Plant propagation is one of the most exciting of all forms of garden activity. To the pleasure of planning and planting—the arrangement of beauty—can be added the thrill of raising
Fresh plants from seed and multiplying cuttings; and, when we become experienced gardeners, of raising new varieties by cross-breeding
Before describing details of the various methods of plant propagation, I should like to stress the importance of careful selection of plants to breed from. Animal breeders take particular care of their stock, and in no circumstances would they attempt to breed from sickly parents. Yet I have seen runners taken from sickly strawberries, and seed potatoes from a diseased crop, and then have even heard the propagator complain in surprise that the new plants were no better than the old ones.
Almost as foolish is the practice of freely rooting cuttings of common shrubs, when there are others of better type available; or of propagating from inferior varieties of border plants. Plant increase is, in the majority of cases, quite easy if the known rules are obeyed, and the gardener who learns to buy a little of the best and make the most of it is being more economical than the man who buys quantities of cheaper material.
There are a great many different ways of effecting plant increase, but each falls into one of two groups. These can be illustrated very easily by describing the simplest form of life known—the single living cell—and the way in which it reproduces itself, or “grows.”