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Another Level 2 Commentary, from Plant Growth
by Janet Prescott - Monday, 4 February 2019, 12:07 PM

R2104 February ‘18

Q5. Describe the propagation of Pelargonium species under EACH of the following headings:

i)                 selection of material;                     3 marks

ii)                preparation of cuttings;                4 marks

iii)              growing media and insertion.      3 marks


This question relates to the following part of the syllabus:

 4.2 Describe methods of vegetative propagation. 

State the characteristics of materials used in growing media for vegetative propagation, to include: peat alternative, perlite, sand/grit.  

Describe how and when to collect and prepare: softwood, semi-ripe and hardwood cuttings.  Examples from: Pelargonium Fuchsia Cornus, Buddleja, Chamaecyparis.

State the meaning of the terms ‘sticking’ and ‘wounding’; ‘heel cutting’.

 This is a straightforward question on vegetative propagation. There are examples of plants in the syllabus and it is important to learn these specific ones. You may use other plant examples that are suitable if there is a general question, but you can be asked specifically about any of the named examples on the syllabus.

The question is in three parts which makes it easier to concentrate on including the required information. 


The examiners’ comments suggest the following as good answers:

i)                 Selection of material

Cutting material is collected early in the morning when it is turgid. It should be juvenile from this season’s growth, firm, non woody, non flowering, true to type and pest and disease free. The material is removed just above a node on the stock plant. 

ii)               Preparation of Cuttings

Cuttings of approximately 10cm in length are prepared by cutting just below a node and removing the bottom third of foliage. Any flower buds and stipules are also removed.

iii) Growing media and insertion

A 50:50 mix of grit/perlite/vermiculite:bark is suitable for pelargoniums which are inserted into module pots using a dibber. The bottom third of the cutting is inserted so that the basal leaves are above the level of the growing media.

Some of the points in the answers above are general to a range of plants, such as the selection of true to type and pest and disease free. Other points such as the length of cutting may vary between different examples. Where to make the cuts is important, on both stock plant and then cutting. This sort of question is much easier to answer if it is something you have actually had a go at, then you can imagine taking the cutting and write down the different stages.