Gardening: Cuttings

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Weekend work

MANY indoor plants can now be sent outside for a holiday which, if you set them in a place away from upsetting winds, they seem to find invigorating. Ivies benefit particularly from an outdoor season.

All my begonias are in a cool, shady spot outside the back door, where they replace pots of withering tulips. And, if you want to increase your stock of indoor plants, take cuttings from Begonia rex, gloxinia and streptocarpus.

I have recently been planting up another old cracked washstand bowl with the bits of tradescantia, spider plant, begonia, ivy and other rooted cuttings that have been hanging around in pots without a home. Not only do they look better growing together, they also seem to thrive on it.

Now is also the time to cut out some old branches of shrubs such as Rubus Tridel 'Benenden' that have finished flowering. I generally cut out as many branches as there are new strong shoots coming up from the base. If there is none, cut out some branches anyway. This will encourage new growth.

Dead-head roses regularly, to keep them flowering prolifically. Deal with suckers where they arise and remove them before they get dominant. They will start at the base of the shrub, springing from the rootstock or from a damaged root of the rootstock, and usually have foliage like a wild briar. Tearing them away is said to be more effective than cutting. If the sucker is stubborn, trace it to its starting point and cut it there.

Take cuttings from shrubs such as evergreen azaleas, ceanothus and hebe and from alpines such as the late flowering Gentiana septemfida and the evergreen candytuft, Iberis sempervirens. Herbs such as tarragon and savory can be cut back hard if they are getting straggly. They will soon produce fresh growth.

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