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Bedding plants for free13 June 2011
Cuttings of summer bedding will give great displays in 2012, says Kris
I bet you’ll have at least a few fuchsias and pelargoniums in your summer displays, more likely tens of them. Large specimens of both may cost £6 each at the garden centre at this time of year, a high price for a plant that will be killed off by autumn frosts. Cheaper, but smaller, pack plants will flower soon after planting but by the time they’ve reached an impressive size, the season will nearly be gone.
If you want large plants at little cost for the start of the 2012 summer bedding season, take cuttings now from the plants already in your garden.
Traditionally these cuttings are taken in August until autumn, but starting now will allow you to revisit the parent plants several times through the season, for masses of plants for use next year. You’ll have to protect your new plants over winter, but the money saved on buying new plants next year will outweigh the cost of running a greenhouse heater. If you can keep plants indoors extra heating costs are removed as you can rely on your central heating.
There’s one standard way to take pelargonium cuttings (see steps below). With fuchsias there are a couple of different cuttings you can try. Five cuttings can go into a 5in (13cm) pot of seed and cutting compost. I have some coir pellets left over from earlier seed sowing so I’m inserting one cutting into each. These will be potted up as roots appear at the sides of the pellet.
Quick tip - Try these cutting methods with other summer bedding varieties
Tip cuttings: Remove three leaf sets from stem tips, then remove lower leaves and cut below the second leaf join, before inserting into compost]
Stem cuttings: Take a whole stem and dissect into sections with 1/2in (1cm) of stem each side of a pair of leaves
Pelargonium cuttings using coir pellets
Step by step
1 Pour tepid water around the coir pellets and allow them to soak and fluff up to size. Once fully formed pour away excess water from the tray. Alternatively fill 5in (13cm) pots with cutting compost and water thoroughly.
2 Using a clean sharp knife, remove non-flowering shoots just above the third leaf joint. Keep in a plastic bag if not using immediately. Cut off leaves, leaving two at the top, then cut the base of the cutting back to just below the lowest leaf joint.
3 Make 1in (2.5cm) deep holes in each pellet, or on compost surface, insert cutting and firm in. Cover with a propagator lid (more important for the fuchsia cuttings) and place in a bright warm spot out of full sun. Water once a week, roots may form within two weeks.