Q What are Irish cuttings?
A Irish cuttings can be described as rooted shoots and are a reliable means of propagation because they already have roots! The other great advantage of using this method is that it hardly disturbs the mother lant. The baby plants can be potted up to quickly grow away.
Q Which plants are best suited to Irish cuttings?
A Irish cuttings are most suited to plants that are clumping. Clumping plants have short rhizomatous tillers: underground shoots that ultimately bear leaves. Ideally, propagate plants just before they're about o grow so that any inadvertent damage can quickly heal.
Q When should Irish cuttings be taken?
A In January and February, it's a good method for grasses such as pampas and Stipa gigantea. The latter bears tall golden grass flowers in the spring, which persist into early winter. Other perennials you can propagate in this way, and at this time of year, are cultivars of Leucanthemum x superbum, silphium and centaureas.
Caption: Irish cuttings of Stipa gigantea are taken in January and February
Two genera particularly suited to propagation in this way are red hot pokers (kniphofia), which are done in late spring, and peonies, which are done just as their roots are beginning to grow again in November. This is also the best time to do galega. All three: red hot pokers, peonies and galega would suffer horribly if lifted divided and replanted. By taking Irish cuttings, this is avoided.
Pulmonarias are best done after flowering and just as the leaves begin to regrow in May. Some really ough plants, such as geranium and campanula, aren't fussy and can be propagated at any time of the year.
Q How are Irish cuttings taken?
A Clear away weeping foliage that might impede your view. Use a hand fork and/or old knife to lever and prise the soil carefully away from the plant's side.
Caption: Use a hand fork to remove the soil from the plant's side
Look for a newish shoot then trace its roots downwards. Free the shoot and sever its connection with the clump. For tough, congested plants, such as pampas, a very sharp spade is the tool you need. Remember that you need to shield your face from those lethal saw-edged leaves.
Caption: Sever the cutting from the mother plant
Put the cutting in a plastic bag while you work on the next shoot. It gets easier as more shoots are removed.
Caption: Place the cuttings in a plastic bag while you create more cuttings
Write a label and put the date when the cutting was taken.
Caption: Label your cuttings
Pot them up in the smallest pots they'll fit into. Too much space in bigger pots encourages the growth of bacteria.
Caption: Pot up the cuttings individually
Put the pots somewhere light and sheltered. Avoid using heat unless it's minimal and you can give the young plants lots of attention, as both drying out and soft drawn growth can lead to losses.
When they’ve rooted, they can be moved to bigger pots.
Caption: Move the cuttings to bigger pots when they've rooted