Taking semi-ripe cuttings
Semi-ripe Buxus sempervirens cuttings by Ash Davison
Between mid-summer and mid-autumn is a suitable time to be taking Softwood Semi-ripe Buxus cuttings as new growth is easily distinguishable from the previous season’s growth. Semi-ripe cuttings should be cut from the hard stem from last year whilst the tip shows soft new leaves.
Each cutting should be cut just above a leaf node and placed ideally in water or a polythene bag as you go; this helps the cuttings from drying out. Regularly disinfecting your secateurs with a small amount of washing up liquid and warm water is recommended, when working with Buxus due to the spread of Buxus blight and other fungal diseases. When choosing your cutting from a parterre or from a piece of topiary be sure to keep an eye out for the slightest changes in leaf colour, this can be an early sign of Buxus blight.
Once back in the potting shed I’d recommend having everything you need to hand, such as clean seed trays, secateurs/snips, seed/cutting compost mixed with a perlite & a root hormone of your choice. The ideal cutting needs to be between 10-15cm long and the bottom third should have the soft leaves removed. Before planting the cutting, it is advised to dip the base in water followed by a root hormone to help establish healthy new roots. Place each cutting around the edge of the divided or open tray with the lower leaves in contact with the compost.
Label the trays with the date & year, water well and place in a propagator indoor in view of sunlight and protected from frost. Keeping your cuttings in a heated propagator can increase your chances of a faster root development but a non-heated propagator is just as fine if kept frost-free over winter. Once the last chance of frost has passed and new growth is visible, plant out to a larger pot or a suitable position in your garden. The new plant should be fully established in around two years.
Here at Newstead Abbey in the Small Walled Garden myself & the volunteers have begun restoring the inner Dwarf Parterre Buxus Sempervirens ‘suffruticosa’ by taking cuttings from the healthy outer buxus hedge. With the intention for a more affordable approach to replacing areas suffering from Box Blight ‘Cylindrocladium buxicola’.