Double, triple or even quadruple the number of plants in your garden by dividing perennials and taking cuttings. Read our handy tips below.
October can be an ideal month to propagate many of your favourite garden plants. It is now cool but not cold, and recent rain has quenched the parched ground, perfect for young plants to establish before winter.
With increasingly hot, dry springs and summers, October is the ideal time to prepare for next summer. Baking weather and drought this year has taken its toll so this is the perfect time to make changes to plantings by splitting and moving clumps of perennials. You can even perhaps take cuttings of shrubs before they are changed for plants better suited to hot dry conditions. The resulting young plants can then be planted in cooler parts of the garden where they may thrive better.
It’s not too late to propagate tender perennials such as pelargoniums, fuchsias, some salvias and coleus before frosts bite. Using snips, collect soft shoots and simply root in water, then pot up young plants and keep on a bright and sunny windowsill or cool glasshouse until spring.
Semi-ripe cuttings – from shoots which are not soft but not yet quite woody – can still be taken at the start of October; this is the perfect time for making more plants of some slightly tender plants such as cistus and lavender that may be hurt by winter cold or simply need replacing with youngsters. Root them using a simple propagator on a windowsill, the cuttings inserted into moist cutting compost.
Cuttings from shrubs
By the end of the month, many shrubs will be turning dormant, ready for winter; this is the start of the hardwood cutting season. Many wonderful deciduous plants such as roses, figs, philadelphus, cornus and ribes can all be propagated using what is a remarkably simple and easy technique, so have a try. After leaves fall cut a 30cm pencil-thick stem with secateurs above a node at the top, below a node at the bottom and insert deeply into the soil or in potting media, and keep moist through winter; shoots should appear in spring.
Dividing & splitting perennials
After this year’s baking summer, many perennials will be struggling and you may even feel it is time to re-think borders. Dividing clumps of perennials in October and replanting the strongest sections into fertile, moist soil in new, more appropriate sites will help improve plants’ performance next year and ensure they are more resistant to future dry spells. It is also a free and easy way to make more plants to fill gaps in your borders or provide plants for friends. Leave more tender plants alone until spring. Take advantage of cool moist conditions to divide astrantia, bergenia, delphinium, geranium, hemerocallis, peony and Siberian iris. These should establish well before winter and get growing strongly in spring, so long as your soil is not heavy and cold. Gently lift plants and divide using a perennial spade.
Replant fist sized chunks in enriched soil. Keep the main piece and replant in fresh compost but pot up smaller chunks to give to friends.