Semiripe woods

During the late summer, annual stem growth slows down and plant stems become harder. Cuttings taken at this time are called semi-ripe cuttings. As they are thicker and harder than softwood cuttings, they are more capable of survival. However they are still susceptible to the same problems of water loss because the cuttings carry leaves.

Semi-ripe cuttings have relatively high levels of stored food and can therefore survive and produce roots in poor light.

Many deciduous plants, such as deutzias, that root fairly easily are propagated from semi-ripe cuttings, and some evergreen plants can also be increased in this way.

Prune the parent plant at the start of the dormant season, so that strong, fast-grown stems are available for propagation the following season. These will have a greater ability to produce roots than unpruned stems.

Prepare the soil in the cold frame by digging deeply. Add peat and grit to improve drainage and its water-holding capacity. Cover the surface with a 1 in layer of fine (builder's) sand to make a better rooting medium. If only a few cuttings are to be taken, fill a container with cuttings compost and cover with a 1 in layer of fine sand. ♦

Take semi-ripe cuttings from a main stem with all the current season's growth or from side-shoots if the main stem has feathered growth, that is a series of small side-shoots growing on the main stem.

Remove the tip of the stem if it is soft, but leave it if the apical bud has set and growth has ceased for the year. Shorten the cutting with secateurs to 4-6 in long, depending on the vigour of the particular plant.

Cut off the lower leaves flush with the stem so that about 2 in of stem is clear at the base.

Treat the basal cut surface with a rooting hormone powder. The strength for semi-ripe cuttings is 0.4 per cent iba.

Make a hole with a dibber in the soil in a cold frame. Plant the cutting about in deep, so its base just enters the soil below the sand layer. Space the cuttings as close as is feasible, but this is not likely to be much less than 3-4 in apart. Label them clearly.

Water in the cuttings using a dilute fungicidal solution; this also firms the sand around the cutting. Close the frame tightly and shade it to prevent the leaves from scorching. Air the cold frame from the lower end if the temperature rises above 27°C/80°F. Water sufficiently to rewet and develop high humidity should conditions become dry.

As semi-ripe cuttings are usually deciduous, they will drop their leaves in autumn. At this stage remove all the fallen leaves from the frame so that they do not rot and cause disease.

4 Shorten the cutting to 4-6 in. Cut the leaves off the bottom 2 in of the stem.

5 Treat the basal cut surface with some rooting hormone. Dibble in a cutting in deep.

6 Plant the remaining cuttings 3-4 in apart. Label and water with a fungicide. Seal and shade the frame.

nrfiir pmnii mai i «an up v'^wiiiiq, pnwvmni *—i*

pr<t|MK«iPil Iront «emi rip* hiuyllil.i culling«

  • iiii.iiil lliiwprllig Plum, < "IiiuipiHmI '
  • vul/i.1 VVi'igr<la

Diervilli i

Insulate the frame with matting once the leaves have fallen to protect the cuttings against frost in winter. Once the cuttings have no leaves, light is not necessary for the plants to manufacture food and so the matting can be left in place all the time.

Rooting may start fairly quickly if the weather is mild; otherwise it will occur during the late winter or spring.

Leave the rooted cuttings in situ during the following growing season. Feed them regularly with a liquid fertilizer and water when dry. Remove insulation and air the cold frame by raising its lid during the day as soon as the danger of frost is over. Eventually remove it altogether. Lift the new plants and transplant them after leaf-fall in the autumn. Label the new plants clearly.

1 Prune the parent plant at the start of the dormant season to encourage strong stems to grow.

2 Prepare the soil in the cold frame by digging deeply. Add peat and grit. Cover with 1 in fine sand.


3 Cut off a shoot with all its current season's growth in late summer. Remove the tip only if it is soft.

7 Rewet the soil if it dries. Remove any fallen leaves. Insulate the cold frame with matting.

8 Remove the insulation and air the frame once the danger of frost is over. Apply a routine liquid feed.

9 Lift the new plants and transplant them once their leaves have dropped in autumn. Label them clearly.

Evergreens 1

Sumí- (ilaiil* |irii|idg«lt>il Iront ( cjniif/un rvrrurrrii iiillliigi ( hiMiy l.iurel

Am utj* D.tphne

/ m ¿llama l'oituKucsc laurel

I vergreen honeysuckle l'yrjcjntha //»•be

The propagation of evergreen trees and shrubs from stem cuttings is a traditional and valuable method. Evergreen cuttings are taken from stems of very ripe wood, that is, almost hard wood. They cannot be regarded as hardwood cuttings as they are not leafless and are not fully dormant because of their evergreen habit. Because they have leaves, they need sufficient environmental control to prevent excessive water loss.

In winter, prune the parent plant from which the cuttings are to be made. This will encourage the development of strong, vigorous, fast-grown shoots that have the required high capacity to produce roots.

Propagate evergreen cuttings during late summer to early autumn; rooting will normally take place during winter. However, evergreen plants can be propagated from softer wood earlier in the growing season. Treat these cuttings according to the condition (soft wood, green wood or semi-ripe wood) of their stems.

Prepare the soil in a cold frame by digging thoroughly and mixing in grit, peat and sand.

Evergreen cuttings taken in late summer should be 4-6 in long, although their length must be related to the normal size of the plant and the amount of annual growth. Cuttings from dwarf Hebe, for example, may be only in long. Take a heel with the cutting (see page 63) if it is to be propagated in unsterilized soil in a cold frame or polythene tunnel. Neaten any tail on the heel.

Leave on the cutting any terminal bud that may have set. If, however, growth is continuing, cut out the soft tip with a knife.

Strip any leaves off the bottom third to half of the cutting. Make a shallow vertical wound about 1 in long in the bottom of the stem of plants, such as Daphne, Elaeagnus and Magnolia grandiflora, that are difficult to root.

Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone powder of ripewood strength (0.8 per cent iba). Ensure the wound is covered with the powder.

To make more economical use of space, reduce the size of large leaves by cutting off up to half of each leaf-blade with a sharp pair of scissor-type secateurs.

Make a hole with a dibber in the prepared soil in the cold frame and plant the cutting up to its leaves. Allow the leaves of cuttings to touch but not to overlap. If leaves overlap excessively they tend to stick together with a water film, and this provides an ideal place for rotting to develop.

Label the cuttings and water them with a dilute solution of fungicide. Close the lid of the cold frame as tightly as possible. Shade the frame by painting it with a proprietary lime-wash or by covering it with mesh, in order to reduce temperature fluctuation during the day and so prevent scorching. Remove the shading once light intensity and day length decreases during the autumn. If watering is necessary, incorporate a fungicide to help control rots.

Inspect the frame regularly and remove any fallen leaves and dead cuttings. Cover the frame with matting as insulation as long as there is any danger from frost.

Leave the cuttings in situ for the whole growing season. Transplant in autumn, taking considerable care when lifting the cuttings as many evergreen plants produce fairly thick, fleshy and brittle roots. Label the new plants clearly.

1 Prune the parent plant in winter to encourage strong shoots.

2 Dig the soil in a cold frame thoroughly. Mix in grit, peat and sand.

3 Take a heel cutting in late summer from a stem of the current season's growth.


Prune the parent plant in winter. In late summer, fill a container with cuttings compost. Then take a cutting about 4-6 in long from the current season's growth. Pinch out any soft growing tip. At the bottom, make a nodal cut.

Strip any leaves off the bottom third of the cutting and make a shallow vertical wound on plants that are difficult to root. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone.

Cut down the size of large leaves. Make a hole with a dibber in the compost and insert the cutting. Plant any more cuttings, allowing the leaves just to touch. Label and water with a fungicide. Place in a mist unit or closed case.

Ensure the cuttings do not become too wet as over the winter poor light and low temperatures do not dry out composts quickly. Harden them off gradually once the cuttings have rooted. Pot on very carefully in spring and label.

1 Fill a container with 2 Cut a stem £ in below a 3 Treat the stem with cuttings compost. Firm to node. Pinch out any tip. hormone and plant it.

f in below the rim. Remove the lower leaves. Place in a mist unit.

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