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Propagation By Buds

Categories: THE PLANT

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 raspb
rry, 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,

fruitful plant.

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.


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

year old.

_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.