollars.
PLANTS: Bee Balm, Leopard Bane, Purple coneflower*, black eyed Susan*, Indian blanket flower*, tickseed*, old fashioned bleeding heart.
QUESTIONS: I'm familiar w/ the basics, but was wondering what mediums are best - standard soil, sterilized starter mix, perilite or just plain water. I want to avoid damping off (fungus). Rooting hormone? Should I do it before the buds flower, or during flowering? Will there be enough time to get them established before the first frosts (late Oct.).
I have collected seed from those marked "*." Can I direct sow now in some bare spots once the last frost date has passed, or should I wait until Fall? I did the refrigerator thing and they've been at room temp. for about 3 -4weeks now. I know they probably won't bloom this year, but I'm patient. I am wondering if the seeds are viable since all the plants came from the same source and am assuming there's not much genetic diversity there, but maybe they're self pollinating.
Also, can I divide the above plants w/ a knife right out of the nursery containers w/ a reasonable chance of success?
TIA for any advice. Sorry about the lengthly post. - Zing
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Leopard's bane [Doronicum] is exceptionally easy to propagate. Just divide the roots at any time, though preferably October to March. It is one of the most under-rated plants. Few flowers are so attractive and last as long. It can even be grown in grass that is not cut before June. Best Wishes.

naturalistic
but
container
want
Fall?
patient.
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Zing wrote [in part]:

Expect only 1/3 to 1/2 of the cuttings to "take". But do it! Not only is it cheaper than buying plants, but also you get a great amount of satisfaction.

See my "My Potting Mix" at <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . Just use the sand and peat moss, omitting ALL nutrients. If you can't get equal amounts of sand and peat, err on the side of extra peat; it inhibits rot. Make sure the mix is quite wet in the container where you are putting the cuttings.
Usually, cuttings are best if the shoot contains no flower or flower bud. However, I had good luck with polygonum cuttings that were in full bloom. This varies by plant.
After you cut the shoot, hold the cut end in a bucket of water or in the sink and cut away another inch, cutting under water. Hold the shoot in the water for about another 30 seconds. Then, use a very sharp non-serrated knife to cut again, just below a leaf joint. Remove any leaves at the joint and at the joint above it. I use a powdered rooting hormone. Dip the wet stem in the powder up to the second leaf joint; then shake it to remove excess powder. Make a hole in the potting mix; I use the knife from the last cut. Carefully insert the cutting without rubbing the hormone powder away. Press the soil firmly around the cutting.
I take a clear liter soda bottle and cut off the top and pry off the hard plastic bottom. Upside-down, this makes an excellent miniature greenhouse over the cutting. Place the pot in a location where it will receive good indirect light but no direct sun.
Some cuttings might take two weeks. Others might take two months. Be patient. When roots have formed, repot into a larger container. Use the same potting mix, but this time include the nutrients. Leave the repotted rooted plants in the same no-sun location for about a week. You can then plant them into the ground, but you still might have to provide partial shade until they are sufficiently established.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
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As you have noted, several of these reseed freely. In fact, they pretty much all do. Paghat's site says Bleeding Heart spreads by both seeds and rhizome growth. For cheap and easy propagation, I'd just collect the seeds.

I have little experience in propagating from cuttings. Some things I just stick in a glass of water and see if they grow roots. Not familiar with the finer points.

(Look around for specifics on each plant. Not all seeds require chilling.) You have nothing to lose by sowing some of your seeds now. Save some for spring if they don't work out.

Seem to be in my experience. My Rudbeckia has been coming up from seed for years and years. Coneflower next door the same.

Again, check for each plant. I see it is recommended that Bee Balm be divided and replanted every few years.
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wrote:

Thanks to Brian, David and Frogleg for your responses! I'll be getting started this week on the cuttings and expanding my "wildflower" borders.
Zing
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If the plants have grown well since they were planted, dividing them is the easiest way to propagate plants that would continue growing and likely bloom this year.. except the bleeding heart is likely already up, blooming, and perhaps has fading flowers already. It may set some seed, which seems to grow readily. If they are happy, I've read that it can become a pest because they grow and spread, as well as self seed.
Chances are the bleeding heart is up too far, but maybe not. I looked in _Propagation Handbook Basic Techniques for Gardeners_ by Geoff Bryant, and in the section on softwood cuttings it said:
"Many perennials, such as begonia, dicentra and delphinium, produce vigorous, fleshy shoots in the spring . These can be used as softwood cuttings. By allowing the stem to reach a manageable size, then cutting it at the base, it is possible to obtain a large number of cuttings without having t break up the parent plant. These are known as basal cuttings. Do not allow the cuttings to get too large before using them -- they strike much faster if the leaves are not fully expanded. Many of these plants grow very quickly, so there is a limited time in which to work."
Of course, use rooting hormones. and a soilless rooting medium .. a peat based potting mix is a good start as long as it's not coarse with chunks of bark in it, you can add pearlite, to add drainage , sterilized sand would be ok, but when you start adding sand from the pile outside, you could add fungus that could ruin all your hard work with a fungus.
Anyway, I may try tip cuttings from my bleeding hearts (dicentra) because I love them and I only have one young white one, it'd be nice to make a few more. I'll look for a tip that doesn't have a bunch of flowers hanging on it and give it a try!
Janice

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