Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Time, Effort Pay off in Learning to Layer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Time, Effort Pay off in Learning to Layer

Article excerpt

Layering is a nearly foolproof way to increase some ornamental shrubs. It's much easier than cuttings and, unlike many seeds, produces duplicates of the original.

The major drawback is the time required to root shoots while they are still attached to the parent.

Whereas nature uses layering routinely for many low-branched plants, commercial growers seldom consider it except on difficult-to-root plants. But that's because of labor expense and space requirements. For the home gardener, it involves only the learning of a few simple steps.

The process is based on the tendency of certain plants to produce roots, under favorable conditions, from the cambium zone of the stem.

A suitable branch usually will root when bent to the ground, held in place with something like a clothespin or heavy stone and then covered with 2 or 3 inches of soil. This is known as simple layering.

Low-growing types of junipers, azaleas, honeysuckle, cotoneaster and rhododendrons are easy. Junipers frequently root branches on their own.

Simple layering outdoors normally is done in early spring or late summer.

In the spring, use dormant wood produced in the previous growing season. In summer, use current-season growth that is still flexible. In general, older shoots won't root.

Most plants will be established by early autumn or the next spring and then can be cut from the parent and transplanted into the landscape or containers.

Treat the rooted layer like a rooted cutting. Place it in a container of potting soil and keep moist and partly shaded until special efforts aren't needed. It soon will be as sturdy as container stock from a commercial nursery. Handle it then like a purchased plant.

For slower-rooting plants, such as most evergreens and camellias, it may take two or three growing seasons to develop a large enough root system. Let your experience be the guide. …

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