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.
Bee Balm, Leopard Bane, Purple coneflower*, black eyed Susan*, Indian
blanket flower*, tickseed*, old fashioned bleeding heart.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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