Weekend Work: Time to take root cuttings

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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 between 2-5cm 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 50mm 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 see

Lovers of hellebores can book a visit to the famous Ashwood Nurseries, in the West Midlands, where on 19 Jan and 9 Feb (12-3.30pm) owner John Massey will be giving guided tours of his extensive winter garden. Tickets cost £15.95. To book, call 01384 401996 or go to the website at ashwoodnurseries.com.