Time for summer cuttings
There's nothing like getting 'something for nothing', saving money and getting plants for 'free'! And it is possible if you take cuttings or otherwise propagate new plants from those already growing in the garden.
There are a lot of our favourite summer bedding plants that are perennial, and if you propagate them from cuttings and can overwinter the resulting young plants frost free, you'll save yourself a fortune next year! These half-hardy bedding and patio plants, include fuchsias, pelargoniums (bedding geraniums), trailing petunias, osteospermums and marguerites to name just a few.
This is the best month to take cuttings from these plants. A lot of people leave it until autumn, but the problem with this is that the resulting young plants may not be large enough or have developed a good enough root system to come through the winter successfully. The bigger and more established the plant - the better and easier it will be to overwinter it.
Choose strong, healthy young growth, free from pests and diseases, that isn’t flowering. Young growth has much more vigour than older shoots, so roots far more easily and produces better plants.
Take cuttings 7.5-10cm (3-4in) long, then trim the base of the cutting just below a leaf joint, or node. Remove the leaves from the lower two-thirds of the stem and insert around the edge of pots of a gritty or cuttings compost, such as Levington Seed & Cutting Compost or Levington Original Multi Purpose Compost. Putting a little hormone rooting powder on the bottom cut may help improve rooting success. You should be able to get around 4-6 cuttings in a 10cm (4in) pot.
Then cover the pot with a plastic bag (except pelargoniums, which don't like to be closely covered) and seal the bottom of the bag around the pot with an elastic band or string. Or place the pot in a propagator - at this time of year, you shouldn't need it to be heated. Then place somewhere warm, but out of direct sunlight, to root.
The cuttings should have produced roots in a couple of weeks, at which time you can pot them up individually in small pots (7.5-9cm/3-3.5in) with a good potting compost.
No cutting material?
If your plants are flowering their heads off and you can’t find suitable shoots, cut back hard one or two at the back of the plants (so you won't notice it and spoil the floral display) to encourage strong regrowth - and take your cuttings from here.
As these plants are not frost hardy, you will have to overwinter them in a light, frost-free place. A cool, heated greenhouse or conservatory is best, but on a windowsill in a cool spare room is suitable, providing the plants get plenty of light.
Next year, you'll have lots of lovely new plants to plant out in the garden - in the knowledge that you didn't have to buy them!