Hedge from Cuttings

Discussion in 'Plant Propagation' started by itlajfk, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Location:
    Clyde River Nova Scotia
    I am planning on taking softwood cuttings from a friend's hedge (it looks like privet, but doesn't appear to be horribly invasive) in order to economically plant a 300 ft. hedge along the road in front of our property. The road is gravel and the dust is horrible in the summer. Our house is really quite close to the road and between the dust and the traffic noise, I've just about had it.

    I've read up on how to take the cuttings and from what I've been able to gather, starting them out isn't the problem (other than allowing for a generous failure rate) which is fine. My question relates to what I do with the cuttings after they have rooted and need to be potted on.

    I should say I live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (zone 6A). If I get my cuttings within the next two weeks or so, get them all planted, I gather I will have about an eight week wait before they root, which puts us say, at the end of September. I am assuming these little babies cannot be stuck outside at this point, and will need to be moved into individual containers, somehow brought through the winter, and transplanted in the spring. I did read somewhere that the potting-on containers should be twice as wide as they are tall in order to promote a normal root system (which seems to be fairly wide and shallow).

    So, my questions are:

    1. I'm struggling with the pot issue. I start all of my vegetables and flowers from seed, and normally get away with using either a 4" pot, or really cheap plastic cups from the dollar store. I have a very limited budget. Does anyone have any ideas about what I could use that would be affordable? Okay, let me rephrase - really cheap? Am I worried about something that might not be a problem in the first place?

    2. Assuming I get the potting issue worked out, what do I do with all these plants over the winter? I have a covered porch where I could put them, but will that be warm enough? I also have an enclosed (but unheated) garden room that gets lots of light, but I'm not sure if lots of light is really necessary in the first place as I would think the plants would be somewhat dormant, at least until spring. Our winters seldom get much colder than -10 to 15 degrees C, but the winds can be fierce. I can shelter the plants from the wind on the porch, but I'm not sure how cold hardy the little things will be.

    I do hope this is the right forum to post this in and I appreciate any tips and advice you can provide. Also, if any of my assumptions are incorrect, please don't hesitate to let me know.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Maine coast, USA, zone 5
    You've done a good job thinking this through and laying out your timetable. I would offer a couple of thoughts.

    First the pot issue. Cheap is good, and I don't see why you couldn't use something like large disposable plastic beer cups -- just make sure to punch good-sizes holes in them to ensure good drainage.

    There's a possible alternative, however. You could make a nursery bed for them -- just a planting area with some kind of nice loose humus-rich soil mix, and plant out the rooted cuttings maybe six inches apart -- far enough that you will be able to pluck them out next spring without their roots having gotten intertangled.

    Whether you use pots or a planting bed, however, I would suggest that you don't coddle the plants overmuch this winter. Zone 6a is not unduly harsh, and these are winter-hardy plants, so I think it would be safe to expose them to the elements. If they are in pots, you could group them together, perhaps with some kind of mulch or leaves or something to fill the gaps between them, so that the roots have some insulation. It would be fine to look for a sheltered spot, perhaps near the house, protected from the prevailing winter winds. But other than that, you want the plants to have a normal winter dormancy. Really, they should be fine.

    I admire your patience. I really enjoy starting new plants from cuttings and it's surprising how many kinds of plants can be propagated quite easily this way.
     
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    I agree the bed is a good idea. If you can not do that, can you get hold of discarded plant tubes from a nursery or maybe an annual rubbish collection. You could also plant several cuttings on into much bigger pots or polysyrene boxes. I use styrene boxes from fruit and veg places. Maybe they are being phased out where you are. They are also useful as a cutting bed when you first get them going as the soil stays warm. I have also seen milk cartons used very successfully as a growing pot.

    I also have a dirt road and we have been able to plant the footpath area up with native shrubbery (no formal footpaths here) to help with the problem. I then have a hedge made of climbers behind on the property line with wire fencing at least 8 ft. The shrubbery on the actual footpath reserve is now about 16 ft high and is the bane of the electricity company's tree loppers but they have managed to clip it into a useful dense hedge.
    Liz
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  4. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Thank you both for your input, it is very much appreciated.

    I really like the nursery bed idea, and I have lots of room in my existing garden to create one. We will definitely have to put up some temporary protection from the wind, but that shouldn't be a problem. I have raised rows, about 3 ft wide and 20 ft. long (about 30 of them!), so I do have the space. I could even space them far enough apart that I can straw mulch, which I'm sure won't hurt. I will probably start twice as many as I will ultimately need, just to allow for rooting failures and possible winterkill. Does that sound reasonable?

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria Australia [cool temperate]
    Yes. and mulching is a good protector against the cold as it is against the heat here.

    Liz
     
  6. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Surrey,BC,Canada
    I would second or third the nursery bed idea. With privet, I'd even try to root them directly in a shady area, with daily misting. Anyway, the roots will be way easier to keep thru the winter in the ground than in a container of any kind, (tho containers can be buried in trenches in the ground then mulched to accomplish a similar result).

    Also, a cheap poly tunnel over the baby plants will be useful, tho if you have lots of snow, that would actually work even better as winter sun would be harsh on the frozen little guys. Otherwise, mulch them well before covering with the poly structure. Mulch helps with avoiding freezing/thawing which I've had push the little plants clear out of the ground by spring. Privets are tough, so freezing isn't so much the problem. Drying out in winter sun and wind without a covering of mulch and/or snow could kill a lot of them tho, tough plants or not. The baby plants will have such short root systems, they can't tap into deeper moisture sources below the frost line like the neighbor's mature hedge...so some coddling will greatly benefit your cuttings for this first winter.
     
  7. itlajfk

    itlajfk Member

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    Location:
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    Hi Growest,

    Thank you for your comments. I was planning on mulching them up with a lot of straw because our snow cover can be unpredictable to say the least (last year lots, year before, sporadic). I wasn't planning on putting in a poly structure per se, other than a one-sided wind block to protect them from the Nor-easters.

    Having said that, I understand that the warming-up in winter can be a problem (I lived in Calgary for 15 years). Can I do something with watering that might help? I remember in Calgary, people used to soak their shrubs, trees and roses (especially) just before the first big freeze. I assumed that extra water would freeze, then melt on those really warm days we would get in mid-winter, and this helped the plants from drying out. I could feasibly water in the winter during a warm spell if necessary, but would this make any difference?

    It's hard to know what we can predict for next winter - our spring and summer have been exceptionally awful, wet and cold. Many of our oldtimers (people in their 80's who grew up here and garden) are saying it's the worst spring/summer growing season they have ever seen. So assuming that we can expect anything next winter (other than tropical weather), what would you recommend as a safe strategy, given the absence of a poly tunnel? (Also, whilst I have space and lots of rows, none are in the shade as they were all intended to be used for vegetables on a rotational basis and some fruit beds which are permanent.)

    Many thanks for your response to my original questions, and I would really appreciate any input you or the previous folks who responded, might have to my latest questions.
     
  8. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Out on the west coast, we never have to worry about watering things over the winter. I understand your winters can be quite different tho, and even here during an arctic snap the frozen soil can dry out quite a bit, along with the exposed plantlife. For sure the plants need to have adequate water before the ground freezes, at which point they will be unable to take up any more moisture until thawing occurs...so do make sure they are not stressed for water going into the cold spells.

    The pro's often overwinter things in a tunnel covered with white poly, keeping the humidity in, the wind absent, and heating from any winter sun to a minimum. Polyester row cover could also work, tho I've had trouble with it getting whipped around in the wind and actually doing damage to the plants underneath...so it would depend on how much the wind can be reduced in the area.

    For you, a good thick mulch might do very well, cutting off the wind you speak of, and also catching any snow which makes an excellent insulator if present. I've also laid conifer boughs over the nursery beds for similar reasons.

    Your circumstance is quite a bit different than here, yet commercial nurseries exist in your area, and even tougher zones, and many hardy plants are carried thru without supplemental heat.
     

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