Greenhouses are often the ‘nerve centre’ of the garden. With cuttings to be taken, seeds to be sown, potting of rooted cuttings to be completed, it’s all going on in the greenhouse!

In two recent Pots & Trowels video, Martin Fish shared insight into his greenhouse as he explores how we can create free plants from cuttings. He also shares expert advice to help pot these plants and cuttings and create even more free flowers for your garden. You can watch these videos below or you keep reading this article for a summary and guide to help you propagate and pot your free plants.

What Equipment Do I Need to Propagate Plants from Cuttings?

Whilst propagating plants and then planting the cuttings can be a fairly simple job, it’s important to use the right tools. A sharp knife is to key to clean cut and setting yourself up for success in this way makes the task much easier. Here’s a list of all the items you’ll need for propagating and planting:

  • The plant of your choice (we’re using dahlias and pelargoniums)
  • Compost
  • Pots
  • Labels
  • A budding knife – Try the Darlac Budding Knife. With a stylish design and a razor-sharp edge it’s easy to keep clean – an important factor in avoiding cross contamination.
  • Slow-release feed

The Darlac Budding Knife

How to Take Cuttings

Once you’ve got your tools, you’ll be ready to start taking cuttings. Dahlias are a fantastic plant to use for cuttings, especially if you’ve read our earlier post and potted your dahlia tubers earlier on in the season! You’ll find your dahlia should be in a strong position now, with lots of leafy green growth. You could keep your dahlia in its pot, allow it to keep growing, and it would be ready to plant outside after the risk of frost has gone, but you do have another option.

You can take a few cuttings from your dahlia, so instead of having one ready to pot, you could have three or even four ready for the summer season. All for free!

To take your cuttings, follow this step-by-step guide:

Step 1 ­– Take a sharp Budding Knife and carefully part the leaves of the plant so you can cut a stem from below the tuber. Be sure to trim below a leaf joint and cut downwards. You’re aiming for a cutting of 2-3 inches. Smaller cuttings tend to root better as they don’t wilt.

Step 2 – Remove some of the lower leaves. You don’t need all of them and you don’t want them below the compost level as they’ll just rot. It’s important to minimise the amount of foliage on the cutting.

Step 3 – Pot your cutting. You could root all your cuttings individually in small fibre pots, or you could put three of four together in one pot. Fill your pot with compost (a peat free one, works well for this plant), shake the pot to level it. Then, using your Darlac Bamboo Dibber, make a hole in the soil. And push the cutting about an inch into the compost and lightly firm it into place.

Step 4 – Repeat this process for all cuttings and add your label, so you know what plants you’ve got.

Step 5 – Add water and then store in a propagator. The base of the cutting should always be moist. This helps them to root. It may take 10-14 days for the plant to root and to start making growth. Once they’ve got a root system though, they can be potted individually and grown on.

You can use many plants to take rooted cuttings. As well as dahlias, pelargoniums are a great place to start. This hardy plant can handle lots of movement. But once your propagation has worked and you’ve got growth from your cuttings, it’s time to repot them and encourage even further growth.

How to Pot Your Cuttings When Grown

To pot your cuttings, the secret is pot size. Don’t go from a small pot to a huge pot, as your plant won’t want that volume of compost. It’s good to start small and move up gradually. In a month or two, you’ll move up to a bigger pot, but there’s no need to rush the process.

You’ll need a good, well-drained multi-purpose compost. It could also be worth adding a handful of some control release fertiliser. This will release nutrients over four to five months so it will keep your plant fed. Read the package for the full application rate, as overfeeding is just as bad as under feeding and you’ll scorch the roots.

The aim is to plant your stem in the middle of the pot, then cover with compost and allow it to work its way around the root. You don’t want the compost to be fully compact, but if it’s too loose the plant will rock around. Use your fingers to lightly firm it and then tap into place. When you’ve finished, you’ll want the compost to be about half an inch below the rim of the pot, so when it’s watered, the water won’t run off and it’s got somewhere to sit. Don’t forget to add your label!

If your plant is bushy it’s fine to leave it, however if you’ve just got a single shoot it may be worthwhile pinching out a shoot to encourage growth.

Water your plants to settle the roots and then leave them in a covered greenhouse. They don’t need to be kept too warm as it will make them leggy. You want bushy growth. After around two months, you’ll have a great root system, and the plant will be ready to be re-potted and situated outside for the summer sun and flower season.

Remember – It’s good to take fresh cuttings every two or three years, as it helps to rejuvenate the stock instead of any plant getting too old or too woody.

From propagation, to a fully grown cutting, to a re-potted and large plant! You’ll soon have a greenhouse, and then a garden, full of free plants. What’s not to love about that?

Where to Buy Darlac Tools

Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre. Find your local Darlac stockist here.

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