Taking Cuttings of Perennials

Early summer is an excellent time of the year to be taking cuttings of perennials.

Perennial meadows use a restricted pallet of plants that are repeated across the planting area to create a bold visual impact; not ones or twos here and there, but tens or maybe even hundreds of plants are needed to fill our horizons. However, perennial plants don’t come cheap so we need a strategy to acquire the numbers of plants needed.

In an earlier post on this subject I discussed the various options including growing perennial plants from seed, dividing their root systems and taking cuttings. This later option is an effective technique for both species and garden cultivars and it couldn’t be simpler.

Taking nodal cuttings is a standard gardening technique known by every gardener, but most often used for increasing shrubby plants. It works just as well for a wide range of perennials and early summer is an excellent time to give it a try. By cutting your plants back to get the propagating material you will also be encouraging them to produce side shoots which will lead to more flowers albeit slightly later than normally would be the case. The idea of cutting perennials back in late spring is often used to create bushier plants that don’t need staking, but don’t throw the trimmings away use them instead to make more plants.

Should you need a lot of plants the side shoots produced by cutting the mother plants back will probably be large enough to be used themselves as cutting within a month or so. In this way a single plant can generate two or three batches of cuttings in the course of just one growing season. The earliest cuttings will be large enough to be planted out in late summer and may even have started flowering. Cuttings taken later in the year are best potted up and kept in a cold frame for planting out the following spring.

Planning ahead is what gardening is all about, in the last few weeks I have been reminding my readers to plan next year’s spring bulb display and sow biennials such as foxgloves and forget-me-nots, now its the turn of taking cuttings.

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