Heathers

An extremely prolific and relatively easy way to propagate heathers is from cuttings.

The season to do this is summer, although the exact timing depends upon the availability of non-flowering shoots from which to make the cuttings.

Do not take cuttings from shoots with flower buds that have set because rooting may well be slow and poor, especially for winter-flowering heathers. However summer-flowering heathers can be propagated from shoots that have already flowered, should non-flowering shoots be scarce.

Prune a plant during the dormant season to encourage strong, vigorous shoots.

Make up some cuttings compost of equal volumes lime-free grit and sifted sphagnum moss peat. It is imperative that the peat is sifted and all lumps removed, otherwise later on the rooted cuttings will be difficult to separate without damage.

Choose a container appropriate to the number of cuttings to be taken, allowing f in between cuttings. A separate container should be used for each variety as varieties will root at different rates.

Fill the container with the compost and firm with a presser board to within f in of the container rim.

Cut off a 1-1 £ in vegetative shoot with a pair of sharp scissors. Remove the leaves on the lower part of the cutting. The cutting is then ready to be planted as there is no need to apply a rooting hormone.

Make a hole with a thin dibber to half the depth of the cutting, which is then inserted. Plant any remaining cuttings f in apart. Label; then water with a dilute fungicidal solution, using a fine rose. Do not firm by hand.

Place the container of cuttings in a protected environment. Quickest rooting will occur if there is bottom heat and high humidity, for example in a mist unit. A well-sealed cold frame, shaded in the summer and insulated with matting in the winter, will suit just as well, although rooting of late-season cuttings may not occur until the spring.

Harden off the rooted cuttings and pot on in spring. Take special care when knocking out the cuttings and teasing them apart, so that minimal damage is done to the roots. Label the new plants clearly.

4 Make a hole with a thin dibber to half the depth of the cutting, which is then planted.

5 Plant the remaining cuttings fin apart. Label; then water with a fungicide, using a fine rose.

6 Place the container of cuttings in a protected environment.

1 Prune a plant during the dormant season to induce vigorous shoots.

2 Mix equal parts lime-free grit and sifted sphagnum moss peat and place in a container.

7 Harden off the cuttings gradually once they have rooted.

8 Pot on in spring. Take special care of the roots, which are easily damaged.

3 Cut off a 1-11 in vegetative shoot. Remove the leaves on the lower part of the cutting.

WHEN TO TAKE CUTTINGS

late May to early July

Erica x darleyensis E. erigena (mediterranea) E. herbacea (carnea)

late June to early August

Erica vagans

July to August

Erica arborea E. australis E. iusitanica E. x veitchii

August to September

Daboecia cantabrica Erica ciliaris E. cinerea E. tetralix E. x watsonii late August to early October

Call una vulgaris

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