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:
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”:
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 “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.
Having removed “Widecombe Fair” from my improvised propagator (an old, small fish tank turned upside down!) in the coldframe, I felt it was time to fill it with lots more cuttings:
from left to right we have “Mrs Sinkins”, “Ruby”, “Doris” and “Gran’s Favourite” all done in exactly the same way as my original pot of “Widecombe Fair”. And here they are in situ:
(note to self: clean out coldframe!)
If they all take I’ll have over 35 plants – plus the parents! – to put…somewhere.
I certainly know that 7 have taken because I turned out the “Widecombe Fair” cuttings this afternoon to find they all had roots:
I’ve potted them up into 9cm square pots of multi-purpose compost with a bit of the rooting mix, watered them well and placed them back in the shady coldframe to settle in. I also nipped out the growing point on each one – I forgot to do it when preparing the cuttings – so that they will form bushier plants.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
You can use rooting hormone if you wish, but I don’t find it necessary for most subjects.
The finished pot:
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!