Propagation By Buds
It is the business of the farmer to make plants grow, or, as it is
generally called, to propagate plants. This he does in one of two ways:
by buds (that is, by small pieces cut from parent plants), or by seeds.
The chief aim in both methods should be to secure in the most convenient
manner the best-paying plants.
Many plants are most easily and quickly propagated by buds; for example,
the grape, red raspberry, fig, and many others that we cultivate for the
flower only, such as the carnation, geranium, rose, and begonia.
Brighton pollinated by 1, Salem; 2, Creveling; 3, Lindley; 4, Brighton;
5, Self-pollinated; 6, Nectar; 7, Jefferson; 8, Niagara]
In growing plants from cuttings, a piece is taken from the kind of plant
that one wishes to grow. The greatest care must be exercised in order to
get a healthy cutting. If we take a cutting from a poor plant, what can
we expect but to grow a poor plant like the one from which our cutting
was taken? On the other hand, if a fine, strong, vigorous, fruitful
plant be selected, we shall expect to grow just such a fine, healthy,
We expect the cutting to make exactly the same variety of plant as the
parent stock. We must therefore decide on the variety of berry, grape,
fig, carnation, or rose that we wish to propagate, and then look for the
strongest and most promising plants of this variety within our reach.
The utmost care will not produce a fine plant if we start from poor
Dotted line shows depth to which cutting should be planted]
What qualities are most desirable in a plant from which cuttings are to
be taken? First, it should be productive, hardy, and suited to your
climate and your needs; second, it should be healthy. Do not take
cuttings from a diseased plant, since the cutting may carry the
Cuttings may be taken from various parts of the plant, sometimes even
from parts of the leaf, as in the begonia (Fig. 46). More often,
however, they are drawn from parts of the stem (Figs. 43-45). As to the
age of the twig from which the cutting is to be taken, Professor Bailey
says: "For most plants the proper age or maturity of wood for the making
of cuttings may be determined by giving the twig a quick bend; if it
snaps and hangs by the bark, it is in proper condition. If it bends
without breaking, it is too young and soft or too old. If it splinters,
it is too old and woody." Some plants, as the geranium (Fig. 42),
succeed best if the cuttings from which they are grown are taken from
soft, young parts of the plant; others, for example, the grape or rose,
do better when the cutting is made from more mature wood.
Showing depth to which cutting should be planted]
Cuttings may vary in size and may include one or more buds. After a
hardy, vigorous cutting is made, insert it about one half or one third
of its length in soil. A soil free from organic matter is much the best,
since in such soil the cuttings are much less liable to disease. A fine,
clean sand is commonly used by professional gardeners. When cuttings
have rooted well--this may require a month or more--they may be
transplanted to larger pots.
Sometimes, instead of cutting off a piece and rooting it, portions of
branches are made to root before they are separated from the parent
plant. This method is often followed, and is known as _layering_. It is
a simple process. Just bend the tip of a bough down and bury it in the
earth (see Fig. 47). The black raspberry forms layers naturally, but
gardeners often aid it by burying the over-hanging tips in the earth, so
that more tips may easily take root. Strawberries develop runners that
root themselves in a similar fashion.
Grafts and buds are really cuttings which, instead of being buried in
sand to produce roots of their own, are set on the roots of other
Grafting and budding are practiced when these methods are more
convenient than cuttings or when the gardener thinks there is danger of
failure to get plants to take root as cuttings. Neither grafting nor
budding is, however, necessary for the raspberry or the grape, for these
propagate most readily from cuttings.
It is often the case that a budded or grafted plant is more fruitful
than a plant on its own roots. In cases of this kind, of course, grafts
or buds are used.
The white, or Irish, potato is usually propagated from pieces of the
potato itself. Each piece used for planting bears one eye or more. The
potato itself is really an underground stem and the eyes are buds. This
method of propagation is therefore really a peculiar kind of cutting.
Since the eye is a bud and our potato plant for next year is to develop
from this bud, it is of much importance, as we have seen, to know
exactly what _kind_ of plant our potato comes from. If the potato is
taken from a small plant that had but a few poor potatoes in the hill,
we may expect the bud to produce a similar plant and a correspondingly
poor crop. We must see to it, then, that our seed potatoes are drawn
from vines that were good producers, because new potato plants are like
the plants from which they were grown. Of course when our potatoes are
in the bin we cannot tell from what kind of plants they came. We must
therefore _select our seed potatoes in the field_. Seed potatoes should
always be selected from those hills that produce most bountifully. Be
assured that the increased yield will richly repay this care in
selecting. It matters not so much whether the seed potato be large or
small; it must, however, come from a hill bearing a large yield of fine
Sweet-potato plants are produced from shoots, or growing buds, taken
from the potato itself, so that in their case too the piece that we use
in propagating is a part of the original plant, and will therefore be
like it under similar conditions. Just as with the Irish potato, it is
important to know how good a yielder you are planting. You should watch
during harvest and select for propagation for the next year only such
plants as yield best.
We should exercise fully as much care in selecting proper individuals
from which to make a cutting or a layer as we do in selecting a proper
animal to breed from. Just as we select the finest Jersey in the herd
for breeding purposes, so we should choose first the variety of plant we
desire and then the finest individual plant of that variety.
If the variety of the potato that we desire to raise be Early Rose, it
is not enough to select _any_ Early Rose plants, but the very best Early
Rose plants, to furnish our seed.
It is not enough to select large, fine potatoes for cuttings. A large
potato may not produce a bountifully yielding plant. _It will produce a
plant like the one that produced it._ It may be that this one large
potato was the only one produced by the original plant. If so, the plant
that grows from it will tend to be similarly unproductive. Thus you see
the importance of _selecting in the field a plant that has exactly the
qualities desired in the new plant_.
One of the main reasons why gardeners raise plants from buds instead of
from seeds is that the seed of many plants will not produce plants like
the parent. This failure to "come true," as it is called, is sometimes
of value, for it occasionally leads to improvement. For example, suppose
that a thousand apple or other fruit or flower seeds from plants usually
propagated by cuttings be planted; it may be that one out of a thousand
or a million will be a very valuable plant. If a valuable plant be so
produced, it should be most carefully guarded, multiplied by cuttings or
grafts, and introduced far and wide. It is in this way that new
varieties of fruits and flowers are produced from time to time.
Sometimes, too, a single bud on a tree will differ from the other buds
and will produce a branch different from the other branches. This is
known as _bud variation_. When there is thus developed a branch which
happens to be of a superior kind, it should be propagated by cuttings
just as you would propagate it if it had originated from a seed.
Mr. Gideon of Minnesota planted many apple seeds, and from them all
raised one tree that was very fruitful, finely flavored, and able to
withstand the cold Minnesota winter. This tree he multiplied by grafts
and named the Wealthy apple. It is said that in giving this one apple to
the world he benefited mankind to the value of more than one million
dollars. It will be well to watch for any valuable bud or seed variant
and never let a promising one be lost. Plants grown in this way from
seeds are usually spoken of as seedlings.
PLANTS TO BE PROPAGATED FROM BUDS
The following list gives the names and methods by which our common
garden fruits and flowers are propagated:
_Figs_: use cuttings 8 to 10 inches long or layer.
_Grapes_: use long cuttings, layer, or graft upon old vines.
_Apples_: graft upon seedlings, usually crab seedlings one
_Pears_: bud upon pear seedlings.
_Cherries_: bud upon cherry stock.
_Plums_: bud upon peach stock.
_Peaches_: bud upon peach or plum seedlings.
_Quinces_: use cuttings or layer.
_Blackberries_: propagate by suckers; cut from parent stem.
_Black raspberries_: layer; remove old stem.
_Red raspberries_: propagate by root-cuttings or suckers.
_Strawberries_: propagate by runners.
_Currants_ and _gooseberries_: use long cuttings (these plants
grow well only in cool climates; if attempted in warm
climates, set in cold exposure).
_Carnations_, _geraniums_, _roses_, _begonias_, etc.: propagate by
cuttings rooted in sand and then transplanted to small pots.
Propagate fruits (grape, fig, strawberry) of various kinds; also
ornamental plants. How long does it take them to root? Geraniums
rooted in the spring will bloom in the fall. Do you know any one
who selects seed potatoes properly? Make a careful selection of
seed at the next harvest-time.
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