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How to Propagate Mock Orange

Mock orange is a popular landscape plant, due mostly to the mass of white flowers that appears each spring. Mock orange bushes can be planted alone, or as part of a mass planting, privacy screen or hedge, and are especially delightful when planted near a patio or front door, where the fragrance can be fully appreciated. Mock orange is easily propagated by stem cuttings in June and July, and will be ready to plant in the landscape the following spring. Once established, it requires very little care, as long as it's planted well-drained soil and full or partial sun.

Plan to take cuttings from a mock orange early in the day while the plant is hydrated. Before you begin, wipe a sharp knife or a pair of garden shears with rubbing alcohol to avoid transmitting any bacteria to the cutting.

Cut the tip of a stem from a shoot on the upper part of the mock orange plant, where the growth is fairly new. Be sure the shoot is healthy, and not spindly or weak. If it's at the right stage, it will break with with a snap when you bend it. Make sure the cutting has two or three pairs of leaves, and make the cutting directly below the lowest pair.

Fill a seedling tray with a mixture of half commercial potting mixture and half perlite. This mixture will drain well, and will prevent the cuttings from rotting.

Poke a hole with your finger for each stem cutting. You can plant several cuttings in the same seedling tray, as long as they aren't touching.

Strip the lower leaves from the stem cutting, leaving only the top pair of leaves intact. Dip the end of the cutting in liquid rooting hormone, and plant it in the potting mixture. Snip off the outer half of the remaining leaves to save space in the tray, and to prevent loss of moisture through the leaves.

Set the seeding tray in a dish of water, and leave it until the soil is damp clear through, but not dripping. Put the tray in a plastic bag, and install stakes or a wire hoop to support the plastic and keep it from dropping down on the cuttings.

Put the seedling tray in a sheltered corner of your garden, where it will get dappled sunlight. Watch the soil closely, and mist it lightly if it dries out. Don't water excessively, which can cause the cuttings to rot.

Check the drainage holes in the bottom of the seedling tray for roots in about a month. If the stem cuttings haven't rooted, keep checking every week. Once the roots are about an inch long, move the mock orange seedlings to individual one-quart pots with a mixture of 25 percent perlite and 75 percent garden soil. Put the pots in a sunny spot in your garden.

Plant the young mock oranges into the soil in autumn, where they will be protected for the winter. In the spring, they will be mature enough to move to their permanent home.

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