Reproducing New Shrubs

If you have a favorite shrub, especially one with branches that fall back to the ground, you can fairly easily create a clone of that shrub using what is called the "layering technique".

Layering, also called pegging down, is an easy way to propagate many shrubs, and Mother Nature does most of the work. Along with Roses, you can choose among your shrubs with flexible stems, such as Hydrangea. Viburnum. and Forsythia.

1. Begin by selecting a vigorously growing outside stem and gently bend it to the ground. Where it touches the soil, dig a 3-to 4-inch hole, leaving a few inches to stick out of the ground at the end. Enriching the soil with compost will encourage rooting. Carefully remove leaves and side shoots on that part of the stem that will be below the level of the soil when it is planted. At the point where the stem touches the bottom of the hole make a shallow slanting cut in the stem or scrape away about an inch sliver of bark. (Think of peeling a carrot.) Be sure not to damage any leaf nodes -- the point where the leaves were attached to the stem -- because that is where the roots will develop.

2. Dust the wound with rooting compound and peg the stem into the hole, securing it with garden staples. (Garden staples are easily made by cutting the shoulders off of wire hangers.) Fill the hole with soil and water it well.

3. Placing a rock over the planting hole will mark the spot and help to keep the soil cool and moist. One key to success is not to let the soil dry out, so monitor it carefully in hot, dry weather. It's best to do the layering on the shaded side of the plant.
If you do the layering now, the roses should be rooted by spring. Check by gently scraping away the soil and look for roots below the point where you made the wound. If the plant is rooted, it's time to sever the stem from the mother plant and pot up your new plant.

Many garden books suggest securing the pegged stem to a stake stuck in the ground before filling the hole to ensure the new plant stands straight up. But this is really not necessary because the stem will straighten itself naturally.

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