How to propagate and groom your plants

The vast majority of plants can be grown from seed, and starting your own seeds, or buying commercially grown seedlings, are often the best ways to begin when you are growing annuals. However, several other methods of propagating plants provide faster and better ways of increasing your supply of perennials, bulbs and sometimes even shrubs. Here are some tips for propagating plants at home and grooming them once they've begun to grow.

How to propagate and groom your plants

Propagating Plants

Modern nurseries sometimes use high-tech tissue-culture methods to propagate plants, in which a cluster of cells is nurtured into a plant grown in a test tube. This has become an inexpensive way to produce disease-free, identical plant cultivars, but it can only be done in a laboratory setting. At home you can use more time-tested methods, such as dividing or rooting cuttings, to increase your supply of plants.

  • Plants that naturally reproduce, expanding into thick clumps, are prime candidates to propagate by digging and dividing.
  • Some plants grow with such vigour that they must be divided every few years to keep them from becoming so crowded that they fail to bloom well.
  • Early spring, when plants are emerging from dormancy, is usually the best time to dig and divide them, although spring-flowering bulbs are best dug in early fall and iris are best propagated in late summer.

Grooming Your Plants

Trimming off withered blossoms and tattered stems does much more than make your garden appear neatly groomed. It also coaxes plants to produce more stems and blossoms, extending the flowering time of many plants. While most perennials and shrubs will bloom all at once no matter what you do, and some plants can shed their old flowers without aid, most annuals and a few perennials depend on you to relieve them of old flowers.

  • When deprived of the opportunity to produce seeds, annuals have no choice but to flower again and again, in an attempt to set seeds. Often called deadheading, this operation is best undertaken with a sharp pair of hand-held pruning shears.
  • Scissors work for deadheading too, provided the stems are not extremely woody or tough.
  • The objective is to make swift, clean cuts without twisting or pulling on the plant.
  • Gather your trimmings in a small pail, along with any leaves that appear yellow, spotted or brown around the edges. If they appear old and tattered add them to your compost pile; if any leaves appear to be diseased or insect infested, dispose of them in the trash.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu