This month’s talk on plant
propagation was given by a very enthusiastic gardener, Neil Holmes-Smith.
He trained at Edinburgh Botanical Garden and has been in the profession
for 34 years.
He started the talk surrounded by numerous boxes
and bags containing a number of very large plants which were used
to demonstrate the various methods of plant propagation. This falls
into 5 main categories which are, cuttings (Soft, Semi ripe and
ripe or sometime called soft or hard wood), grafting, division,
layering and of course natures usual way, seed. With seed the resulting
plant most probably will be different to the parent due to cross
pollination and the only way to produce an exact copy of the parent
plant is to propagate using one of the other four methods.
The first demonstration Neil gave was on cuttings
and he explained the different techniques that can be used and some
of the science behind them.
Cuttings both Soft and Hard wood, soft
wood cuttings are taken in the spring when the plant is
active and starting to grow whereas hard wood cuttings are taken
using the mature one year old wood from around autumn when the plant
is dormant and can be taken up to when the plant starts to shoot
in the spring. The hard wood cutting will have
a store of carbohydrates under the bark ready for next spring and
it is this that sustains the cutting until it establishes its own
root system. The cutting should be about the thickness of a pencil
and about 20cm long with a straight cut under a bud at the base
and a slanted cut at the top above a bud to show which way up it
should be planted because it will not grow if planted upside down.
The cutting should be planted with two thirds in the ground in a
straight sided trench with grit at the base to help with drainage
and left for at least a year to establish.
Grafting is a way of using a bud
from one plant and inserting it under the bark of a different host
plant. The joint with the bud is then tightly wrapped and fuses
with the host plant. The bud will grow having all the properties
of its parents with the root stock of the host.
Division is a way to get more
plants from clump forming perennials by cutting the root into smaller
sections, this will also help to tidy up a plant where the centre
has died off and all the new growth is around the edges. The crown
is dug up and cut or chopped into smaller clumps. Neil demonstrated
this using a variety of implements ranging from a kitchen knife
to an axe to cut it up, or the use of two forks back to back teasing
the root ball apart.
Layering utilises one of natures
own propagation methods by pegging down a long stem and allowing
it to form roots at one of the bud nodes. After the roots are established
the new plant can then be severed from the parent and replanted
The very informative talk ended with Neil hosting
a question and answer session then offering the cuttings and divided
plant to the audience.
Two of our members who are really
enjoying the talk
Our next meeting is on 17th December and is our Christmas meeting
with light refreshments and a demonstration on Wood Turning.
There is a raffle and a Bar. Visitors are welcome £1:00