Taking root cuttings
Taking root cuttings, when to take root cuttings, how to take root cuttings, time to be taking root cuttings
And you thought there was nothing to do in the garden until spring! But if you want more of you favourite plants, to add to the impact in your beds without spending a fortune, now is the time to consider propagating those with a fleshy root, time to be taking root cuttings.
Included are oriental poppies, Acanthus, Echinops and the drumstick primulas. Those are Primula Denticulata, the ones that have a tight cluster of flowers forming a ball at the top of the stem.
Root cuttings are best taken when the plant is dormant. That may not be so easy to establish, with ground staying warm under a mulch or in a sheltered space. The oriental poppies are notorious for this, and have new growth showing now. This leads you to think that they are growing. Some others you may not be able to see, relying on your memory of where you last saw them to dig them up.
I know it seems obvious, but gently dig up the donor pant, and after you’ve harvested the roots, carefully replant it into a hole where you’ve loosened the soil, so as it rains the soil is easily washed around the roots. that way you don’t have to risk breaking roots by firming it in too hard.
Take a thick root or two from your donor plant, cut off as close to the plant as possible, and use the parts that are “pencil thick”. Remove any small whispy root attached, and the thin end.
How to go about taking root cuttings
You want sections about between 5 and 10 cm long, To ensure they go in the right way up, cut the top flat, and the bottom on a angle. Insert them into a pot of compost, pointed end first. Because the compost needs to be well drained and coarse, start with just a little compost in the pot. My compost is two parts multi-purpose, one part sand and grit.
Insert you root cuttings into it, and then fill the pot. Or you can use a pencil or dibber to make a hole to drop the cutting into. More often than not they won’t push into the compost without breaking.
Once watered leave in a cold greenhouse or frame until spring. Those that survive can be potted on, and be planted out later in the year. Or at least by next year.
If you have some of these plants, you may well ask why not just buy more if you want impact. But most 9cm pots come at about £4-£5 each, plus postage. How many do you need to have some real effect? maybe 7 – 9 smaller plants, 3 – 5 larger ones. But its a nice way to spend an hour exercising your brain and body. And making some more plants will make a nice contribution to your garden and your pocket.