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Ch. 14, pp. 20 - 21
[ Perennials: culture and maintenance | controlling insects and diseases | asexual propagation ]

Controlling insects and diseases Top

Although perennials in general are healthy plants, there are occasionally some problems. It is advisable to select resistant varieties. Plant perennials in conditions of light, wind, spacing, and soil textures which are suited to them. Remove spent flowers, dead leaves, and other plant litter, as these serve as a source of reinfestation. It is advisable to know the major insect and disease pests (if any) of each specific plant type grown, so that problems can be correctly diagnosed and treated as they arise.

Day Lily

Asexual propagation of perennials Top

Division. Most perennials left in the same place for more than 3 years are likely to be overgrown, overcrowded, have dead or unsightly centers, and in need of basic feeding and soil amendments. The center of the clump will grow poorly, if at all, and the flowers will be sparse. The clump will deplete the fertility of the soil as the plant crowds itself. To divide mature clumps of perennials select only vigorous side shoots from the outer part of the clump. Discard the center of the clump. Divide the plant into clumps of three to five shoots each. Be careful not to over-divide; too small a clump will not give much color the first year after replanting. Divide perennials when the plants are dormant, just before a new season of growth, or in the fall so they can become established before the ground freezes. Stagger plant divisions so the whole garden will not be redone at the same time; good rotation will yield a display of flowers each year. Do not put all the divisions back into the same space that contained the original plant. That would place too many plants in a given area. Give extra plants to friends, plant them elsewhere in the yard, or discard them.

Cuttings. Many plants can be propagated from either tip or root cuttings. Generally, tip cuttings are easier to propagate than root cuttings.
Select second growth of dianthus, candytuft, and phlox for cuttings. Make tip cuttings 3 to 6 inches long. Treat the base of the cutting with a root stimulating hormones. Leave all foliage on the cutting except the part that will be below the soil line. Insert one cutting per peat pot. Place peat pots of tip cuttings in a lightly shaded place. Cover with a sheet of clear plastic. Check regularly to make sure the cuttings do not dry out.
When cuttings do not pull easily out of the soil, they have begun to root. Make holes in the plastic sheet to increase the exposure of the cuttings to the air. This will harden the cuttings. Every few days make new holes, or enlarge the holes.
Make root cuttings of phlox, baby's breath, and oriental poppy. Dig the plants in late summer after they have bloomed. Select pencil-sized roots; cut them into 4-inch sections. Put each piece in a peat pot. Prepare a tray of peat pots as for seeds, except the soil mix should be 2 parts sand, 1 part soil, and 1 part peat moss. Water thoroughly.

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