Plant Propagation is one of the most fascinating and interesting of the gardening arts, and one from which it is possible to gain much pleasure and a great sense of achievement. Success is often attributed to the possession of a "green thumb"a belief which is not without some foundation. It is true that some people seem to be gifted and have little or no difficulty in propagating young plants, especially by vegetative means such as cuttings or "slips." But there is no reason why others should not successfully propagate many different kinds of plants, provided certain essentials are borne in mind.

The methods by which plants may be propagated are many, but generally they may be grouped under five main headings: Seed, Cuttings, Division, Layering, Budding and Grafting. The first is known as seminal propagation, and the other four as vegetative propagation. Propagation by seed, cuttings, division and layering are the methods that mainly concern the beginner, although with experience, budding and grafting are not beyond the scope of those whose enthusiasm is not dampened by possible early setbacks and failure.

Only by working with plants and observing their habits and modes of growth can the gardener know certainly which method of propagation to apply to any given plant. Annuals, biennials and many perennials are often grown from seed, but a great many improved horticultural varieties of perennials cannot be reproduced truly in that way and must be increased by division or other methods. Many trees, vines and shrubs, including bush fruits,
may be started from cuttings, while such plants as the strawberry, which produces runners, can have their "daughter" plants severed from them in summer.

Nature's most common method of reproduction is by seed, and wherever practicable it should be used. Not only is it an easy means of securing a large number of young plants, but plants raised from seed are often healthier and less prone to disease. They are completely "newborn" having been derived from the fusion of two cells, one male and one female. Seedlings raised from a plant of mixed parentage (a hybrid) will not produce plants that are identical with either parent in habit, form and colour of flowers, but many modern highly selected hybrid strains produce plants that are remarkably similar to each other. The gardener should, therefore, obtain seeds only from reliable sourcesthat is, from seeds-men who are experts and who offer only the best strains and varieties of seeds.

Vegetative propagation includes the many and varied methods by which parts of living plants, other than seed, are used to generate new plants. Plants that are propagated by vegetative means have a separate existence, but they are not completely new plants in the way that seedlings are, because their characteristics are exactly the same as those of the parent plant. For example, if division is used to propagate a given variety of iris, the part divided from the parent will grow in the same way and be identical in habit, form and colour of flowers with the original plant. This is also true of cuttings taken from chrysanthemums, begonias and most other plants. The resulting sizes may vary because of the season or the richness of poorness of the soil.