BRIAN KIDD: Boost your collection of pelargoniums by taking cuttings.

Pelargoniums

Pelargoniums

Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

BRIAN KIDD: on how to save polyanthus and potted roses

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Geraniums were wonderful this summer because they enjoyed the hot sunshine.

If you are like us, you’ll have some favourite varieties and would like to take cuttings.

This is the ideal time to get them to root.

If cuttings are taken at this time of year, geraniums – or pelargoniums to give them their proper name – will root quickly and are far less likely to rot at the base.

This disease is a fungal one called Black Leg. Sounds awful? It is. There is no cure.

Cuttings are taken off the parent plant carefully, using sharp secateurs and the cuts are made just above a leaf joint (node). This will ensure fungi will not travel down the cut stem causing the parent plant to rot off.

The cuttings to be propagated need to be about four to five inches long.

All the leaves should be removed by bending them down so they snap off the stem.

Only the top two leaves and the tip should be left and all the tiny green scales on the stems must be removed with a sharp knife. If they are not they often rot and cause the stem to die.

The most important cut is the final one which consists of cutting the base of the cutting.

It needs to be done with a very sharp knife or razor blade and should be about an eighth-of-an-inch below the lowest node, making a sharp cut straight across the stem.

The compost needs to be very sandy. Any universal compost or John Innes seed compost may be used, but add 50 per extra sharp sand or potting sand and mix well.

Three cuttings are normally inserted around the edge of a five-inch diameter pot so the foliage doesn’t touch.

After filling the pots, scatter more sand over the surface so when the cuttings are inserted sand will fall into the hole made by your dibber.

The cuttings must be firmly inserted.

When I was an apprentice our head gardener would take hold of a cutting, lift the pot off the bench and if the pot fell off, you had to insert the cuttings all over again. The pots were watered after this test.

The pots of cuttings will root best if they are in a greenhouse covered with a sheet of newspaper.

Don’t put them in a propagator as they prefer not to be kept in a humid atmosphere.

They should root in three weeks and when that happens, remove the tips to ensure the cuttings will be bushy.

Now plant each cutting into a three-inch diameter pot to over-winter in a frost-free greenhouse.

You may have noticed no rooting powder was mentioned.

I normally tell people to use it if it makes them feel more confident!

TIP OF THE WEEK

Try to buy some colchicum bulbs for the grandchildren.

Put one in an egg cup on their bedroom windowsill and in a short while a beautiful water lily-like flower will appear.

Afterwards plant them in the garden and they will naturalise, producing lovely blooms each autumn.

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