'Already talking about Christmas!' was a phrase I've heard a number of times on radio and from friends recently., mostly followed up by 'but sure it's still summertime ...! '. I listen with some amusement and say little, because I'm already thinking beyond Christmas. Like many gardeners, I'm thinking and planning for next summer ...
And to this end, it is nice to finally get some time to 'do' my Fuchsia cuttings. I've had the compost modules prepared for a week at this point, and the intentions to get to work on my 2016 collection for at least three weeks ...
The Fuchsia cuttings are just one of a number of plants I'll be propagating to overwinter. There will be other tender plants too, and perhaps the odd rose or shrub cutting as well. Many gardeners are also busy collecting seed too, in preparation for autumn or spring sowing, so plenty to get on with.
Now about the Fuchsia's. I have a small collection of about two dozen. These have been collected over recent years through purchasing, cuttings from others and one or two I've had for some time. As you may know from some of my other 2015 blog posts (here and here) this group of plants, along with others, provide a mainstay of colour in the garden at this time of year. There are two ways to overwinter them. The first is to take the plants that are currently in flower and, as the days grow cooler and light shortens, reduce watering and bring them under cover from protection of winter frosts and cold, and then in spring they are potted on and restored. This works to a certain extent, although I noted last year I still lost about half a dozen varieties. A better way is to take cutting at this time of year (in fact early August would have been a little better), give them the necessary conditions to root, and overwinter them indoors in a cool room on a bright (but not sunny) window sill. Of course a heated glass house would be perfect too ... ).
So this year I am going to use both methods, to give me the best chance of success leading to today's work. As mentioned, I had already pre-prepared some cutting modules, firstly washing them and then filling them with a mixture of 50%compost and 50% pearlite. These were then watered and left to drain. Taking the cuttings is easy with each one approximately two inches in length, from non-flowering health growth (where possible), using clean sharp tools to ensure there is as little damage to the plant tissue, thus minimising the chances of disease. The bottom cut should be just below some leaf nodes, sometimes I remove the soft foliage of the growing tip, cut away the lower leaves and finally, cut the remaining leaves in half, to reduce loss of water. Et viola (insider garden joke ...Lol) ... cutting is ready. I wrote another post a couple of years ago with some good pictures and instructions, find it here.
Next step is to put some rooting hormone powder on the cutting. There are various suggestions on how to do this. I like to mix the rooting hormone powder with some water, in a jam jar lid (or similar) and dip the cutting into this mix. This ensures a light coating of rooting hormone powder, but no too much of it. Then use a dipper to make a hole in your pre-prepared pots, or in this case modules, place the cutting in and firm the compost around the stem and water.
Job almost done.
If you know the variety, write a label and the date of propagation and insert. Then mist the leaves and cover. In this case the cutting modules are in a heated small propagator, which has a lid. These will be inspected every second day, any condensation build up wiped and plants will be misted at the same time. I expect the plants will take two to three weeks to begin to generate roots and by the end of October we might see the startings of roots coming through the bottom of the modules. Of course it is important not to pull the cuttings out to check if there are roots as you may damage what ever is there.
Patience and regular tending are the keys here.
Once we get into later Autumn, I'll move the rooted cuttings into a cool porch, again ensuring they don't full dry out and at the same time ensuring there is little growth until they are potted on in spring. There is a total of 24 plants in total in this lot, covering 15 varieties. There are still more varieties to do, which I'll get to in coming days.
Do have a go at taking some cuttings. Fuchsia are easy, and well worth trying!
Three weeks later ...
You can see out of these three cuttings I took and placed in water, at the same time I placed the main bunch of cuttings into the propagator, two out of three have rooted. This is about the same percentage that I estimate have rooted in the propagator.