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Monday, April 21, 2008

An odd way to Propagate

It's my belief that some plants are not readily available at garden centers for one major reason...they look awful in pots. If a plant does not pot up "pretty", it's very hard to sell it.

Many years ago I was touring a local garden when I asked about a beautiful perennial that I was unfamiliar with. It was a hardy Geranium, to be exact it was Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokova'. Luckily the gardener was really into botanical names and she made sure I had the name on a tag plus a nice healthy chunk she insisted I plant in my own garden.

I remember thinking it looked awfully scraggly when I got it home but I put it in the garden without much thought. The next year I was so enamored with this hardy Geranium that I began to search out more varieties. Local nurseries didn't carry more than one or two varieties at a time except for Roslyn Nurseries which used to be in the next town. I bought a pot of Geranium cantabrigiense 'Karmina' (shown in the opening photo) because it was supposed to be the same as 'Biokova' except for the color which was a deeper pink.



This type of hardy Geranium is evergreen, it does not die back in the winter and the foliage turns a nice reddish color. I loved how it cascaded out onto my gravel driveway so it was a natural to add to my raised perennial beds.

This photo was taken on March 24th, four weeks ago. You can see how a large piece of it just hangs down over the rock wall. Since I wanted to pot up some of this for our plant sale I had to address this cascading portion.


None of these photos will win a beauty contest but hopefully they convey my message. Here you can see that I just cut the Geranium along the lip of the rock. Now I could see the part that was rooted into the ground.

Here you can see my hand holding the "cascade portion" up before cutting it.


I dug out a huge chunk of the rooted portion to pot up and at the same time brought the cascade portion to the potting table with me. I hated the thought of throwing it away.

When I looked closely it seemed to me like there were little roots on this portion too but I know they weren't rooted to the rock wall as this piece was very loose, not stuck to the rocks.


The rooted part was a gigantic tangle of stems. It was impossible to tell what was supposed to go in the pot and what was supposed to stick out of the pot. I kept telling myself "green side up" as I tried to make some sense with the stems.

This is what they looked like potted up. I don't have a photo of them today because my husband is in Washington DC and has my camera with him. You'll have to take my word that they don't look much nicer than this, a bit more foliage but more stems than anything.

The odd thing? I put some mud into a plastic wagon and stuck the "cascade portion" on top of it. Every few days I go out and water it. Four weeks later and it still looks like this! Obviously it's not dead but now what do I do?

I'm thinking of filling some pots with soil all the way up, close to the rim. Then taking scissors and cutting this foliage into squares and sticking them on top of the pots. Kind of like sticking a toupee on top of a bald head.

What do you think? I think it's worth a try!

13 comments:

Gail said...

Melanie,

No helpful thoughts but why not try it! I need to go back and comment on your previous post but I too dug up the verbascum, I love its big fat leaves and it looks stellar next to blue green foliage of a juniperus.

Gail

Amy said...

I love the hardy geraniums, they grow very well here. My mother has given me several of hers over the years and always has more available when I want them.

GardenJoy4Me said...

melanie .. I also have "Biokovo" cranesbill .. and it really takes a beating with heat and drought .. pretty flowers that keep coming when I shear them down after the first flush. What would we do with out these little work horses in the garden ? LOL
Joy
PS .. things are drying out here so much .. I think I am going to have to try my new water wand !!!

MELISSA MANNON said...

you are very clever. I learn a lot from you. I never really gave much thought to scraggly garden center plants. I once took home a sickly Japanese maple and it is a showpiece in my garden now. I knew what it would look like with love and care. If I don't know what a plant is supposed to look like and it's scraggly, I don't give it a second glance. I think now I will

Anna said...

I hope the cascading part will root for you. I bet it does cause I've seen them root by layering. I'm suppose to be getting a new cultivar geranium from PW. She didn't say if it was perennial or annual. I'm hoping perennial. I've got so much gardening to do this week it's not even funny. Times are just a bit too nutty right now.

garden girl said...

I love hardy geraniums! I have four different varieties in my garden. I think I killed Rozanne last year when I tried to divide it - I'm very disappointed, as she had been very happy in morning sun, blooming her head off from May to October - can't say that about many other perennials, sun or shade! The other geraniums are all up, except Rozanne - I had two of them. I think they're both gonners. :(

It's 2008 perennial of the year, and I'm surprised my nursery isn't selling it yet. I think they should be! In the meantime I ordered one online, as well as two Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter,' which should be coming this week. I'm planning to visit a nursery I found online recently - it's about 40 or 50 minutes away from here, but from what I've seen on their website, it should be worth the trip. If I don't find more Rozanne before then, I'll definitely be picking up at least a couple more of them when I go out there.

Cinj said...

I don't know a whole lot about plant propogation, but I say go for it! What have you got to loose?

patientgardener said...

I would give it a go - just like taking cuttings really - worth a try - fingers crossed

Connie said...

Sounds like it really wants to grow so go for it! Love the color of the foliage.

Nichole said...

I can't wait for the sale!!!

Melanie said...

Hey everybody, today I took scissors to that big clump. I cut it into pieces and pressed each one into a pot filled with potting soil.

I'll post a follow up post next week with a photo.

Thanks for all the great comments, you guys are awesome!

Sally Kelley said...

Melanie-I enjoyed reading your blog very much. Perhaps there's hope yet for me for a green thumb! I enjoyed meeting you and Don last weekend in PA very much! Thanks for introducing me to this great and informative site. Sally

Babs said...

I'm hoping hardy geraniums are super hardy.

I planted three bare roots geraniums in pots for my mom two weeks ago. (The deal is: I find her fun flowers and plant them and she waters them after I go home.) I asked her on the phone yesterday if there were any signs of life above the soil surface yet. Her response, "Oh, was I supposed to water those?"

I'm hope the roots aren't dead and that they'll bounce back. Do hardy geraniums take abuse well? Or do they need to be babied?