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Pinks cuttings – July update

Time for a look at my Pinks cuttings.

The first set I took was “Widecombe Fair” back in mid-May and they’ve been growing now for about 10 weeks:

widecombe-fair-cuttings-26-july

They’re still in their first pots and I shall have to start thinking about what I want to do with them fairly soon as they’ll be needing potting on before I know it!

The next lot are from my mid-June propagation. These are “Ruby”:

ruby-cuttings-26-july

Most are looking excellent with just one straggling along behind. I may keep the little ‘un, but it’s usually been my experience that such plants don’t come to much – we’ll see.

The other two lots I haven’t yet potted on:

mrs-sinkins-and-grans-favourite-26-july

“Mrs Sinkins” and “Gran’s Favourite” both took quite a bit longer to root than “Ruby” and to this point haven’t looked desperate to be moved on into individual pots, but I ought to do it soon before the roots get too thoroughly entangled with one another.

My cuttings of “Doris” (not pictured) have been the slowest of all to get going and are still in the coldframe, but I think I’ll be moving them out soon.

So there it is. Pinks strike so readily from cuttings that it’s easy to build up a good stock of them quite quickly: from my original 5 plants that I bought last year I will have produced – if all continues to go well – about 30 more, and I could easily have taken double the number of cuttings, so you can see why generations of cottage gardeners have chosen them as an economical way to edge paths and borders.

Pest watch and other musings…

Much as I love summer, it’s really hard work on the pest front: everywhere you turn, something is trying to chomp the living daylights out of your plants.

Last night when the rain had stopped I went out with a torch to see how many slugs and snails were about. First I looked at my Hosta “Frances Williams” which I grow in a pot rather than a border, pellet regularly (around the base of the pot and in the pot) and which I have heard named as one of the less appealing hostas to slugs and snails because of its thick leaves. So was it mollusc-free? Er, no. Five large snails and a couple of tiddlers were merrily munching away at the hosta that I thought was protected. Hmm.

Then I turned my attention to my Solomon’s Seal, also pelleted and also in a pot, but placed within a border, and that too was hosting several unwelcome slimy diners. I’ve always thought that it was sawfly grubs doing the bulk of the damage every summer, but this year I’ve kept it sawfly-free so now I know that slugs and snails are as much to blame, if not more so!

And in fact, they were all over the place: slithering over the paving, the gravel, the wooden water feature, the soil and, of course, the plants – it’s a wonder that there’s anything left by morning, to be honest!

The only good news is that thus far they are ignoring my copper-taped veg containers, although whether this is because the tape puts them off or because they simply haven’t found them yet I couldn’t say.*

Then there are the rose sawflies. Much of the soft new growth on my favourite roses seems to be sporting the tell-tale scarring left by the egg-laying activities of rose sawflies, so any moment the poor things will be crawling with grubs and, if I do nothing about it, virtually leafless by July. I foresee many happy hours of picking the little wretches off, oh joy!

We’re still patrolling our solitary pot of lilies for scarlet lily beetle, and still finding one or two from time to time, so if you have lilies you need to keep inspecting them regularly through the summer.

There haven’t been overwhelming numbers of aphids yet, so I suppose I should be thankful for that, but sometimes you wonder whether it wouldn’t just be easier to have concrete and astroturf instead! *sigh*

On a brighter note, the “Widecombe Fair” pink cuttings that I took just over 3 weeks ago seem to have rooted: I spied what looks like fresh new growth on them and an experimental tweak of each one tells me that they’re now anchored into the compost, so I’ve taken them out from under their glass cover to harden off before I pot them up individually.

Also, the 3 new primroses that I made from my single plant a few weeks back all seem to be doing well and making new leaves. I suppose I could plant them out any moment but I think I’ll leave them in my shaded coldframe for the time being – they’re probably safer there!

*Breaking News: just nipped out in darkness with my torch and there was a snail in my lettuce pot, so it doesn’t look like the copper tape is going to be much use. Fiddlesticks. Pellets it is, then…

Propagating Pinks from cuttings – step by step

Given this ridiculously early season we’re having, it is already time in my south of England garden to take cuttings of pinks; in fact, I’ve had my eye on them for that purpose for at least a couple of weeks!

First, I gather my materials:

compost-and-pot

A pot, sharp secateurs or a knife for trimming, and a compost mix of two parts multi-purpose compost and one part perlite.

Then I select the plant I’m intending to use, “Widecombe Fair” in this case:

pinks-before-cuttings

Lots of decent material here. I’m looking for what are known as “pipings” – short, non-flowering side shoots with strong and healthy-looking foliage located at or near the base of the plant.

The best time to take any cuttings is early morning when the tissues are still turgid from overnight. I select 7 shoots, carefully removing them from the plant by holding them at the base and pulling them down and away from the stem. This results in a little piece of the main stem coming with them, like so:

cuttings

The next job is to clean them up. I like to trim down the piece of residual main stem (“heel”) then take off the lower leaves and anything that looks like it might rot:

cleaned-cutting

You can pinch out the tip of each one at this stage too, although I often forget to do it! Then it’s just a case of making a small hole down the side of the pot and putting the cutting in:

2-inserted-cuttings

 

You can use rooting hormone if you wish, but I don’t find it necessary for most subjects.

The finished pot:

finished-cuttings

Pop a label in, water the cuttings in well (I use a watering can with a fine rose) and place it in a propagator or, in my case, in a clear plastic bag in the coldframe. In a few weeks time they should have rooted and I’ll have yet more plants that I really don’t have space for, lol!