Propagate easily all year round

In Fiona's Garden | Propagate easily all year round


Life & Style
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Creating new plants, aka propagating, is something all gardeners do.

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Creating new plants, aka propagating, is something all gardeners do.

Bright silver Puya venusta with phlomis, glaucous blue Seseli gummiferum and Salvia guaranitica in plantswoman Peta Trahar’s Bilpin garden.

Bright silver Puya venusta with phlomis, glaucous blue Seseli gummiferum and Salvia guaranitica in plantswoman Peta Trahar’s Bilpin garden.

We buy a plant and fancy some more, or there’s a pathetic howl for help from our bestie who is organising the school fair plant stall, or maybe we just love sowing seeds or sticking cuttings into pots, and watching things grow.

You can come at propagation from two angles, either that of an individual plant and its needs, or what will succeed best in the current season. I’m a fan of the latter.

It’s my experience that few plants are so picky that you absolutely must grab them at the precise right moment. While it’s true tip cuttings of lavender root like steam if taken in November and the Christmas holidays are great for striking daphne, I regularly divide or take cuttings of new purchases regardless of when I buy them, and they succeed more often than not.

This leaves me free to consider what’s best as I go along. Right now, for example, I’m propagating all my tender subjects that I know won’t survive a highland winter.

This autumn I’m also taking backup cuttings of heat and dry-stressed plants, including Viburnum carlesii, Buddleia crispa with huge, felty grey leaves and lots of Abelia x grandiflora that’s such a brilliant gap filler.

You can come at propagation from two angles, either that of an individual plant and its needs, or what will succeed best in the current season. I’m a fan of the latter. - Fiona Ogilvie

My tender plants start with salvias, especially the ‘Wish’ series with their dark green leaves and glowing purple, hot pink and coral flowers. Some growers say they’re frost-hardy but beware, left in the ground mine are irretrievably dead by spring.

The ‘Wish’ series like many salvias are sub-shrubs whose multiple stems die back in winter to a woody base. If you’re gardening on the highlands or inland, split and pot them up now and place undercover in a well-lit spot where they can over-winter.

A shade-cloth covered bench or shelf on a south facing wall is ideal.

S. discolor from the Peruvian Andes is another fabulously desirable but tender salvia. It has floppy white stems needing unobtrusive support, pale green leaves with white undersides, and pistachio-coloured calyces clasping tubular, blackish-purple flowers.

It loves a long, hot summer, won’t survive temperatures below zero and is easily propagated by semi-ripe cuttings taken now.

Puya venusta is another South American beauty that’s also a teeny bit sensitive to cold nights. Its pink stems carrying navy blue flowers are striking but its foliage is the real eye-catcher: narrow, bright silver leaves edged with unobtrusive but spiteful little hooks.

Puyas are bromeliads and dead easy to propagate: simply remove offsets and pot up. Don’t worry if there are no roots, they soon make new ones.

Succulents are wonderful dry climate plants but again, don’t rely on hardiness.

Aenomiums, Crassulas and Kalanchoes are usually tender, but stem cuttings are easy. And, leaves that shed of their own accord will root if left lying on the soil’s surface.

Find ‘Wish’ salvias and S. discolour at Unlimited Perennials, Lavington, Albury, www.salviaspecialist.com/ phone 02 6025 4585.

Follow Peta Trahar at Town and Country Gardens on Facebook.

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