Garden Tips



The ability of plants to reproduce without sexual reproduction, by producing new plants from existing vegetative structures.

    That is….growing a new plant from anything but a seed: such as roots, stems, leaves……

                                                You too can clone in your own backyard!


When you want plants that are identical to their parents.

When you want to save seedless plants, or  hybrids (which won’t come true to seed.)

Greater numbers can be produced in a short time

Less time to get to a mature plant

                                                      How and what?

Specialized structures do it naturally. (Just plant!)

    Bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes… (Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, dahlias, garlic, shallots, potatoes…)

 Divisions –break up clumps of perennials to make more clumps….

Will work for plants that grow in clumps or have more than one stem arising from the soil. Pry apart the multiple stems so that each remaining stem has a fair amount of roots, and replant each piece immediately. (Will also work on some house plants, such as Asparagus fern)

Additionally, offsets and plantlets form naturally on some plants, and can easily be “divided” off the main plant – Aloe vera, bromeliad “pups”, African violets, Spider plant, “mother of thousands”…. (Also, plants growing from runners  (“stolons”) off the main plant – strawberries, bamboo, etc….)

Cuttings –

   Stem cuttings are probably easiest.

Just cut off a piece and force it to grow roots! Some will root easily in water (Coleus, willows, Impatiens, wax (fibrous) begonia, many others) – though applying a dusting of rooting hormone, and growing in a sterile medium and humid environment will be almost foolproof (however, some will need to air dry/callous first – Pelargonium (geranium), rubber plant, cactus or they might rot.)

   Leaf cuttings are also easily made (jade plant, begonia, African violet, Sansevieria). Snip off a leaf, pin it down to the soil (or a sterile medium), and keep it moist until roots develop!

Layering -

 “Tip layering” happens naturally – blackberries, forsythia. Roots are produced when the stem is pinned the soil (or moist medium. Easy to do with ivy (artificially).

  “Air layering” is, essentially, much like a stem  cutting, but without completely separating the pieces – make a partial cut, wrap the stem in a moist medium, and separate when roots are produced. Two good candidates for this are Diffenbachia  and  Dracaena.

Grafting – attaching a shoot to the root stock of another plant: fruit trees, roses

Tissue culture (orchids, etc.) – anything you need thousands of clones for fast!


Autumn Leaves – WPlanting Bulbs – WPlants from Garbage – W


To hold flowers when making a arrangement in a wide-mouthed bowl, use clear, waterproof floral tape to create a grid across the top of your container.  The smaller opening in the grid will help to hold flowers and foliage stems in position.


Thoughout the gardening season keep a record of things that you would like to do differently next year.  Take note of problems and growth for a more successful next year.  Close up photos will remind you accurately of color, texture, size and location.  Make note of what you enjoyed!


When in season, pussy willows are extremely pliable and can be shaoped easily.  Avoid using dried willows when planning a design that requires manipulation of the stems.


PLANTS NEED NITROGEN TO GROW.  Atmospheric nitrogen is not readily available to plants. Synthetic fertiliazer is available but disappears quickly and leaves behind salts. Organic fertilizer and compost provide nitrogen as plants need it and need less frequent replacement.


For fresh green designs cut your greens, make an angle cut or slice the end.  Soak in water for one week before using.  Hemlock and Holly are short lived and have to be replaced frequently.

To secure holiday ornaments into vases, hot glue a wood pick or stake into the opening of each item to create a “stem” that can be inserted into the container.

Invasive Species     

 What Are They?

 Invasive species are organisms (animals as well as plants) that are not native to an area (i.e., “exotic” – this could be from another country, or another area of this country) and that can spread rapidly over large areas (this is enhanced by strong vegetative growth, abundant seed production, high seed germination rate, long-lived seeds, and rapid maturation to a sexually reproductive (seed-producing) stage. Since they are away from their native controls (insects, diseases, etc.) population growth is unchecked, and explosive.)

(Note: Not all introduced plants are problems – corn, wheat, many garden plants. We’ve gotten

used to others – weeping willows, dandelions, Queen Anne’s Lace.  In fact, about 1/3 the plants

in New England are exotics, but most are not problems…)

 What Problems Do They Cause?

They out-compete native plants, causing them to become endangered.

They often cause loss of habitat and food  for wildlife, and sometimes change the actual habitats in which they grow.

They serve as host reservoirs for plant pathogens and other organisms that can infect and damage desirable native and ornamental plants, and sometimes hybridize with them.

 This “biological pollution” causes the reduction of  biodiversity in an area.

 (some)Specific Problems Species  In Our Area

Autumn Olive

Norway Maple

Garlic Mustard


Purple Loosestrife

Yellow Flag

Honeysuckle (various)

Burning Bush (Euonymus)

Multiflora Rose

Glossy Buckthorn

Asiatic Bittersweet

Japanese Barberry

Japanese Knotweed

Phragmites (giant reed, replacing native cattails)

What To Do About Them……

 Above all, don’t buy more – and don’t give the ones you have to anyone else.

Use more native plants in your garden.

Control exotic invasive plants in your landscape either by removing them entirely or by managing them to prevent their spread outside your property.

Learn more about them, and spread the word!…..(or, you too may find out about the curse of the Giant Hogweed…..)


We prune plants to make them more beautiful, to encourage flowering and branch color, and to help them grow strong and healthy. Some trees and shrubs need never be pruned while others require a seasonal cutting.

Light pruning for health

Nearly all woody plants develop little problems that can lead to big diseases or unwanted growth. Careful cuts throughout the year go a long way to ensure healthier plants. Keep a quality pair of clippers in your back pocket while in the garden so you can correct these unhealthy conditions with a kindly cut.

Remove any part of the plant that looks diseased before it can spread. Remove dead twigs and branches so these don’t become pest entry points. If branches are crossed or touching, remove the smaller one because friction creates wounds which invites problems. Trim off whip-like sucker growth originating at the base of the trunk so it doesn’t ‘suck’ growth energy from the rest of the tree. Do not prune later in the summer. Allow shoots to mature and prune again in winter.

Pruning the natural way

Unless you desire a formal garden, no plant looks natural when it’s shaped into a ball or box. Each species has its own natural beauty, and pruning should enhance this form not fight it. Woody plants that must be cut back for size or shape should be done in a natural way, by working from the inside out. Strive to retain enough outer foliage so that each cut is cloaked in leaves.

Pruning deciduous flowering shrubs

How and when you prune deciduous flowering shrubs influences the size and quantity of blossoms, or whether they flower at all. The key is to know when it flowers, and whether blossoms develop on the older twigs or newly grown ones.

Spring flowering shrubs blossom on twigs that matured the year before. They blossom so early there is no time to put on new growth before it is time to flower. These shrubs are pruned at the end of their flowering season to encourage more abundant summer growth that will support next year’s crop of flowers. Examples include Bridal wreath, Forsythia (Forsythia), Lilac (Syringa) and Flowering Quince(Chaenomeles).

Summer flowering shrubs blossom on new twigs grown in the spring. These plants are pruned in winter while dormant, which encourages a flush of new stems in spring. These in turn bear more abundant flowers in mid to late summer. Examples include most Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia), Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), Spirea (Spiraea japonica), Beautyberry (Callicarpa), Japanese Mock Orange (Pittosporum tobira), Potentilla (Potentilla), Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), and Hydrangea (Hydrangea) varieties that bloom on new wood.

For larger pruning jobs, check with your local garden center for advice.

Recycle your prunings



Fall Colors

Putting your garden to bed can be tiresome, so establish a comfort schedule for your chores.

  1. Pick a comfortable weather day.
  2. Identify and label plants that need attention:  near dead, diseased, pruning, dividing plants, seeds, and relocation of plants.  First remove dead or diseased plants .Do not compose dead or diseased plants. Remove seeds or spread seeds to new areas. Finally attend to dividing and seeds.  You can divide in pots for next year and plant pot into the ground.  Next year it will be easier to transplant.
  3. Save and label seeds.
  4. Rake the beds.  Leave some fall leaves for the tender plants; roses and hydrangeas. Make blankets of leaves around their base.
  5.  Removing all stocks of plants are your choices.  Some people like the winter interest.   It does help the wildlife survive. Seeds feed the birds and twigs help with nesting.  It also brings the winter pleasure of bird watching.
  6.  Most people leave ornamental grasses.  They make great winter interest in the garden.
  7. Remove all annuals and vegetable plants. Do not put in compose if diseased or questionable.
  8. Weed perennials and all beds. This makes it easier in spring.
  9.  Enrich the soil with materials of your choice.
  10. Water well all plant life; trees, shrubs, perennials, and winter vegetable for the winter.
  11. Apply winter mulch.  A few inches of shredded leaves can provide earthworm activity and less spring weed growth.
  12. Wrap with burlap all tender plants and small evergreens from winter conditions.
  13.  After the first frost, don’t forget your tender tubers.  Dig up and store for next year.
  14. If you follow these tips you will be rewarded in the spring.
  15. Good Night all my garden friends.   It is time for me to go to bed.


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