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Preview: Gardening Q & A

Gardening with George Weigel

Answers to your gardening questions and other tips by George Weigel.

Last Build Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:27:46 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017

Make plant babies, assess the situation, snip and clip: This Weekend in the Garden

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 13:00:47 UTC


This weekend's yard jobs include starting plants you want to keep via cuttings, neatening the flower beds, and assessing how things went this summer in order to plan planting/transplanting changes this month and October. Start new plants from cuttings Now's a good time to salvage plants you don't want to lose to frost (yes, that'll be here before we know it) by starting new ones from "cuttings." Many plants have the seemingly magical ability to turn into new plants simply by having a piece of their stem stuck into potting mix. This is easier than you think, and it works with many shrubs as well as flowers. It's particularly worth trying with annual flowers and tropicals - the ones you bought in spring but that are going to croak when frost hits. If you can get cuttings of these to root now, you can move the potted babies inside for winter. The plants may get lanky and leggy if you don't have plant lights, but that's OK. The point is to keep them alive. Come late winter, you can take cuttings from those plants to make multiple copies of plants that can go outside after frost in spring. Plan B is to take a mature plant inside and take cuttings from those in late winter. They're often big and rangy, though, plus they're more likely to have bug or bug eggs than the smaller rooted cuttings. Coleus, geraniums, begonias, alternanthera and Persian shield are some of the easiest to root. To give this a try, clip 4- to 6-inch stems off the end of plants you'd like to have for next year. Pinch off the lowest two sets of leaves so you'll be able to stick both of those points below the potting mix. (These so-called "nodes" are where the roots will emerge.) Stick your cuttings in pots of dampened, loose, light-weight potting mix with the top set or two of leaves sticking out. Some people dip the cut ends in a powdered rooting hormone (available at most garden centers) to encourage rooting. Then keep the potting mix consistently damp. Within a few weeks, roots should emerge, signaling the birth of a new plant. See George's video on how to start new plants from cuttings You'll know it's worked if you see the leaves growing and if the cutting gives you some resistance when you give it a light tug. You'll know it didn't work if weeks go by and the stems and leaves wilt. And when you give a cutting a tug, it'll slide right out with no roots. Read George's article on how to make your own free plants Plan your moves If this is how your yard is looking, now through the end of October is a good time to assess and make changes.George Weigel  Rather than look around for something to prune, use September as a month to assess how things went this year and to think about what changes you'd like to make for next year. September and October are good months for transplanting most plants as well as planting new ones. Fall-transplant exceptions are plants that are borderline cold-hardy (crape myrtles, cherry laurels, osmanthus and nandina, for example) and ones that are blooming (better moved in spring when out of bloom). Take a walk around the yard, and make note of plants that are struggling, those that need to be divided or reined in, and those that just would look better in another location in the landscape. That'll give you a "move list" so you can plan and/or clear new locations. September through mid-October are excellent months for digging new beds, too. Once you start moving things, that often sets off a chain reaction in which a moved plant creates a hole for another plant, which can necessitate another move, which opens a hole there, and so on and so on. Most plants transplant better than you might think, especially if you limit root damage, get dug-up plants in their new holes ASAP, and keep moved plants consistently watered. Read George's article on "transplantaphobia" for a how-to on moving plants Read George's article on "Chain reaction time" Don't feel bad if it seems like you're constantly rearranging plants. It's part of gardening. Think of it as "editi[...]

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