Friday, May 18, 2007

Propagation by Layering

I decided that we need more shrubs in the yard, yet I have no idea when I can travel to a garden center to get some (the nearest place selling shrubs is over 2 hrs away). A slow but cheap and easy method of propagating deciduous shrubs is called layering. I decided to do my first intentional layering of the Spirea "Goldflame". I like this shrub for its bright pinky-orange foliage in early spring and clusters of purple flowers in early summer. It is better to do layering in early spring, (our spring runs a bit later up here - i.e. my tulips have not bloomed) when the branches are young, green, and flexible.

GARDEN MEMORIES INTERLUDE...I remember discovering this phenomenon back when I was about 6 yrs old and puttering around in my mom's rock garden. I noticed that some plants grew new little plants when you covered their stems with dirt and left them for a little while. I don't think mom had any idea I was doing this. I think she thought I was absorbed in the little patch of beans I was supposedly growing in the empty lot beside the yard ("where the snakes and scorpions roamed"...or at least that's how the song should go in the Okanagan).

First, I selected a branch looking sufficiently young and close to the ground. I pulled off a few leaves close to the mother plant, then dug a hole under the branch. (I hope to get two plants here because I used a bifurcated branch.) I pinned the bare branches to the bottom of the hole with wire. I used 3mm bonsai wire but it was too malleable. Instead, I would recommend wire hangers cut into pieces or easier yet, rocks.
Then, to make sure my new plants don't come out of the ground at an angle, I poked a wooden chopstick into the ground and tied the plant to it with a velcro fastener. I love those velcro plant ties! The best part is that you can reuse them over and over. Lastly, I filled in the holes with dirt and said a prayer. Hopefully, these branches will make some roots and next spring, I'll cut the rooted shrublets from the mother shrub.

1 comment:

Ottawa Gardener said...

The goldflame spirea in my garden seems to do this by itself! I have also had a eudoynus reproduce itself by layering. The goldflame also seems to be sending out suckers. It hadn't been pruned back in who knows how long (before I lived here) and I think its survival strategy was to send up branches further away so as not to compete with all the choking dead twigs in the centre!