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Quick and easy: softwood cuttings multiply plants.

To multiply deciduous or evergreen shrubs and many perennials inexpensively, take softwood cuttings this month. Succulent new growth at branch tips will root quickly in moist rooting medium. With warm weather ahead to promote growth, plants will get a fast start.

Take tip cuttings just below a leaf or leaf scar. Strip off all leaves on the lower half of the stem. Dip cut end into rooting hormone powder, then insert cutting in a pot or flat filled with a half-and-half mixture of peat moss and perlite, or peat moss and sand. Water thoroughly.

To increase humidity, cover pot with a plastic bag, but ventilate each day for a few minutes. Keep cuttings out of direct sunlight until new growth starts. Water frequently enough to keep mixture moist but not overly wet.

When new growth appears, move rooted plants to a 2- to 4-inch pot of planting mix (handle gently to avoid damaging new roots). Transplant to a gallon-size container when roots begin to become visible on edges of soil ball--or, if plant is big enough at this point, you can put it right in its permanent place.

When plants in gallon cans are as big as gallon plants in the nursery, you can move them to their permanent containers or plant them in the ground. (In low and intermediate deserts, wait until fall to plant. In cold-winter climates, wait until the following spring.)
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Date:May 1, 1985
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