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American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood

1999; 320 pages; $34.95. DK Publishing.

Plants have developed so many complicated and specialized strategies for reproduction, and horticulturists have developed so many techniques to mimic those strategies, that even home propagators are unlikely to find all of the guidance they will ever need in one book. But home gardeners will find this the most comprehensive single volume on the art of increasing the number of plants you want in cultivation.

Among the most widely consulted and consistently dependable of such books have been Secrets of Plant Propagation , by Lewis Hill (one of the American Horticultural Society's Seventy-Five Great American Garden Books); The New Seed Starters Handbook , by Nancy Bubel (a wise guide through the entire process of germinating seed); and Park's Success with Seeds , by Ann Reilly (over twenty years old, but its photographs of seedlings are unique and invaluable). American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation has muscled its way into this excellent and well-tested company with a big book that sorts out hundreds of complicated topics. Visually it is unbeatable. Every page is filled with lively, confidence-building photographs of techniques as basic as division of perennials and as advanced as rind grafting of fruit trees. It covers general propagation methods by major plant group, and describes techniques?rated easy to challenging?for more than 1,500 plants. There is more instruction specific to individual plants than Hill's, Bubel's, and Reilly's books put together.

"Breeding a commercially successful and stable hybrid is usually an expensive and laborious task, but the amateur gardener can have fun experimenting with this technique. Some genera, such as dahlias, irises, or roses, lend themselves to hybridizing on an amateur scale, often producing quite pleasing seedlings. Indeed, many hybrids that are now on the market were originally produced by amateur gardeners.

"Home hybridizing is not very complicated but requires a methodical approach and a great deal of patience. It helps to concentrate on one species or genus. Have a specific aim, say to produce larger-flowered red-hot pokers that are hardy to -36F (-20C) or a range of

double-flowered Oriental poppies. Do some research to find out if any of the characteristics that you are aiming for in the hybrid are evident within the species or genus. Then select parents that may be of interest and start hybridizing, crossing and backcrossing, selecting and reselecting the progeny".


ISBN: 0789441160

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