TAKE A FEW CUTTINGS By Jonsig Eirik

There is no better way to fill up your borders and flowerbe ds with rare plants and flowering shrubs, than to grow the m from cuttings. Trade cutti ngs with your frie nds and ne ighb ors ne xt spring and summer whe n the time is right. You will all have the most be autiful flower borde r at little or no cost. The frie ndship you cre ate is a bonus. The first cuttings I trie d were mostly a failure until I learne d that most important first step that that you must take; ste rilize e verything, and I me an e ve rything. I will walk you through it ste p by step. Start off with a he althy cutting 4 to 6 inc he s long, pull most of the le ave s off, le avi ng a fe w at the e nd. Cut the bottom off hard up against a node whe re you pulle d a leaf off, or trimmed off a side shoot. Re ady se ve ral of the se if you can or only one if you came by a rare spe cimen. Ne xt step: use a plastic bucke t to prepare a mild soluti on of ble ach water. The soluti on is strong enough whe n it starts to fee l slippe ry betwee n your finge rs. You nee d about half a pail of this mix so you can immerse a plant pot. Get a small bottle of root- tone, number two, or a similar brand to coat the end of the cutti ngs. You also nee d a narrow, but dee p plastic bag. If you pre fer to use plastic glove s for doing this, by all me ans do. I ne ve r bothe r since my hands will the n be sterile for handli ng the cuttings.

Have you de cided on what to grow your little babies in? There are many things you can use . Whe n I came by a cutti ng that I definitely did not want to fail, I use d garde n quality pe arlite or ve rmiculite to be certain there is no mold. Pe at moss is good, sand is okay, but sand should be sterilize d with ble ach water and the n washe d with cle an wate r and le t drain. Okay let’s start: drop your cuttings into the bleach water and le t them stand for a fe w minutes, swish the m around if you like and the n take the m out and rinse the m in cle an wate r. Place the m on a paper towe l and cover with another pape r towe l. Find a cle an plastic pot, a deep 6-inch is good for small cutti ngs. Immerse it in the bucke t of ble ach water; make sure it’s cle an. Remove and rinse. Place a pape r towe l in the bottom and fill with vermiculite , or whate ver you de cided to use, almost to the top. Trickle a bit of water on this till it’s nice and damp throughout, but not soggy. You can te ll whe n it’s nice ly damp whe n you make a hole about two or three inche s dee p with a pe ncil-- also sterilize d. Whe n you withdraw the pencil the vermiculite should stay in place, the n it’s pe rfe ct. If you’re not sure , se t the pot in a saucer with a little water for a fe w se conds. Now take your cutting and dip it in the root-tone powde r so the bottom half inch or so is covere d; if the cutti ng has bee n ke pt damp it should stick. Now care fully lowe r the cutti ng into the hole you made with the pe ncil—all the way to the bottom and the n use the pe ncil to firmly pack the vermiculite around the cutting. Push the pencil down beside it se veral times till it’s tightly packed with no chance of air trapped beside it. Now: make a little greenhouse with the plastic bag, first rinse it out with ble ach water and shake it dry. Se t the pot in it, pull the bag up around it; tie the top secure ly. Make sure there is room in the bag for the plants to grow, by tying to top to some thing so it stays up like little te nt over the cuttings. Make sure this is always

ke pt in the shade for the ne xt two or three months, or till the cutti ng starts to grow. Don’t ope n the bag till the n. The last cuttings I did we re from a trumpet vi ne . The y started to grow in about 6 wee ks. I left them the re till they were well rooted, probably a couple of months or more . Garde ners all have the ir own special tricks. The y all work. This e ffort was a shady wind owsill proje ct to propagate that rare shrub that nobody can name. Have fun. Jonsig.