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Multiplying favorite perennials with stem cuttings.

Spring is the best time to plant cuttings from your favorite perennials. Among the easiest to multiply from stem cuttings are perennial alyssum, carnations, catmint, coreopsis, dusty miller, gaillardia, penstemon, and yarrows.

Start in the morning, when growth is freshest. You need sharp clippers and a plastic bag. Look for nonflowering shoots that are mature enough to snap when bent. Make a clean diagonal cut 2 to 4 inches from the tip of the shoot, just below a leaf. Put the cuttings in the plastic bag to keep them from wilting.

Next you need a coarse, sterile, moistureholding soil medium such as perlite, vermiculite, or sand. We used equal parts vermiculite (to hold moisture) and perlite (to keep soil from getting soggy).

To prepare a cutting, pinch off lower leaves. Dip the leafless end in rooting hormone if you like. Poke a 1 1/2- to 2-inchdeep hole in the rooting soil, insert the cutting, and push soil around it. Plant three cuttings to a 4-inch pot; water, and put pots in a humidity chamber. To prevent it from drying out, put the chamber in shade, and mist plants frequently.

In about a month, roots should be at least 1/2 inch long. To test, tug cutting gently; if it resists, it's ready to transplant into a small container of potting soil.

Water and fertilize regularly. When plants are well rooted and of good size, transplant them into the garden or share them with friends.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1989
Words:245
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