Multiply your favourites armed with these top tips

Multiply your favourites armed with these top tips

Life & Style
Tip cuttings of Correa pulchella taken now should be big enough to plant out by autumn.

Tip cuttings of Correa pulchella taken now should be big enough to plant out by autumn.

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Before you venture forth, assemble everything you'll need, as speedy transfer of a prepared cutting to its pot is a key secret of success.

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October being the perfect month to start a summer propagation program, I'm kicking off with tip cuttings.

The new side shoots of plants that are in active growth right now are great for this type of cutting, and among the quickest and easiest to take.

Before you venture forth with secateurs, plastic bag and a gleam in your eye, assemble everything you'll need, as speedy transfer of a prepared cutting to its pot is a key secret of success.

Sterile potting mix is better than fertile soil or compost as it reduces the likelihood of bacteria or mould causing cuttings to rot, while encouraging them to create roots in a hunt for nutrition.

I use one part potting mix, two parts coir peat and three parts coarse sand or grit.

Give the mixture a good soak and test the texture when it has drained, it should be crumbly and damp. If it's waterlogged and sodden, add more grit.

Any type of pot is fine but it must have drainage holes. You can fit a dozen cuttings into a 15 centimetre pot.

They'll root in six to eight weeks and you can then transplant them into individual pots for planting out next autumn.

Before you venture forth with secateurs, plastic bag and a gleam in your eye, assemble everything you'll need, as speedy transfer of a prepared cutting to its pot is a key secret of success. - Fiona Ogilvie

Many plants root happily on their own but cutting hormone liquid or powder (use within six months) speeds the process and produces bigger roots. Or, make your own liquid. Honey diluted with water does the job nicely and helps fend off bacteria.

You'll need sticks to make holes with, clear plastic to cover the cuttings and most importantly, labels: if you're anything like me, the likelihood of remembering which plant is which once it's a cutting is limited.

Early morning is action time, before the heat starts drying plants.

Take 10-15cm side shoots, nip off the growing tips and strip the lower two thirds of leaves.

Make a hole with your stick, dip the cutting base in your preferred rooting mix and insert it to half its length.

Cover pots with a large plastic bag to retain humidity and store in a shady but well-lit place: plants need light in order to grow.

Grey and silver leaves dislike humidity and don't need covering.

Check the next day that your cuttings are still upright and remove any that have started to flop over. A floppy cutting shortly becomes a dead cutting.

Propagate plants that have finished flowering and are in active growth.

Native grevilleas, mint bushes, correas, westringias and callistemons are reliable and should root quickly.

Easy exotics include rosemary, may (Spiraea), viburnum, Caryopteris clandonensis and all ceanothus.

Lavender grows beautifully from tip cuttings taken as flowering finishes, especially my favourite, soft blue French lavender (Lavandula dentata).

Dark purple L. stoechas varieties are also easy to propagate by this method.

New shoots indicate new roots. Good luck!

Berry gardens festival takes place from Thursday, October 17 to Sunday, October 20, from 10am-4pm daily, $20 includes all gardens, $5 for an individual garden, children free. Visit www.berrygardens.org.au

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