The Propagation Of Plants
By dividing--By cuttings--By seeds--By layers.
=Propagation may be affected in various ways=, of which division is
perhaps the easiest. It must be done very carefully, or decay will set in.
Some plants lend themselves to this form of propagation very readily; in
root stock is single and obviously resents division, wherefore
it is better to try another plan. The Michaelmas daisies are good
instances of the first kind; their roots are fibrous, and soon take to the
new soil; it is tap-rooted plants which dislike division so much.
=CAREFUL DIVISION.= It is advisable to divide most plants in the growing
season, which is from spring to early autumn; if it is done in the winter
months, each piece frequently remains quite inert and eventually rots. The
plant should be taken up, with a fork by preference, and then pulled
carefully apart with the hand. =The smallest fragment of the old white
anemone will grow=, but few plants will stand quite so much division. Each
piece should be well watered as it is planted, and if the sun is hot some
shade improvised. Such things as delphiniums, phloxes, campanulas,
and quick-growing subjects in general, should not be left too long without
being divided, or the flowers will dwindle, and the plants become
straggling in habit.
A good many plants which might be propagated by =division= of the roots
are propagated instead by cuttings, as the flowers come finer in every
way, and of course this method suits many plants which cannot be divided.
Chrysanthemums present few difficulties; though the ultimate growth of
this Japanese plant entails a vast amount of labour (if prizes are the
object in view), yet cuttings from them are the easiest things possible to
strike, even easier than a geranium, as there is no damping off. =Cuttings
are generally struck under glass=, this method being the surest, even with
hardy plants. The shoots selected should be well ripened, and the cut made
squarely below a joint and be =taken with a "heel"= if possible, that is,
with a piece of the old wood attached. All but the topmost leaves should
be pinched off, and then the cuttings must be inserted round the sides of
the pot, and the soil well pressed down,--the best cuttings in the world
cannot make roots unless this be attended to. After that a good watering
should be given them, and the pots set in a shady place till they have
emitted roots, which may be known by the fact of their beginning to make
new leaves. Some cuttings root better when the cut is allowed to form a
"callus," which in warm weather only takes a few hours.
=Rose cuttings= root very well out of doors on a north border, and trees
produced in this manner are often very satisfactory, but they take a long
while to come to a flowering stage, somewhat trying the patience of ardent
One can gradually get quite a nice collection of interesting plants, by
striking all the likely shoots in the different bunches of flowers
received from friends, but it is generally best to identify them as soon
as possible, so as to give each the right treatment.
=Propagation by seed= is quite a fascinating employment, and is a
successful method, if pains are taken; though so many amateurs seem to
fail. I have found it the safest plan, with all except the largest seeds,
to bring them up under glass. Even the hardiest can be treated in this
way, and one feels so much more sure of the result. For one thing, birds
cannot get at them, therefore there is no need to make a network of black
cotton to keep them off; neither can the cat meddle with them, and we all
know pussy is a very bad gardener.
=The pans= specially sold for the purpose are the best, but pots will do
very well. Fill them with fine moist soil, and press firmly down; then
scatter the seed thinly on the top, and only cover with a slight layer of
soil, afterwards placing in a dark corner. Where the seed is very small,
do not cover with any mould at all, but, as an extra protection, place a
piece of cardboard over the top of the pot, so that they shall not be
blown away. =Seeds like a still atmosphere=, moisture, warmth, and
darkness. Seeds and seedlings must not be watered in the ordinary way, but
the pan containing them should be placed in a saucer of water, when enough
moisture will be drawn up by capillary attraction. Thinning is extremely
necessary; every plant must be given room to attain its full dimensions;
where this is not done, the result is most unsatisfactory. As regards the
=time for sowing=, of course, spring is the most usual, but in the case of
annuals it will often be found a good plan to sow a few in autumn, as, by
pursuing this method, nice stocky little plants are ready for the garden
quite early in the season, and give flowers long before spring-sown seed
could possibly do so.
=Propagation by layering= is very useful, as cuttings of some plants will
not strike readily. Strong shoots are denuded of their leaves for a few
inches, and their stems slit up and pressed into the ground by means of a
peg; when firmly rooted, they can be detached from the parent plant by
means of a penknife. Carnations are generally reproduced in this way, as
it is the surest method of all.
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