Weekend Work: It's time to take root cuttings

What to do

Several different herbaceous plants such as papery flowered romneya, oriental poppies, anchusas, perennial verbascums and gaillardias are most easily propagated by root cuttings. This month is the time to take them. Dig up the clump you want to increase, chop up the roots into pieces 3-6cm in length and push the cuttings vertically (right end up) into pots full of a sandy light compost. If you make the top cuts at a slant and the bottom cuts straight across, it helps remind you which is which when you are setting the root cuttings in their pots. Cuttings of romneya and gaillardia are best laid thinly over the surface of a tray of compost and then covered with another layer of compost about a half centimetre thick. Put the pots and trays in the greenhouse (or a cold frame) and keep them watered but not drowned. There will not be much action for several months, but by early June, you should have young plants sturdy enough to be grown on in a nursery bed.

What to try

Have you got what it takes to be a garden designer? There's one way to find out. Try it. NS&I are sponsoring three gardens at the BBC 'Gardener's World Live' show in June and are looking for new talent. Designs must fit into a plot 25m square and must reflect modern ways of growing fruit and veg. The winning designers will each get £5,000 to build their dream gardens at the NEC in Birmingham. The deadline for entries is 23 January. Download application forms from nsandi.com/rhs

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