How to Take Cuttings of Tender Perennials

Ever since the time that mankind stopped hunting and gathering and started farming, generation after generation has enjoyed the satisfaction of propagating plants. August is a good time of year to take cuttings of many tender perennials. Pelargoniums and tender Geraniums (Zonal Pelargoniums to give them their correct title) respond particularly well to this form of propagation. Of course these plants can be over wintered in a frost-free environment. However the result of taking cuttings is a fresh stock of plants for next year that are less woody than the over-wintered parent plants.

Taking cuttings will affect the flowering of the mother plant. To avoid reducing the display too much take just a few cuttings from each plant and stagger taking them so that some are done in early August and some more at the end of the month or even into September.

Taking cuttings is not difficult. Choose a non-flowering stem. Take a cutting approximately 10cm long making the cut just below a leaf joint. Remove the bottom leaves and plant in a six inch pot of multi purpose compost. Up to six cuttings can be planted around the edge of the same pot. The compost should be kept moist and not allowed to become water logged or to dry out. Geraniums and Pelargoniums root easily and do not need the help of a hormone rooting powder.

Cuttings can also be taken from Fuchsias, Osteospermums, Penstemmons and Felicias. With these plants it is helpful to dip the cut end in some rooting powder. The hormone content encourages rooting whilst there is also a fungicide element to help prevent fungal disease. The pot of cuttings should be placed in a polythene bag. Once the cuttings have rooted they can be re-potted into individual pots and over wintered on a warm window sill or conservatory.

It is even possible to take cuttings of some forms of Clematis. The main difference is that the cutting has to be taken between the leaf nodes (leaf joints) and not just below a leaf joint. Cut the stem into pieces with a knife. Each cutting only needs one pair of leaves. Dip into hormone rooting powder and insert into a pot of moist gritty compost. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and keep it in a warm spot away from direct sun.