Going Just a Bit Potty

img_8183In anticipation of next year’s opening for the NGS, one of the other tasks jotted down in my notebook (or probably only just jotted down in my head so far) is beginning to prepare for a plant stall, as the money raised from such a sale can sometimes exceed the proceeds from admission to the garden, whilst the sale of tea and cakes will always make a sizeable contribution too. As I like a semblance of organisation in my crowded greenhouses and random groupings of plants-in-waiting I have invested in a bulk buy of square pots from the same eBay source as my seed tray cells; these work out at only a few pence per pot, an almost negligible sum, although I have been advised to retain a percentage of the proceeds to cover costs. It has been most helpful to talk to other bloggers who have opened their gardens under the same scheme in this respect.

Apart from the cost of pots and compost the actual cost to me of making plants available for sale will also be negligible, other than in terms of time – but the enjoyment to be gained from the process negates the time element! As well as my usual (but slightly belated) autumn sowing for personal use, I aim to sow more perennials than I have previously done, with a view to selling spares – delphinium, poppy, lychnis, knautia so far – and thanks to Brian of Our Garden@19 for his recent seed contribution which will help in this venture.img_8146I have raised a few Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ from rooted cuttings before now (some rescued from vases), and have now cut some specifically for the plant table. Inspection of other persicarias showed no non-flowering stems suitable for cutting, apart from Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’ which I hope will root as easily as the Dragon. The Dragon stems shown here have now been potted up.

persicariaThere are also a few Dragons cut from the edge of the clump waiting to be properly potted up, along with self seeded Geum rivale, hellebore, echinops and fern. Lots of all these available!

img_8208Most exciting for me this autumn is my first attempt at potting up stem cuttings directly. A few cuttings taken of penstemon in August had started to root (confession: I kept teasing them out to take a look…) so with greater confidence cuttings were also taken of salvia, prostrate rosemary and Diascia personata,  and then, on reading a recent article, root cuttings of phlox. Not strictly root cuttings actually, as the roots I accessed came away with a little piece of stem, but I was able to divide them further whilst leaving some secondary root on each piece. For anyone else who hasn’t tried root or stem cutting do give it a go – I used to think I couldn’t be bothered, but am now an instant convert! Mustn’t count the chickens before they are hatched though, as they may not all root successfully …

img_8149 img_8148Already immersed in this exciting new process, I was therefore delighted to read Christina’s recent post and find a link to propagating sedums – so to complete the hat trick of new experiences there are now leaf cuttings to get excited about as well as the earlier stem and root cuttings!

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32 Responses to Going Just a Bit Potty

  1. Oh, Cathy, what fun! You’ll have a nursery in no time. One or two other bloggers who open their garden for NGS have bravely written about this minefield, I’d google the subject. Generally, people want/pay well for plants 1-2litre sized in flower that match those that are looking at their best on the day in your garden … If you want to manage takings on plant sales please get in touch with me by email. (Plant sales rarely match, let alone exceed entry takings.20-30% would be a good target.) Otherwise, stem cuttings like the Pericaria make better sized plants that will sell well on the day.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kate – I have amended the text of the post slightly, but from personal knowledge I do know that plant sales can exceed entrance amount in some cases, and that small interesting plants can fly off the table too. That’s why it’s good to hear from several people and I will be emailing you soon – thanks for your support

  2. joanna says:

    Hiya,
    seeing that you are so accomplished in this propagating, I presume you know about the enhancing properties of willow water?

  3. Oh my goodness, what a job you have created for yourself. I hope they all root. I wasn’t aware that you were expected to provide small starts of plants for your garden tour. I would certainly be happy to find this treasure trove for sale to be sure. It just seems like a lot more work for you.

    • Cathy says:

      I hope they all root too Lisa but that would be pretty unlikely 😉 People are not ‘expected’ to provide plants for their NGS openings but it can add a considerable amount for the charities if they are accompanied by a plant sale

  4. Amy Myers says:

    How wonderful! You always leave me a bit breathless at your capacity to organize extended projects 🙂
    And now I do wish I could get some good advice from you on salvaging a much-loved salvia by taking cuttings. There’s not too much left to cut!?! just a handful of flowering tips… Root cuttings might be an option.

  5. igrowhort says:

    Nice job! Glad you are enjoying propagating, it’s incredibly rewarding and for such a worthy cause. I set Mom up with a glasshouse and the inspiration to start growing a few plants for re-stocking the garden and a few plant sales as she has struggled with COPD for several years. It’s great to see her passionate about spending time in the garden at last, you are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your horticultural adventures.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – I suppose I have only got into growing from seed seriously in the last 3 years or so, so this form of propagation is the next progression – certainly exciting, although not quite as exciting as watching seeds emerge from bare soil!

  6. Christina says:

    It is a bit late for Sedum leaf cuttings as they will be falling off the plants soon; I did some stem cuttings about a month ago which have mostly taken.

  7. Pauline says:

    I admire all your hard work Cathy, but I agree with Kate, most people only seem to want whatever is flowering when your garden is open. You have certainly been very busy, it looks as though you could start your own nursery!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for that confirmation, Pauline – I will be looking around to see what can be divided before next year too, but I can’t do it all at once and the one greenhouse is full of tomatoes so I haven’t a great deal of space yet either. Just thought I would make a start 😉

  8. Jackie says:

    That is such a wonderful collection of potential. You are so good to do all that!

  9. Sam says:

    I love how you approach this task with such gusto, Cathy. I’m full of admiration. Taking cuttings is immensely satisfying, although I have had mixed results myself! Good luck with them all.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, with gusto – that sounds like me! I am expecting mixed results too, especially as it’s rather late in the season, but most of the first batch of penstemon rooted within about 3 weeks and this gave me the confidence to do more

  10. Anna says:

    Oh you have been busy Cathy! I’m way behind this year and have only just taken penstemon cuttings which is something I usually do in July/August. Hoping for some continued warm weather so that they root. I confess that I peek too for signs that they are taking. I agree with Kate and Pauline that extras of plants that you have flowering on the opening day will go down well. Having said that though some of your visitors will be fanatic gardeners, who will be pleased to find a sales table that reflects the range of plants in your garden and not just what is looking at its best on the day.

    • Cathy says:

      Hope you manage your penstemon cuttings successfully – and glad it’s not just me that peeks! I agree with you on the latter point, that ‘interesting’ plants can be snapped up by keen plantspeople whether they are flowering or not – but it will come down to who visits on the day/s and I will learn from it one way or another

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    Congratulations Cathy you have been very productive. In my experience you can never tell what will sell, one year a plant will sell like hot cakes and the next year no interest. Any perennial plants not sold I just pot them up into the next size pot to sell for a higher price next year.
    Propagation is enjoyable and rewarding.

  12. Patsi says:

    My husband has a case of similar 3 1/2 inch pots for his tomato seedlings which he starts every year. I’ve found the Red Dragon are very quick to root in soil with a root starter powder ,never thought of using just water. Anyway you seem to be very ambitious, wishing much success. Oh, never considered starting plants this time of year so thanks for the tip.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Patsi – it’s all good experience, whatever the results. The gardening magazines and programmes I see still have cuttings being taken, although next year I will start much earlier

  13. Chloris says:

    Oh my goodness, there’ s no stopping you now, you really have got the propagating bug. And being you, it is all organised and efficient. I propagate all the time and not because I need the plants but because I can. It is a compulsion.

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