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AND CHEERFUL WAYS WITH CUTTINGS"
(FROM THE SPRING 2011 NEWSLETTER)
This year the competition plants
were even bigger than last year so they have supplied us with
thirty cuttings to grow on for sale. So far all appear to have taken
successfully They are planted in well-soaked vermiculite and stand
in a shallow tray with a small amount of water. Not shown here -
the old propagator cover which is used to maintain a humid
atmosphere .Although it doesn’t completely fit it is sufficient for
These cuttings (left) were taken at the
beginning of the month and will hopefully be ready to pot on in real
compost in about three to four weeks. The vermiculite simply
provides support and moisture for rooting. The tray is not allowed
to dry out.
On the right
is a variation on the same theme using an old
washing-up bowl. In this case the cuttings have been left uncovered
although it is possible that the whole outfit could have been
covered with clingfilm or placed in a large transparent plastic bag.
It would then have needed regular checks to ensure that botrytis
Rooting in vermiculite ensures that the medium
takes up just the right amount of moisture. All watering comes on
demand from below. It does, however, mean that the resulting roots
will be rather tender so extra care must be taken when potting on. Another possible drawback is that the roots will not hold so
much of their original vermiculite when moved on as it falls away
more easily than actual compost would. This is not necessarily a bad
thing as then they are not surrounded by non-nutritious material in
their new home.
On the left
cuttings are grouped together under a commercial plastic bell jar
which can be obtained quite inexpensively from some garden centres
in packs of three. These can be used again and again and are well
worth the original outlay as they are so versatile. The larger
version fits nicely over a five inch pot and makes a nursery for one
plant or a whole host of seedlings. There is also a smaller version
on the market. However. clear yoghurt tubs can serve equally well if
a small hole is punched in the top for ventilation. Upended these
fit snugly over the smaller pots.
When the cuttings are ready to
be moved on a handy idea is to put them in old polystyrene boxes
saved from trips to the local nursery. These pack quite closely
together to save valuable space and yet are not too close too allow
essential air movement between the plants. It is helpful to be able
to move six plants around at a time. Grown in polystyrene the
cuttings are liable to dry out quite quickly so regular watering is
necessary from above.
These are just a few of the ways
cuttings can be grown successfully. Every grower will have their own
tried and tested methods and labour-saving devices. It has been said
that fuchsia cuttings will grow if they are accidentally dropped on
the greenhouse floor! Maybe things are not quite that simple but
they are tough little blighters with a strong will to live and
thrive. It is not necessary to fuss over them as this can often be
the worst possible thing for their well-being. Give your cuttings a
comfortable home with the right amount of light and water and it is
difficult to go wrong. They will not know if it’s an expensive
electric propagator or an upturned coffee jar. Growing fuchsias need
not cost a great deal of money and swapping or selling healthy
cuttings can be a great way of recouping some of your expenses.
LOVE THE ELEPHANT IN YOUR GARDEN
I was lucky enough this year to find elephant hawk moth caterpillars
on my fuchsias. Yuck! I hear you say. Stamp on the nasty beasts
before they eat all your plants. But I didn’t. I watched them grow
and marvelled at their amazing peacock-eye patterns as they chomped
happily on the green leaves. They grew as big as my index finger
before one day they just vanished. Like most hawk moth larvae they
had buried themselves in the soil ready to pupate, where they will
stay safely through the winter till summer comes again.
My Dreamcatcher plant now bears a label “Elephant hawks!” to remind
me not to repot or use Provado on it. I know that next summer on
warm July evenings my garden will be haunted by glorious rare pink
moths nearly as big as the palm of my hand. And I will still have my
fuchsia plant putting out fresh green leaves for the next
generation of caterpillars. As for folks who advocate the green
wellie treatment—all you will have is a dusty cup on the mantelpiece
for your precious fuchsia, a slimy boot and a nasty mess on the
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