Green Fingers: Enjoying the last days of summer

James Vaughan


James Vaughan

Green Fingers: Enjoying the last days of summer

Dahlias provide a burst of colour with a minimum effort

THE weather this past week has meant that we have been limited in the time we can enjoy ourselves in the garden. It also means, however, that we have less watering to do. This gives us more opportunity to do gardening jobs. A job I have been enjoying this week is taking soft wood cuttings.

Taking Cuttings

Cuttings are a great way of increasing your stock of plants and at a price that is almost for free. I have some shrubs which were not easy to source and had difficulty finding them for sale. For this reason, I have taken soft-wood cuttings of numerous shrubs in our garden. You could easily get up to ten new plants from each of your established shrubs.

I start by choosing a shoot of this year’s growth that has not flowered. You will need to remove around 4 inches (10cm) of un-damaged plant stem. It is important to make as clean a cut as possible. This is because if there is any damage on the cutting it may become infected. Once a cutting becomes infected the cutting will not survive. Once I have taken the 4-inch cutting I remove the lower leaves. I then dip this cutting into rooting powder. This rooting powder contains a hormone that encourages root growth. I then place this cutting into a special compost mix. I add vermiculite to multi-purpose compost. This makes it easier for the fresh roots to grow. I add roughly thirty percent vermiculite to the compost and add it to a three-inch pot. Then I place these cuttings into the compost. Finally, I cover the cuttings and pot with a transparent food bag. This prevents the cuttings from drying out. I usually see results after about three weeks. Once I see roots poke through the bottom of the pot I then break out the cuttings and pot them up individually.

In addition to taking cuttings, I have been admiring the plants that are in flower at the moment. I have added some details about some of these plants here.


The dahlia’s in our garden are coming into their own now. We have added some new varieties this year. The selection has extended to include cactus flowering types and pom-pom types. Our Dahlias have been growing from tubers or ‘bulbs’ which we planted up in March in-doors. The tubers were not planted outside until the third week in May.

This is because dahlias are from the southern hemisphere and they will not tolerate any amount of frost. In Ireland we can expect frost any night until the end of May. Dahlias flower so late in the summer because they need to build up their energy levels before producing flowers.

This is the case for many of our summer flowering bulbs e.g. Agapanthus, Begonia.


These are great plants for this time of year. The flowers appear in colours from yellow through to red. They do well in our climate and will survive for many years. After several years the clumps can be divided and in this way, you can increase your stock.

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