Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Take cuttings to create new lives

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Iris germanica needs to be lifted and split at this time Iris germanica needs to be lifted and split at this time

If you had trouble with runner beans, either finding plants to buy or growing them from seed, do not despair.

There have been problems this year, mostly to do with the viability of the seed, and the growers have been having a tricky time themselves. This happens sometimes.

No such problems with the strawberries – they have been great and scrummy. But now my crop is over I shall be removing all of the old leaves so new ones can come through. I grow mine in pots but if you have yours in the ground and used straw to lift them off the soil, clear it all away now. Plants that are three years old need to be replaced so let your old plants produce runners that you can take off and pot on.

The Iris germanica (bearded Iris) finished a few weeks ago and now I need to get in there to lift and split. They gave the most amazing show – up to eight flowers on one stem – and they stood up to wind and rain brilliantly. But now the clump is getting big and the rhizomes in the middle are not going to be productive for much longer. Lift the whole lot out and cut off the newer rhizomes around the outside of the clump using a sharp, clean knife, making sure that each has its own set of leaves and roots.

Cut down the leaves to a half and trim the roots. Discard the old central bits. Replant the new rhizomes, preferably facing south, and so they are not buried in the soil – the rhizome itself has to sit on the soil surface.

You can also take semi-ripe cuttings now from some of your favourite shrubs such as hydrangeas. These root really easily. Take a 3”-4” cutting from a non-flowering shoot and trim off the lower leaves. As the leaves of hydrangeas are quite large it is important to cut each one of them in half – it looks drastic but it cuts down on water loss while the roots are forming. Pot the cuttings into a cutting compost, cover with a transparent plastic bag and put somewhere shady. They’ll take about four weeks to root and can then be potted up individually.

Wisterias will have been putting on a lot of that whippy growth. Cut them back to five or six buds from the main stem to encourage flower formation. These are shoots should be shortened to three buds in winter.

Late-flowering perennials like asters will benefit from a bit of a feed right now to see them through the autumn. Give them a handful of a balanced fertilizer and rake gently in without damaging the roots. Water if necessary.

If you have not got around to putting stakes in around late-flowerers then get it done now so you don’t have the undignified tussle of trying to do it when it’s too late.

It’s a good time to look around the garden to see if you could do with a few more late flowerers – they really prolong the season.

Continue to deadhead and pick such lovelies as sweet peas – the more you pick, the more you get.

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