Sunday, 4 June 2017

Propagating Wisteria...

At this time of year my attention usually turns to all things propagation, this is a relatively new area for me, I've only been experimenting with plant propagation for a few years, be it seed saving and sowing or in this case taking cuttings, more specifically layering.

We have a Wisteria plant which we bought about ten years ago, when we got it, it was about a foot tall, now it's considerably larger, it trails over our front door and kitchen window, but it is a lovely plant although it does take some work to keep it in check.

Here it is (this was taken this year) -

It's grown well over the years.

Here's another view - 

It's done flowering this year now, soon be pruning time.

Now given the plant is big and does need pruning twice a year it's very easy to make cuttings from it, and for me the easiest is layering, this basically involves laying a piece of the plant on to the soil and letting nature take it's course, if left long enough any parts of the plant touching the soil will start to put out roots.

To make life easier though I use some small plastic planters filled with soil and a couple of bricks to hold things in place.

So here's what I use, plastic planter filled with soil, it's just a couple of spade fulls from the back garden, nothing special, couple of bricks to help hold things down, some string and a knife.

Equipment - 

Lets begin.
As wisteria is a climber (it's in the same family as peas believe it or not) it will invariably put out runners, so I usually pick some that are low to the ground to make life easier, I cut off the leaves from part of each runner (I usually do three or four a tub) and then I score the wood with my pruning knife, to be honest this doesn't need to be done, but I've found it helps roots form, you can also use rooting compound, again it's not needed, with enough time roots will usually form with or without using rooting compound.

Runners chosen - 

Strip off any unwanted leaves and shoots.

Runners cleaned up - 

Ready for layering.

Once you have your runners, and you've removed any leaves and shoots the next thing to do is lay them across your tubs (or just on the ground) I use tubs as I find it easier to remove the cuttings from the mother plant without having to dig about around it to retrieve my cuttings.

Cuttings placed in tubs and covered over - 

Now for a brick.
I then place a brick on top to make sure the cuttings don't come out of the soil, in this case I'm using two tubs, so I've just stacked them on top of each other.

Cuttings done - 

And that's it.
And now the waiting begins, as long as you keep the soil damp (not waterlogged) roots should start to form after a couple of weeks if the weather is warm, I usually start my cuttings off around April / May time and by the summer they will all have roots.

I do check from time to time to see how things are getting on, but mostly I just leave them alone for a few months, occasionally watering the tubs but that's it and then once I'm sure there's plenty of root growth I cut the runners from the mother plant and then pot them up in tubs.

Here's what the last lot of cuttings looked like in the tubs - 

Pretty sure we have roots.
After a bit of careful wrestling so as not to damage the roots I've got my cuttings separated and ready for pots, I use ten litre tubs and the soil I'm using is part homemade compost and part shop bought compost.

Ready for planting into tubs - 

Plenty of roots on these, they'll grow well.
I use large tubs because they are deep it's easy to stick a few canes in and help support the plants, once they're planted up I leave them and wait for spring to see if they grow, so all in all it usually takes just under a year from layering the runners to them being in pots for the following spring and in the four years I've been using this method I've lost one plant out of around thirty, so not bad going.

This years cuttings took off really quickly and started to sprout leaves about a week after I potted them up, they are currently sitting on our patio growing well and putting out their own runners, soon they'll be getting pruned to help shape them, around the the same time the large one gets a trim.

We have growth - 

Looks healthy enough.

And that's about it really, it's really easy to do, this method works with a lot of other plants, honeysuckle, passion flower and numerous other climbers all you really need is patience and because you don't cut anything of the mother plant until it has enough roots to support itself you usually get better results with less failures, at least I find that to be the case.

The hard part comes in trying to get the plants to flower, and the best way to get a wisteria to flower is pruning, at least twice in twelve months, so prune after flowering in the summer, then again in the spring (around February time) and it will flower, it can still take some time though, so patience is needed, but the rewards are worth it.

See what I mean - 

They look good and smell great.

Thanks for reading.