Moving away? Take your garden with you
After building up a beautiful garden through the years it is a shame to leave it all behind when you move. But why should you? You can take along many of your favorite perennials, ground covers, vines, shrubs, evergreens, and sometimes even trees, by propagating them.Skip to next paragraph
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Usually, you'll have at least a few months' warning before the actual move takes place, so you'll have time for the propagating process. Spring is the best time, because plants are in vigorous growth then, but you can propagate a great many plants in any season -- even winter.
You should consider whether a plant you'd like to take with you will grow in your new location. Let's say you're moving to Florida. A plant that needs a long dormant season will fail, regardless of your tender loving care, unless you plan to keep it in your refrigerator for a couple of months each year.
It's a good idea to look at a nursery catalog, which will give you the cultural requirements of the plants you are planning to take with you when you move. Thus, you'll be able to see if they will grow in your new location. Pay special attention to the zone-of-hardiness map. Even if you won't have the conditions required for a specially loved plant, you can get into some container gardening.
Take along a large pot of soil and bring the plant inside when the outside conditions aren't just right.
Unless they're small, it usually isn't practical to dig up whole plants and move them. Also, taking larger plants would leave ugly voids in the garden which prospective buyers might not like.
You don't need any special equipment to get into propagating. A sharp knife and pruning shears will bruise plant tissues less than dull tools. Fish tanks or large terrariums are ideal, but flowerpots or flats put into clear plastic bags will do almost as well.
Coarse vermiculite, often used for insulation, is probably the best medium to use, because the roots will permeate it easily. It's inexpensive, sterile, and lightweight as well.
Labels are a must for all but the most obvious plants. You may think you'll never forget a leaf shape, but when you're working with many plants -- and sometimes with different colors of blooms -- it's comforting to know exactly what you have when you're replanting them.
Excellent labels can be made by cutting aluminum TV dinner trays into half-inch-wide strips. You'll also need a rooting hormone powder, such as Rootone.
Finally, you'll need a holding bed outside. This should be a bed of loose, well-drained soil in a semi-shaded location out of the mainstream of activity. Dig it up and rake it smooth, but don't put any fertilizer on it.
You can use the three main types of vegetative reproduction: divisions, layering, and cuttings.
The plant's characteristics will help you decide which method to use, and often you'll have a choice. Wash your hands and all utensils before propagating. Division method:
This can be used with plants that have several stems, such as rhubarb, hosta, daylilies, peonies, iris, phlox, and any ground covers.
Dig up the entire clump, getting as many of the roots as possible. Cut through the root ball with a sharp knife, dividing it into two or more pieces, making sure you have leaves and roots with each division.
Wrap a wet rag around the roots immediately, because a dry root is often a dead root. Replant some where you dug the plant up, and put the divisions you want to take in your holding bed, firming them down well and watering thoroughly so as to avoid air pockets.
For larger plants or tougher roots you may have to put two spading forks back to back into the crown and pry the plant apart, or use a sharp spade to cut through the root ball. Layering method: