Pruning herbs

Credit: Carolyn Herriot

If left to their own devices these sub-shrubs get woody and leggy. Strengthen your plants and multiply them, by rooting tip cuttings in a sand-based propagation mix.

Rooting Mix
Mix equal parts by volume:
Coarse washed sand : perlite : peat
Optional: add granular rock phosphate to aid rooting

Take cuttings early in the day to reduce water loss, remove the lower leaves and place in a rooting mix as soon as possible. The length of cuttings varies, but generally they should not be more than six inches long. TIP: If you don’t have time to prepare cuttings immediately put them in a damp plastic bag, and keep it out of the sun, you can also put it in the fridge.

For best results use a clean, sharp knife to prepare the cuttings. Trim the stem just below a node, ensuring that the growing tip of the cutting is upright. Using a dibber (chopsticks work great!) firm the cutting into the rooting mix with the lower leaves above the surface.

TIP: Willow water (Salix spp.) acts as a natural rooting agent because salicylic acid is a rooting compound. Simply soak sections of willow branches in water with the cuttings for 24 hours before rooting them in the propagation mix. Water cuttings with remaining willow water. Place them out of direct sun, but provide adequate light because photosynthesis is necessary for cuttings to produce roots. Spray mist regularly to keep moist and in 4 weeks or so you should see new growth indicating that the cuttings have taken.
TIP: Providing bottom heat speeds up rooting considerably.

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