Monday, 30 April 2012
Propagating Lavender...Part 2
A month ago I posted on how to propagate lavender but only explained the first steps which include taking cuttings of lavender from an existing bush, dipping the stems in rooting hormone and placing these cuttings into terracotta pots filled with compost and vermiculite. But after four weeks of being kept in a moist and warm place these tiny shoots of lavender have grown silky white roots and we can continue with the project.
It's a miracle really and one that will excite you the first time you do it yourself. Who knew that growing plants could be so easy...and cheap? When you consider that purchasing a lavender plant from the garden centre can set you back about £5 or more you realise how economical it can be to not only save your own seed but to propagate your own plants from cuttings. It's in this way that you can create lovely lavender hedges and borders without spending a small fortune.
Once your lavender cuttings are planted you'll need to keep them moist and warm for several weeks before you can expect them to have taken root. It's after that time has elapsed that you should check to see if you can spot any tiny white threads reaching through the pot's drainage hole. Even if you see new green growth on your cuttings you should really wait until you see sign of roots before you pot on, just to make sure they've developed nicely before disturbing the baby plants.
Now that your plants have root-sign you'll want to pot them on into individual modules or small pots. Try not to choose containers that are too large at the moment because its best to allow the roots to be able to quickly find the edges of the container and to fill the module space with healthy growth. If you plant small seedlings and cuttings into large pots it's possible that the roots will end up spindly and weak. And weak roots equate to sick plant.
Upend the pot over one of your hands with the baby lavender plants either between your fingers or resting along the edge of your palm. Then shake gently to get the compost and cuttings to fall out of the pot - it's best not to poke any sticks into the drainage hole since you can damage delicate roots.
It's likely that the soil from the centre of the pot falls out and the plants remain stuck to the sides of the pot. This is because those little roots are hanging on to the pot for support and you'll just need to gently tease them away before potting them on. Your baby lavender plants can be potted on into ordinary multipurpose compost but it's best to also incorporate some vermiculite to aid drainage.
After some weeks have passed you'll begin to see strong growth at the top and a mass of roots coming out of the bottoms. When you see these signs you'll know that it's time to pot your plants on again into larger sized pots. Eventually your plants will be ready to be planted out and you can even expect them to put out a few flowers their first year. Lavender loves sunshine and well drained soil so if choose your site well your new plants can live on supplying beauty and fragrance for years.