This is the time of the year to apply to become a U of I Master Gardener! December 13 is the application deadline. If you enjoy gardening, you would enjoy being a part of the Coles County Master Gardener group. It’s a congenial bunch of people with lots of plant wisdom to share.
You can now read all about the Master Gardener program on the Extension website and download the application form at the following link: https://extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/master-gardener-training-details. Call 217-345-7034 with questions. If you are computer savvy, there is also the option of taking an interactive on-line version.
REPRODUCING YOUR FAVORITE PLANTS
Do you have a favorite bush or tree you wish you could clone? If you are a patient person, you can do just that. This is the perfect time of year to start it. Making a deciduous hardwood cutting is quite easy. Almost any bush or vine such as forsythia, grapes, lilac, butterfly bush, pussy willow, as well as any deciduous trees all clone well. NOTE: If you bought the plant from a nursery, it may well be patented and therefore protected from propagation.
Wait until the parent plants are completely dormant after a good hard freeze where the temperature dips down below 32 degrees F. Collect some branches (known as canes) from the parent plants.
Cut these canes into sections about 6 inches long. Make a straight-across cut at the bottom, or the butt end just below a node (leaf bud). At the top, make another cut at an angle about 3/4-inch above a node. This technique makes it easier for you to distinguish the top from the bottom as you handle them.
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When a plant is injured (as in cutting a cane), it develops a callous over the wound as protection. This callous buildup is necessary before roots will develop. Cutting straight across just below a node on the bottom of a cutting causes the plant to develop a callous and eventually, roots.
Since the plant is dormant, these canes will not have any leaves on them, but if you examine them closely you will see little bumps, or nodes. These nodes are bud unions. They are next year's leaf buds. Dip the butt end of the cuttings in a rooting compound (available at garden stores). This step is not essential, but it does improve the rooting rate.
Choose a sunny location. Dig a narrow trench about 3 inches deep, or using a spade, make a slice by prying open the ground. Alternately, construct a frame from two-inches by six-inches and fill it with coarse sand, or use large pots. Place the six-inch cuttings with the butt ends down. Bury about one half of the cutting, leaving a few buds above ground. Tamp the soil or sand around the cuttings, making sure there are no air pockets. Water on a regular basis, but not so much that they rot.
In the spring the cuttings will start to leaf out. By fall, they should be pretty well rooted. You can transplant them once they are dormant, or you can wait until the following spring. If you wait until spring, make sure you transplant them before they break dormancy and start leafing out.
As you can see, this process is not for gardeners who require instant gratification, for it is a slow process. But it is free!
REMINDER: Contact the Extension office about becoming a Master Gardener! You’ll be glad you did!
If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a master gardener at the University of Illinois Extension’s new office in Mattoon, 809 Broadway Ave. at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/. Be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners. The University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the extension office at 217-345-7034. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.