My yard is surrounded by trees and at the edge of the woods are so many weeds and pricker bushes. It is sometimes challenging keeping up with the trimming. They can grow over a foot into my yard in just under a week depending on the amount of rain.
The other plant that I despise is poison ivy as this tends to grow at the edge of the forest. The leaves are easy to identify but there have been so many times when I have dug into the ground only to start pulling a vine, thinking it was a root to some other plant.
You may know the saying, “leaflet of three, beware of me”. No big deal, I will just jump in a cool shower and wash the urushiol off using soap and luffa (making sure I get every inch of my body, especially behind my ears). But there have been occasions where I have just cut the vine, picked it up and threw it in the woods without knowing what it is only to find out a couple of days later a nasty rash on my skin.
Well, enough about me ranting on about poison ivy. My main point about growing hedges is to create a barrier between unwanted forest growth and beautiful plants around our property. Using cuttings along with a homemade mini greenhouse is a great way to achieve a hedge without spending a fortune at one of the big box stores.
Plant Propagation Cuttings
I am going to be using a rhododendron as an example of how you can propagate hedge using a water jug as a greenhouse. The first thing that I am going to need is a cutting from my existing rhododendron plant. You want to make sure that your pruners are clean by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol to kill any kind of bacteria that might spread diseases to the cuttings.
For rhododendrons, you will want to prune off a new growth, about 3-4”, which will be green coming off the main root. Then cut off all the leaves at the bottom of the cutting and “wound” the bottom by slicing the bottom on 2 opposite sides with a knife (you will want to wipe off with rubbing alcohol)..
I have found that a 50/50 mix of garden soil and perlite works best for propagating plants. Many experiments have been done in my household trying to grow new plants from ones we already have.
We have tried using new offshoots from different plants and just sticking them in the ground, potting plain dirt, filling up a cup with water hoping roots would magically appear, and using all potting soil. None of these worked for us. Then I started mixing perlite with garden soil and finally found the right method of propagation.
To know if your plant is ready to transplant, gently pull on the cutting to see if there is any resistance. Or what I like to do is use a clear container to see when the roots are formed. This usually takes between 6-8 weeks. If you feel resistance, they are ready to transplant.
Depending on the time of year, I might keep the plant indoors and wait until the last frost in the spring. Either way, you will want to harden the plant, meaning expose the plant outdoors for increasingly longer periods. When the plant is hardened you can then plant it outside. Make sure you keep the plant well-watered for about a month.
Plant Propagation Layering
Forsythia is one of my favorite flowering plants because when you see the yellow flowers you know that early spring has arrived, and warmer weather is right around the corner. This plant spreads easily and one of the methods that I use is called layering.
Choose a branch that is long enough to be able to form a “U”, where the bottom of “U” can be buried about 2 inches in the ground and the end of the branch has about 4 inches from the bottom of that “U” out of the ground. Before you bury it, you will want to “wound” the bottom of the “U”, about 10 inches.
Wounding is scraping the branch with a sharp, clean knife (I clean my knife with rubbing alcohol). Then on the wounded part of the branch, I sprinkle some growth hormone to encourage root growth then and place a rock heavy enough to hold the branch down.
When you see more growth coming out you can then cut it away from the mother plant. If you do not want to produce another plant next to the mother this same process can be done in a separate pot next to the mother plant.
Propagate Using a Potato
One other way to propagate cuttings is by using a potato. This method works especially well with rose cuttings. You simply create a hole in the potato using a screwdriver (use rubbing alcohol to clean), wound the cutting, dip it in rooting hormone, and put the rose cutting in the potato.
The last step is to bury the potato under the soil making sure the cutting is exposed. The potato provides nutrients and moisture for the cutting to develop a root system.
Hedge Your Propagation
As you can see, plant propagation is easy and provides a cheap way to grow hedges. There are many ways to propagate plants. You don’t need to break the bank at the store, you can use what you already have or ask your neighbor or a friend to take a cutting of something that you might want in your yard.
A row of hedges looks nicer than a fence or unwanted growth from the edge of the woods such as poising ivy and pricker bushes.
I’ll keep you posted as my hedges expand around our yard. As always let me know what you think and share some of your ideas, I would love to hear about them.