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Growing a bargain garden

28/08/2020

How to give your home a splash of green with plants that are easy to propagate.

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Spending more time at home and keen to freshen up the place? Plants are a great addition. The lush greenery can instantly give your living spaces a lift, purify the air and help your mood. But if a trip to the nursey is beyond the budget, what can you do instead?

Propagating from cuttings, plant swaps and being thrifty with what you do buy are all good options. With Spring upon us, now’s a great time to get planting.

How to propagate plants

Propagating, where you grow a plant from a cutting taken from a ‘mother plant’, works with succulents, ivy, flowers, herbs and more. You can get cuttings from friends and family or ask neighbours if they wouldn’t mind giving you one.

Step 1. Choose a large, healthy plant and select a green, non-woody stem with a ‘node’ on it – the spot on the stem where a leaf is or was attached. This area will generate roots.


Step 2.
Use scissors or a sterilised razor to make a clean cut below the node. A single node with a couple of leaves on it is fine.


Step 3.
Take your stem, place it on a flat surface and make a clean slice through the node, which will give your cutting a better chance of growing roots. Remove all but a couple of leaves from the cutting and dip the cutting in hormone powder to encourage root growth.


Step 4.
Plant your cutting in a clean pot with a seed-raising mix and put it in a sheltered position. Cover your cuttings with cut-down plastic drink bottles – it creates a mini greenhouse effect and stops them drying out.


Step 5.
Cross your fingers for a whole new heap of plants to sprout roots and grow!

6 easy plants to propagate

Frangipani

Who doesn’t love a frangipani tree? They deliver masses of pink or yellow flowers from December to April and create lovely shade. It’ll also grow well in a pot if you’d like it contained. Take a cutting from a bare tree during winter and dry it out for a few weeks, so it develops a callus before you plant it. Avoid the milky sap that comes out of the cutting – it can cause skin irritations.

High maintenance? Not really, this tropical beauty is quite easy to grow. Just make sure you give it a warm sunny spot, sandy soil (not clay) and only water in spring and summer.

Maidenhair fern

Soft, delicate leaves on black stems make this striking evergreen a good choice for indoors – either in a pot or hanging basket. Or it can work in a moist, shady spot in the garden. You can propagate in spring by cutting the roots into pieces with at least two healthy fronds on each root and placing each piece in a new pot filled with premium potting mix. Water well.

High maintenance? Extremely. Give maidenhair too much light and it’ll scorch; too little and the growth will stagnate. It also hates fluctuating temperatures so if you have it indoors, choose a room with consistent warmth and humidity. You also can’t forget to water maidenhair – if you do it’ll shrivel and die fast! But that said, don’t overwater or the roots will rot. (Still want one!?)

Devil’s Ivy

This lush evergreen trailing vine makes a great indoor plant – it’s fabulous in either a hanging basket by a window or pop it in a ceramic pot to brighten up an empty corner. It’s easy to propagate a cutting by putting the base in water until roots form, then plant it.

High maintenance? No – Devil’s Ivy is easy to maintain! It loves a humid or temperate environment, standard potting mix and when it comes to the water, less is more.

Monstera

This majestic climber hails from tropical Central and South America, and is famous for its glossy green segmented leaves. It makes a cracker indoor plant.

High maintenance? Not really – it grows in most climates (except very cold ones). If you’re leaving it outside go for partial shade, or make sure indoor Monstera plants have bright indirect light. If you start getting yellow leaves – put down the watering can!

Sanseveria

These spiky, deep green plants, also known as Snake’s Tongue or Mother In Law’s Tongue, can grow up to 2m tall. They’re meant to be a great natural air purifier and they’re easy to propagate. Simply cut below the node, let it ‘heal’ for a few days before planting in soil, or cut a healthy leaf and propagate in water.

High maintenance? The opposite! Leave this plant to its own devices and it’ll do its thing and only need a drink occasionally. It loves sunlight or shade and will grow wherever you plonk it.

Jade plant

There are so many varieties of succulents but one of the most popular is the jade plant or ‘money tree’ because it’s super easy to grow. According to Feng Shui masters, a jade plant may even bring money to your house if you pop it by the front door. Worth a try, eh?

High maintenance? Not at all, this is the perfect plant for beginners or anyone who hasn’t got much of a green thumb. Just ensure it gets some light for a few hours a day and only water if the soil is bone dry. In other words, if you forget for a month, it’s no biggie.

4 other ways to grow a bargain garden

1. Head to a market

It’s easy to stock up on cheap plants at farmers markets, flea markets and car boot sales, where you’ll find saplings and herbs for great prices. Another cost-effective way is to invest in a few packets of seeds, potting mix and get planting!

2. Propagate food scraps

It’s easy to grow garlic chives from cloves, avocado from the seed or even ginger from a leftover knob. Onions, leeks, fennel and lemongrass can also be easily propagated to create your own kitchen garden.

3. Check out garage sales

If the owners are selling up, they may be getting rid of mature potted plants that you can pick up for cheap, or often people will have plants for sale in their front yard that they've propagated themselves. You might also get lucky around council clean up time when a lot of people pop their cuttings and clippings out on the kerb.

4. Browse online marketplaces

Plant-swapping forums can be useful for picking up some unwanted plants. Keep an eye on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree as well for any free mature plants that owners are getting rid of. Hello, instant garden!

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication.

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