Volume 15, Issue 1 ~ January 4 - January 10, 2007

The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin

Multiply Your Plants

Early winter’s the time to begin new forsythia and more

Growing your landscape doesn’t have to cost money. You can take cuttings from your own plants and grow new individuals. Start hardwood cuttings now, in early winter.

Certain species — including forsythia, weigela, pussy willow, privet, weeping willow, climbing roses and oriental sycamore — can be propagated in the backyard from stems that grew last summer. Age is important, so make your cuttings from stems that grew in 2006.

To prep your hardwood cuttings, select stems that grew at least two to three feet in length this past summer. Cut the stems into pieces eight to 10 inches long. Keep all of the cuttings oriented in the same direction. Each cutting should contain at least four visible buds.

Bundle the cuttings with string or rubber bands for easy handling, then place the bundles in a plastic bag with a piece of wet paper towel and seal the bag. Place the bundles upside down in a refrigerator or an area where they will not freeze but will remain cold until mid- to late-February.

At that time, you’ll plant your cuttings. Plant in a well-drained area with ready soil, such as the garden. Stick the hardwood cuttings in the ground right side up, leaving only one or two vegetative buds above ground. For extra weed control, first lay black plastic on the prepared ground and push the cuttings through the plastic into the soil. The black plastic not only controls the weeds, but also keeps the soil moist. Anchor the edges of the plastic to prevent it from lifting the cuttings out of the soil.

Come May, watch for new growth appearing from the above-ground buds. Allow the plants to grow in place all summer long before transplanting them in early fall.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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