BRIAN KIDD: Charity begins at the cuttings sale

Forsythia - why not grow your own from a cutting?

Forsythia - why not grow your own from a cutting?

Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

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Do you like propagating plants? Lots of people do this and believe it or not this is a good time to take hardwood cuttings.

Have you a wonderful forsythia, a climbing rose, a camellia or a good rhododendron?

Would you love to get one of these to root to give to your best friend?

It’s not easy but if you follow this advice you’ll stand a good chance of getting the cuttings to root.

Autumn cuttings are called hardwood cuttings and these can be taken right now. The wood to be propagated needs to be about the thickness of a pencil and about 10-12in long. Examples are forsythia, rambling roses and cornus.

Here is the secret...

Remove all the leaves except the top frill. Make a clean cut just below a node (leaf joint) and insert the cuttings into the soil after using a top dressing of about a quarter of an inch of sharp sand over the soil’s surface.

The cuttings need to be inserted deeply. Leave only two inches of the cutting above the surface. If you live in a flat, insert the cuttings into a 10in diameter pot.

Camellia cuttings need not be 10-12in long. These root better if the cuttings are about six to eight inches long.

Instead of cutting below a node simply pull off a side shoot so it has a ‘heel’. You will see the heel has a slither of bark. Look at the back of the heel and you will see the central part has a heart-shaped woody part.

Using a sharp knife, cut off this excess skin back to that woody heart. Remove all the leaves apart from the top pair and the tip and insert the cuttings so the leaves are just above the surface of the compost.

Now soak the pot in rain water.

A polythene bag is then placed over the pot and cuttings ensuring the leaves don’t touch the polythene. Three short split canes can be used to form a kind of tent.

Camellia cuttings are best rooted in a cold greenhouse or if you have a plant propagator, this would be even better but is not essential.

What about hormone rooting powder? Use it if it makes you feel better!

Keep the cuttings moist and once they root – this will happen in early spring – pot each one into a three-inch diameter pot and plant them where you would like to see them grow – or perhaps you have a friend who would like one?

In spring, pot each one in a suitable pot in loamless compost and sell the plants, once they are full of roots, for your favourite charity?

What about a coffee morning? Friends will help you sell the plants and Queen Alexandra Hospital’s Rocky Appeal would love your support.

A lot of you wonderful readers back this appeal and it has been of great benefit to so many of you.

Well done and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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