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Propagating your own plants is easy and will fill your garden for spring

After having a good hack at my garden to tidy errant summer growth and allow more light to penetrate over winter, I have a lot of gaps to fill. But the price tags on plants are a bit scary, so I'm on a mission to fill these gaps for free! I have loads of plants I can grow easily from cuttings, division or seed. Although my garden might start to lack variation, I'm feeling virtuous for not having burned a huge hole in my pocket!

DIVIDE AND CoNQUER out of control clumping plants. It’s a brutal but effective and easy means of making new plants. Simply dig out the clump and split it into smaller pieces. Tough ones like flax need the brute force of a sharp spade and strong, booted foot. But most, such as the lemongrass pictured left, are easy to divide using an old knife. other plants to divide now include mondo grass, daylilies, grasses, New Zealand iris, liriope, dianella and dietes.

SoFT oPTIoNS include subtropicals with soft stems and large leaves such as coleus, begonias, iresine and tropical impatiens. These are all extremely useful as mass-planted ground covers in frost-free areas, so it’s great to have a good stock on hand. As their soft stems rot easily and their large leaves transpire rapidly, strike them in a free-draining potting soil and pumice mix, and place them in a small propagating unit to keep the cuttings warm and constantly moist, but not wet.

BLoooIN’ SUCCESS is what you want and what you’ll get next spring – if you take scores of cuttings now! An autumn growth flush provides the perfect cutting material – fresh, vigorous new growth that has matured to semi-ripe. Good, easy to strike “filler plants” to take cuttings of now include marguerite daisies, choiysa, azaleas, hebes, coleonema, fuchsias, Chinese lantern and Australian waxflower. Think vertical and grow a few climbers like bougainvillea, clematis and star jasmine to train up veranda posts and over pergolas.

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FINDING BABIES** in the garden is always fun! Succulents are prolific breeders – simply pluck off baby plants and transplant in other areas. Hen and chicken fern is another goodie. Propagate the baby ferns growing on mature fronds by laying cut fronds on a tray filled with potting mix. Cover the fronds with a thin layer of mix, ensuring the pups are not buried, and keep them moist by misting with water or placing the entire tray in a plastic bag in a sheltered, shaded spot. Gently remove the baby ferns once they develop their own roots and plant out in spring. Larger babies can be cut directly from the fronds and replanted straight away.

SEEDS are a fantastic, often overlooked resource and autumn is a great time to go seed hunting. Collect seed and seed pods from flowers, veges and herbs on a dry, sunny afternoon. Put each lot into a dated and labelled envelope and store them in a cool dry place until next spring. Look for the likes of cosmos, hollyhocks, snapdragons, Californian poppy, marigolds, sunflowers and zinnias. Save tomato, bean and pepper seeds for next year and scatter herb seeds, such as parsley and coriander, which will grow over winter. Just remember, seeds from hybrid plants will not come to fruition.

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