It is perfectly possible to buy all the plants for your garden but it can be rewarding to grow some of them yourself. There is a variety of reasons for doing this:
– It is by far the cheapest way of stocking your garden.
– If you choose the right plants and methods it is straightforward and need not take up much space.
– You can grow exactly the plants you want and not what the garden centre dictates. All nurseries, garden centres and mailorder companies have a much wider range of seeds than plants.
– Once you get started it is extremely satisfying and many people find propagation completely addictive!
If you become keen on propagation, there is a wealth of specialist information available. Here we simply describe the main types of propagation and show you how to get started with the easiest methods to see if you enjoy it.
– Seed sowing is a good way of raising many annuals, biennials, vegetables and some perennials. It can also be used for trees and shrubs, but this is very slow. Seeds you buy should be what they say they are, but if you collect your own seeds the results may be less predictable because not all plants come true from seed. For example, if you plant four pips from a single apple you will end up with four completely different trees, each bearing totally different fruit.
– Division is mainly used to increase the health and quantity of perennials. Basically, the plant is dug up and divided into smaller parts, which are then replanted to form new plants.
– Cuttings can be taken from trees, shrubs and perennials and are particularly useful if you want to reproduce a plant exactly. Depending on the plants, you can take cuttings from roots, hardwood stems, softwood stems or leaf shoots but the principle is always the same: part of the plant is cut off, takes root and forms a new plant exactly the same as the parent.
– Layering is a good technique for shrubs with branches that grow close to the ground. It involves burying part of a branch attached to the main plant under the soil to encourage it to grow roots. Some plants, such as ivy, will layer themselves. Once the new roots have established themselves, the branch can be cut off from the main stem and thus a new plant is formed.
– Grafting is a method whereby two plants are joined together. It is often used for fruit trees, which do not come true from seed. Depending on the rootstock you use, it enables you to influence the final size of the tree.