When I first moved into my current home 15 years ago, the farm house in the pasture was completely void of any landscaping. I instantly fell in love with the rural paradise, but I had my work cut out to get the vacant landscape looking good.Having spent most of the budget on the 40 acres and house, there was not much left for the landscape. I decided that if I couldn’t afford an instant landscape, I would be patient and grow my own plants through propagation.Propagation can be a wonderful way to acquire new plants at a fraction of the cost of container-grown shrubs.With the small amount of money I had left from the home purchase, I invested in materials to build a small greenhouse. I put together a 12′ x 12′ structure to house my propagated seeds and cuttings. The addition of a crude misting system, ventilation and heating has allowed me to produce 80 percent of my landscape. While my mini-greenhouse has been helpful, you don’t necessarily need one to propagate your own plants.There are many forms of plant duplication including seeding, dividing, layering, grafting and taking cuttings. Taking cuttings can be one of the easiest ways to propagate new shrubs. While many plants can be successfully propagated through cuttings, some may be difficult or impossible to reproduce through this method. Pine species, cedar, redbud, gingko, laurels, Southern magnolia, dogwood and most common shade trees such as oak, elm, pecan and hickory can be a real challenge to grow from cuttings.Taking cuttingsCuttings collected in early summer are called softwood cuttings. Those collected in winter are called hardwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are taken from the current season’s new growth. Select softwood cuttings in June, July and August.Take cuttings from healthy, disease-free shoots near the top of the plant. The trick is to find new wood that has not fully matured, yet is not too tender. Cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches long. Make a smooth slanting cut with a sharp knife. Cuttings will be inserted 1 to 2 inches deep in the rooting medium, so remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem. Be sure to leave 50 percent of the leaves at the top to manufacture food for the cutting.Dormant or hardwood cuttings are collected the same way, but the cuttings are taken during the winter months. First-time propagators will likely have more success with softwood cuttings.Almost all cuttings respond better when dipped in artificial rooting hormones, which are available at most nurseries as powders, liquids or gels. These hormones will encourage successful rooting.Rooting mediaCuttings are only as good as the soil they have to grow in. Start with a good, sterile medium. A general mix would be half peat moss and half perlite. Ground pine bark is also excellent when mixed with equal parts of perlite. Some folks have had success growing cuttings in pure vermiculite, a soil-less medium that absorbs water yet provides good aeration due to its particle size.Do not use garden soil as a propagation medium. It is too heavy and can contain diseases.Cutting careThe most common cause of failure in cutting propagation is uneven moisture. Never allow the propagation medium to dry out or become waterlogged. Keep relatively high humidity around the leaves at all times. Commercially-made mini-greenhouses are available, or you can make one yourself with wire and plastic to create a humid environment. These structures can range in size from a few feet to something as large as a dog house or bigger. A frame built of wood and plastic can also protect rooted plants in winter.Cuttings housed under plastic need water only once a week. Don’t add any kind of fertilizer to the medium until the cuttings have rooted.After the cuttings have produced a root system 1 inch long, transplant them into a soil mixture in individual pots. Most cuttings form adequate root systems in one to three months. A good soil mixture for potted plants is one-third peat moss, one-third sand and one-third top soil.Use a slow-release fertilizer in container plants and closely monitor water needs. Plants may need to root-out in containers for up to two years before being ready to transplant in the landscape. Some vigorous-growing plants may be ready to plant after one season in the container.While it takes time and effort, it can be satisfying to grow your own landscape. The possibilities are endless and the money you save can help you purchase better propagating structures. Once you get the hang of propagation, it will be hard to walk past plants in other landscapes without sneaking a cutting into your pocket.
Institutional investors in Europe and the Middle East (EMEA) have a “more voracious” appetite for high-yield corporate debt than those on a global level, but they lag when it comes to alternatives, according to a survey by Allianz Global Investors (Allianz GI).For the fourth year, the asset manager has surveyed hundreds of institutional investors across the world on their attitudes to risk, portfolios and asset allocation.This year, the report covers 755 investors across 23 countries representing more than $26trn (€23trn) in assets under management.It is split by region, with 250 respondents in the Americas, 250 in the EMEA region and 255 in Asia-Pacific. One-third of the respondents for the EMEA were pension providers, with insurance companies the next biggest category (27%).According to AllianzGI, the study shows global investors have hardly changed their risk-management strategies since the financial crisis in 2008, yet investors in the EMEA have.The use of duration management in the EMEA increased by 15 percentage points compared with pre-crisis levels (43% to 58%).Diversification approaches – by geography and by asset class – remain prevalent, however.“This is understandable,” according to AllianzGI, “given that institutional investors in the EMEA region consider market volatility to be among the biggest investment concerns, along with monetary policy and the low-yield environment.”EMEA investors are less concerned about market volatility than institutional investors globally (36% versus 42%), but they view the low-yield environment as a greater challenge than do their global peers (29% versus 24%).In terms of asset allocation, equities are the preferred asset class for investors in the EMEA, as they are globally, although with a strong home-region bias.High-yield corporate debt is the second most attractive asset class among EMEA investors.“This highlights the thirst for yield in the region and hints at the increased risk EMEA investors are willing to stomach for performance,” AllianzGI said.“To further underline this trend, they have a larger appetite for private equity than their global counterparts (19% versus 12% globally).”The asset manager said that, despite this, investors in the EMEA region lagged the rest of the world when it came to investing in alternative assets.Corporate high-yield debt was one of the three top asset classes EMEA investors said they would go long on/buy, selected by 28% of respondents.The asset class did not make the top three list for investors globally.As concerns alternatives, 65% of institutional investors in the EMEA invest in this asset class compared with 74% worldwide.AllianzGI said it was interesting that fewer EMEA investors than globally believed alternatives could help as a source of diversification (18% versus 25%).Another finding of the survey was that institutional investors primarily incorporate ESG principles into the way they invest for ethical reasons.The desire to minimise risk was more of a driver for this for EMEA investors than worldwide (by 2%), while the “demand of corporate policy” was less of a factor.In terms of threats to portfolio performance, European institutional investors were most concerned about event risk, according to AllianzGI.It suggested this could be due to concerns about terrorist attacks, as well as the upcoming EU referendum in the UK.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to AllianzGI RiskMonitor report