Propagating your own plants

Many plants can be reproduced (propagated) relatively easily to increase your stock. The simplest forms of propagation—raising plants from seeds, taking cuttings, layering shoots, or dividing clumps—are easy for even the amateur to master, providing an inexpensive supply of new plants, as well as offering a greal sense of satisfaction for the gardener.
How you propagate your plants is determined by the nature of the plant and by the timescale at your disposal. Nature being what it is, some plants are incredibly simple to propagate, while others have to be coaxed into reproduction with exactly the right conditions— optimum warmth, light levels, and moisture. Some plants, such as annuals, grow very quickly from seed, creating a magnificent display of flowers within a few weeks of planting. Others, such as most trees, will take years to grow into a reasonable sized plant and you would be better advised to obtain these as bare-root plants via mail order or as container-grown specimens. Other plants will grow well but may not flower for many years.

Seeds or cuttings’?

Plants naturally reproduce themselves from seeds, in a process known as sexual propagation; however, their cell structure is such that it is also possible to create a new plant just from a cut portion (a “culling”) of the real, stem, or root. Other methods include division, grafting, and layering. All these met heels come under the heading ol vegetative propagation and are covered in the remainder of this chapter.
The method of propagation you choose depends largely on which is the most successful and reliable. Although most plants will grow well from seeds, the process can be slow and occasionally the plants do not breed true to type, so that the seedlings differ substantially from the parent plant. II it is particularly important to you that the offspring closely resembles the parent, vegetative propagation is usually the best option.
Whichever method of propagation you choose, the first thing you must ensure is that the parent plant looks strong and vigorous because its state of health will affect the quality of its offspring.
II you are collecting seeds yourself, make sure they are fully ripe. You will be able to tell when the seed is ready to be collected, because the pods or seed eases will begin to crack. You should collect seeds on a dry day. For cuttings, choose non-flowering shoots or, it that is not possible, remove any flowers from the
Choosing a plant for propagation by cuttings. This container-grown shrub has a well-developed roof system and healthy stems and shoots. I he compos! surrounding the
rootbail is free from pests. The plant s energy is directed into the formation of new roots.

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