How's Your Gardening Niche?

Last year I wrote a post called What is Your Gardening Niche? It was a little post about how every gardener has their one area either of expertise or interest (most likely both) that he or she just can't get enough of.  I remember several people decided to write their own posts based on it like Anna (Flowergardengirl) who wrote about her container plantings.

Here's a short snippet from my post about gardening niches:
Over the course of the years gardeners learn many things through experimenting, reading, and talking to other gardeners. There are many different ideas and concepts to use in your garden and eventually you develop a little niche. defines an ecological niche as " the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals." Your gardening niche is that small area of the gardening world that you are more passionately devoted to than any other area of gardening.

My chosen area was...can you guess? Plant Propagation!  Yep no fooling anyone who reads this blog.  I've made no secret about it.  It's one of those areas of gardening that I find challenging, interesting and most importantly fun.  It's also a great way to extend your gardening budget at home.  If I had gone to our local nursery and purchased all the plants I've propagated I probably would have spent more than $250-$300.  It all depends on the variety of plants and size of plants. For exaple the purple leaf plum trees might run $10-$12 dollars each while the salvia, Russian sage, and other perennials could probably be purchased for $6-$8 each. I know I've seen Japanese dappled willows (Salix integra) from anywhere between $6 for a small one on up to $20 for a larger 3 gallon pot. It's definitely a good way to stretch those dollars.

This past year I've propagated through division, cuttings, and layering.

I divided several plants like daylilies, heucheras, and even a salvia.  I'll have to admit that dividing the salvia was an accident.  I was moving one that I made from a cutting earlier in the year and it fell into two pieces. Who am I to complain about more plants?  Heucheras are pretty neat.  You can divide them but you can also make a cutting of a single leaf as long as you retain a small amount of the root crown.  Basically you are dividing that single leaf from the main plant.  If you don't get a piece of the root crown it won't be able to produce more leaves later as it grows.  I'm planning on doing a post about them this spring.

I made quite a few cuttings, some successful, some not. My attempt at Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) cuttings failed miserably.  I need to take shorter cuttings this spring (3-4 inch greenwood).

On the more positive side I made 12-13 caryopteris cuttings that rooted.  It's also called Blue Mist Shrub and sometimes Blue Mist Spirea as well as Bluebeard.  This particular variety is the 'Longwood Blue' named after that famed garden in Pennsylvania. I also had success with Russian sage, salvia, artemisia, catmint, willows, butterfly bush, spirea, Schipp laurel or English laurel (which is also a cherry laurel), oak leaf hydrangeas, hydrangeas, a viburnum, Euonymous japonica (not to be confused with the invasive varieties like E. alata and E. fortunei ), sedums, and probably a few other plants I can't remember.  I tried roses but they didn't work out. That just means I'll have to try it differently next time!

One of my latest experiments was layering a penstemon.  This fall I buried a small portion of a couple long stems underneath the mulch and dirt in our patio bed.  I checked them last week and there are several branches with good roots.  All I have to do is separate the rooted branches from the mother plant and them somewhere else in the garden.  In the spring stem tip cuttings of penstemon will work great but you could give  layering a try too.  I layered a viburnum but raised the root to check the roots and they were too small.  When I put the branch back and checked later I found that the root had completely failed.  Sometimes your own curiousity will get you but layering works great on a variety of plants.

I'm sure I left out a few things here and there but that sums up my niche over the past year.  It's good to have an area or specialty to focus on in the garden.  Whether it be containers, roses, herbs, vegetables, or any number of interesting area many gardeners have niches of their own that they excell at.  If you missed my post last year tell me, what is your gardening niche?  And if you caught my question last year, how is your gardening niche doing? Has it changed or have you done something really interesting with it?

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