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 Plant Propargation

on a

Need to Know Basis

February 2019


Guy Barker

Plant Propagation on a Need to Know Basis

For our February meeting we welcomed back Guy Barker who last visited us in February 2018.

Otherwise known as the Naked Gardner, Guy gained his alias by advocating a pared down approach to the subject free of, as he sees it, unnecessary complications. Guy trained to be a garden designer at the Otley College of Agriculture and Horticulture. Rather than designing from behind a computer he prefers to work ‘in the field’. He no longer works at Berckles Hall, but together with several new ventures, still maintains the garden of the grade II Old Vicarage at Shropham. He has returned to work at Shelfanger rectory, the first job he had fourteen years ago. Last year he told us some little known facts about snowdrops; this time he covered the various methods of plant propagation.

By far the simplest form of propagation is by division. Simply dig it up, pull it apart into suitable sized plants and then replant. The advantage of this over the use of seed is that all the plants will be genetically identical; what you had originally will be what you get from the daughter plants. Plants like geraniums with fine roots need to be replanted as soon as possible so as not to dry out. On the other hand, plants with fleshy roots, like Solomon’s seal, require the cut root to be left to callus for a day or two to avoid infection. When dividing, each plant should have at least one growth point.



Another propagation method is by taking root cuttings. The plant specimen Guy used for his demonstration was one from the genus Acanthus. Select a healthy root and cut lengths of about three inches. When cutting the root into lengths it is helpful to cut the lower end at an angle to ensure the correct orientation when replanting. Add a little rooting compound to the base and plant upright in a gritty medium. New roots will grow from the base. When these develop leaves they can be separated and planted out. Unfortunately one member wanted to know how one might kill aforesaid Acanthus. It was felt that this club member was not really entering into the spirit of the moment and she was severely taken to task when I got her home.

Taking hardwood cuttings was demonstrated using several varieties of Cornus or dogwood. Take any stem, discard the flowering section and cut into lengths of about a foot. Add a growth hormone to the base and plant several in a pot. Plant out when the root system has developed. During this demonstration Guy produced a fair number of cuttings, which he offered to members. Incidentally, members were dissuaded from the practice of surreptitiously taking cuttings from other peoples gardens during visits.

Throughout his talk Guy was asked many questions, a good indication that members were finding the topic interesting. For example, revisiting his galanthophilic topic of last year, moving snowdrops ‘in the green’, is best carried out when the leaves are actually - yellow.


Competition results for February.



1 Hazel Dunn.

2 Jane Dalton.

3 Sue Cunningham.



1 Hazel Dunn.

2 Jane Dalton.

3 Chris Dalton.



1 Ed Szczepanowski.

2 Jane Dalton.

3 Hazel Dunn.


Our Next indoor meeting will be on Wednesday 13thof March. Ian Bedford will be telling us about those wonderful creatures, butterflies.






Page Last Updated - 23/02/2019
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