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Taking herb cuttings16 August 2011
Get fresh stocks ready for next year with this simple cutting method, says Michelle.
Now is a great time to take cuttings from herbs before the summer finishes. Plants should have lots of fresh new growth at this stage in the season, giving you plenty of material to work with.
If you are new to taking cuttings, herbs are easy candidates, making them great starter plants and confidence builders when it comes to trying softwood stem tip cuttings for the first time. Taken now, cuttings should be rooted in time for Christmas, so could act as a cheap, natural present for friends and family.
Removal of the cuttings material will also act as a form of pinching out, allowing the parent plant to bush out and produce more new growth for next year. So if you have a herb container or border, get among your plants this weekend and give this simple cuttings technique a try. Take cuttings early in the morning when plants are at their most turgid.
1 Use secateurs to remove 4-6in (10-15cm) lengths of stem tip, cutting just above a leaf node (where leaf joins stem). Remove the lower leaves from the cutting and make a new cut with a sharp, clean knife just below a node.
2 Fill a 5in (13cm) pot with seed and cutting compost, adding perlite or grit for drainage. Make five small holes with a dibber around the edge of the pot, ready to pop the cuttings in. Dip the ends of the cuttings in rooting hormone powder.
3 Place the cuttings into the small holes and gently firm around their bases, Do not allow the leaves to touch the compost and do not insert different plant cuttings into the same pot; different plants root at different times and would make potting-on difficult.
4 Water the cuttings using a fine rose and place a plastic bag over them, or place the pot in a propagator. Position in a bright spot out of direct sunlight, aiming for a temperature of about 68f (20c).
Herbs to take cuttings from this month Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Lemon verbena, Hyssop,
Ongoing care - Check for signs of fungal growth, if seen re-pot cuttings in fresh compost to stop it spreading. Check moisture levels daily, do not allow the compost to dry out.
To check if cuttings have rooted properly, look underneath for signs of roots sticking out of the base, and new growth on top. Or gently tug cutting tops - resistance means rooting has occurred Pot on using a good quality free-draining compost and place in a sunny outdoor spot. Place in a protected environment such as a cold frame or greenhouse over the winter months.