Planted up a load of hanging baskets today with St Brigids College students in North West Regional College today, used Fuchsias as centrepieces (raised from cuttings taken last summer from other baskets), worked in some slow-release fertiliser and then filled the baskets with Ivy Leaved Geranium, Surfinia, Million Bells, Nepeta, Lysimachia and Trailing Lobelia....a wee water and then hanged them in the polytunnel for a few weeks to fill out a bit before we place them...
Many of us have been busy doing this over the past few weeks, planting hanging baskets. Indeed you may have yours planted a good 2 months by now, planting them up and then allowing them to thicken up in a polytunnel of greenhouse before putting them pride of place at the front of the house. On Saturday past I held a Hanging Basket Planting workshop on behalf of the Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Area Partnership (BHCAP), Holy Family Mens Health Club and Springtown Activity Group. Thsi event was very well attended and for £2 you got to plant up a basket and take it home, all the materials were provided...amazing value....well over the next 3 coming saturdays we're exploring techniques for planting pots, window boxes and then some examples of edible containers...
the plant we used as a centrepiece is Fuchsia (white eyes was the variety), one of my all-time favourite plants. This is the plant which got me into Gardening - i've two uncles back home in Scotland who grow them and breed new varieties so i've always had a fondness for them since then. When you buy a Fuchsia plant it'll be about the £2 mark...a pretty price where you have 10 or more to buy, well these fellows root fierce easy from cuttings, cutting taken now will be rooted and ready to pot up in about 3-4 weeks and will be blooming by the end of summer, and in turn you can take more cuttings of them in late summer for over-wintering in a cold frame or greenhouse for next year....plants for nothing but a bit of spare time...
Now the process of takign the cutting benefits you and the overall display, hanging basket plante are best 'pinched back' when you plant them, the idea is here that when you pinch back the long growth it encourages the plant to produce 4 or more new stems in its place, thus giving you many more flowers and a bushier habit. Now the cuttings your taking are really these 'pinched out' bits, heres a picture of us taking summer cuttings from Fuchias during a Hroticulture class in North West Regional College. You'll see in the pots that the student is taking more than 1 cutting into the pot, this is to maximise return on space, not every cutting will take so by having 3 or more in a pot your ensuring some return on your space.
we go through every basket pinching back long growths, thus giving us plenty of materials to propogate and produce more plants from
Heres a great picture I found on-line showing what your cuttings should look like, you can clearly see the nodes (these are where the leaves come out from) - you can see the lower leaves have been removed, this part of the cutting will be below soil level so leaves are not needed, also at the top of the cutting the growing-tip has been removed and the top leaves have been reduced in size. With these fuchsia cuttings I don't bother with rooting powder, the growth is so green and fresh the plants don't need it to root. Place 3 or 5 into a pot, around the inside rim. The pot will be filled with a mix of multi-purpose compost and perlite.
You need to protect the cuttings from wilting to death, so to reduce water loss place the cuttings into a bag and tie the bag or onto a tray and cover with a plastic lid. Place the cuttings in a warm placve, away from direct sunlight, so on the shelf below the bench in the polytunnel or similar. Once a week open the bag and check for any rot and to make sure they've not went dry or anything, then tie the bag back up, repeat this until you can see new growth, when you see new growth remove the bag.
After 3-4 weeks your cuttings should be well enough rooted for them to be potted up into fresh compost into individual pots, we're been doing this all this past week in the college. Here you can see some cuttings with nice root systems just starting. In the compost you can see the flecks of white perlite.
and you'll have a scene like this soon enough....lost of free plants....enjoy!!
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