Ann Wright: Hardwood in winter — Propagate cuttings
With a new year upon us, deciduous plants have lost most of their leaves. Winter rains have returned and many grasses are turning green in the surrounding landscape. This is a good time to look around outside and picture what would enhance your garden in the spring.
Perhaps additional bright yellow forsythia would balance a border, or maybe you would like to add to the pollinator plants in your yard with a butterfly bush (Buddelia).
Or perhaps there is a place for an additional treasured Rose of Sharon (Hybiscus syriacus).
Winter and early spring are good times to propagate hardwood cuttings.
Simply put, plant propagation is the process of increasing the number of plants of a particular type. Roses, dogwood and willow are other types of deciduous plants (loose leaves in winter) that can be started by cuttings.
Plant propagation is achieved via sexual and asexual methods.
The more traditional seed starting method (sexual) involves the combination of genetic material from the seeds of two pollinated flowers to create a new individual plant.
Asexual or vegetative propagation results in plants that are genetic copies of the parent plant; production of new plants comes from stems, leaves or roots of the parent plant.
Grapevines, figs, olives and pomegranates can be readily rooted using hardwood cuttings and have long been propagated this way.
Most other fruit and nut tree species will not form roots from hardwood stem cuttings, or will only do so with great difficulty.
The process of hardwood propagation involves choosing healthy, pest and disease free stems from last season’s growth and cutting a six to 20 inch section of the stem (not the tip).
The basal or bottom end of the cut stem is treated with a rooting hormone and placed in a growing medium until roots appear. Once roots appear the plants can be placed in pots or in the ground.
Nevada County Master Gardeners are starting a new season of public workshops.
“Plan it! Gardening 12 Months a Year” will be offered on Feb. 3.
On Feb. 10, “Making More Plants: Propagating Hardwood Cuttings” will be offered — so here is an opportunity to learn more about how to start new plants from hardwood cuttings.
Both workshops will be held at the Elk’s Lodge, 109 South School Street in Grass Valley. Workshops are from 10 a.m. to noon and are free of charge (donations appreciated).
Other tasks that can be done in January:
Feed orange, lemon and other citrus trees six to eight weeks before blooming. Regular fertilization with nitrogen is required for most mature citrus trees. Some nurseries recommend a nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K) ratio of 2-1-1.
January is a good time to prune deciduous flowering vines and roses. For plants that flower in spring, wait to prune until after blooming.
After leaves have fallen, clean up spent fruit, diseased cuttings and leaves. Spray dormant oil on all trees susceptible to mites, scale and aphids. (Spray the entire tree trunk, and spray when we have dry days in the weather forecast.)
For more information about upcoming events, or for other home garden related questions, call the Master Gardener Hotline at 530-273-0919, or access the “Got Questions?” link on the website at http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org .
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.
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