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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for ' Propagation'

PAL Questions: 24 - Garden Tools: 3 - Recommended Websites: 5

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Keywords: Germination, Propagation, Acer

PAL Question:

I am interested in the seed germination requirements of Acer triflorum and Acer griseum.

View Answer:

There is information in The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation by Michael Dirr and Charles Heuser (Varsity Press,2006):

Acer triflorum seed is "doubly dormant and when fall planted will germinate the second spring and sporadically thereafter. Seed, unfortunately, is often not sound [...] Nine months warm followed by 3 months cold gave reasonable germination. If seed is received dry it may be prestratified for 6 months and then sown. Germination is less than 1% the first year but is very good the second."

The authors state that with Acer griseum, "the biggest problem is poor seed quality" (between 1 to 8% viability). Also, seed production from an individual tree varies widely from year to year. "Seeds are doubly dormant and if fall planted require 2 years, some germinating the third year and beyond. The pericarp wall is extremely tough and dormancy is caused by a physical barrier as well as internal embryo conditions." Dirr says that he has cold-stratified seed for 90 days, split the fruit wall to extract the embryos, and planted them in vermiculite with a fair amount of success. Growing this tree from cuttings is considered extremely difficult, and grafting (onto seedling Acer griseum seems to be the easiest propagation method.

Season All Season
Date 2008-01-10
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Keywords: Rooting, Yucca, Propagation, Transplanting

PAL Question:

I have a number of large Yucca plants in my yard that I would like to dig up and transplant. I am not entirely familiar with this type of plant, but have noticed that, likely due to the age of these plants, several trunks have sprouted from the mother plant and have begun growing as what appear to be separate plants. However, these extensions are easily lifted from the ground and show no evidence of independent root development. Can I cut the new plants from the original plant and get these to take root elsewhere?

View Answer:

Following is some information that may help you in transplanting your Yuccas.

TRANSPLANTING

From Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide by Mary & Gary Irish (2000, pages 65-68)

    In mild winter climates that have hot summers, particularly hot and dry summers, fall planting is best, so that root systems establish through the mild winter before the onset of the stressful summer season. If planted in early spring, plants must be carefully watered and shaded from the sun during the summer to prevent sunburn and debilitating heat stress…When planting agaves [& yuccas], regardless of the soil type, raise the center of the hole slightly, just an inch or so, and plant the center of the plant at the top. The crown of the agave [or yucca] particularly is susceptible to infections, and when the soil inevitably subsides after planting, the crown can sink below the soil line. The practice of raising the center of the planting hole slightly is helpful in all the stemless members of both families to prevent crown rots.

    For all plants, begin by digging a shallow hole no more than the depth of the root system….Backfill the planting hole without soil amendments or with a very small amount of compost. Tamp the soil lightly as it is backfilled to prevent excessive settling later...

    Moving mature arborescent plants, such as some members of Beaucanea, Furcraea, Nolina or Yucca, is more difficult. These large plants are sensitive to root and stem disturbance, and wounds of the basal growing platform in Yucca can introduce a host of infectious agents into the plant. If possible, it is much more advisable to move such plants when they are young and nearly stemless.

PLANTING TOES & SUCKERS

From American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation by Alan Toogood (1999, p. 145)

    TOES

    Uncover the roots of a mature plant. Remove swollen buds (toes) from the parent rhizome, cutting strain across the base of the toe. Pot each toe singly in a free-draining medium, at twice its depth. Water. With bottom heat (59-68 F) the toe will root in 2-3 weeks.

    SUCKERS

    In spring, carefully uncover the base of a sucker. Cut it off at the base where it joins the parent rhizome. Dust the wounds with fungicide. Pot the sucker singly in a free-draining medium, such as equal parts soilless potting mix and fine grit. Keep at 70 degrees F until rooted (12 weeks).

Season All Season
Date 2007-04-20
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Keywords: Woody plant cuttings, Propagation, Salix

PAL Question:

I know you can plant willows from cuttings, but what about weeping willow trees? Can they be grown from a cutting (by an amateur)? If so, how?

View Answer:

Following is a suggestion from American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation, ed. by A. Toogood, 1999, p. 89.
"The most reliable method for propagating weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is by cuttings. Hardwood cuttings of vigorous willows may be as long as 6 feet and planted out immediately to mature faster than standard 8 inch cuttings. Take cuttings in late autumn from new, fully hardened wood that does not need to be very woody. Line them out in open ground, pot them, or place them in bundles in a frost-free sandbed to root. Select those in active growth in spring to pot…. Cuttings may also be taken of green or semi-ripe wood. "

Here is additional information from a British nursery called JPR Environmental:
"The best way to propagate weeping willows is first to find a mature tree that you like the look of and then go and ask the owner if you could take a small branch from it in the winter (most are happy to oblige and will tell you about their tree in great detail!).
"Once a source has been identified then look to prepare the ground. Make sure that the site is not near the house and not near any old water pipes etc. - it would be a shame to have to cut it down just when it is getting a good size. A site near water is good, willows like moist soil but do not do well in soil that is waterlogged for long periods. Dig a square pit say 18 inches wide and deep. Break up the soil and add some compost if the soil structure needs it.
"Now is the time to take a cutting. The best time of year is whenever the leaves are off the tree with the optimum being February to early March - so long as there is not a hard frost on the ground. The branch should be between 1 and 2 inches at the base and not more than 6 feet tall. Plant it in the hole that you have made, firming up the soil so that you cannot pull the branch out. If you are in a windy site it may be worth staking the tree and a rabbit guard will protect it from grazing in the first year or so."

Season Fall
Date 2008-01-31
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Keywords: Stipa, Propagation

PAL Question:

Can 'Giant Feather Grass' (Stipa gigantea) be propagated by division or by seed only? What are the requirements for successful propagation?

View Answer:

You can propagate Stipa either by division or by seed. According to the A-Z Encyclopedia of Plants and the AHS Plant Propagation books, both ways need to be done in the spring. Specifically, seeds should be sown in containers in a cold frame in spring. Divisions should be done from mid-spring to early summer.

Seeds should be sown when you can maintain a temperature of 59 degrees F. Most grass seed germinates in a week. Transplant seedlings one to a pot or cell as soon as they are large enough to handle. Transfer pots of established seedlings to a frost-free place to grow. Plant out in mid-spring.

Divisions - cut back the foliage for easier handling, then lift the clump. Shake loose soil from the roots or wash clean, to make it easier to separate them. Use a sharp knife to divide the clump into good-sized sections. Trim any overlong or damaged roots. The divisions can then be replanted in the garden.

I have also noticed that in my garden, Stipa usually reseeds itself and if you look carefully you may find some small seedlings already started, which you can transplant.

Season Spring
Date 2006-10-05
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Keywords: Rooting, Fungicides, Plant cuttings, Propagation

PAL Question:

What is the purpose of the chemical in store-brand rooting hormone? I'd rather not use anything with chemicals when I'm propagating plants. Are there alternatives?

View Answer:

The chemical in rooting hormone (usually Indole-3-Butyric acid) acts as a growth stimulator. In commercial rooting hormone formulations, it may be combined with fungicide to prevent the development of fungus/fungal diseases during the rooting process, as is the case with a common brand, Rootone, which contains Thiram (a fungicide). The Environmental Protection Agency has more information about Indole-3-Butyric acid.

If you would rather not use synthetic rooting hormone, you can skip this stage altogether, or you can try making willow water to encourage rooting instead. University of Arkansas Extension explains how to do this:
"First cut a double handful of one-inch sections of branches from willows and split each one. Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil (if you can catch rain water, that is best). Dump in the willow pieces and leave them to steep overnight. In the morning, the water should look like weak tea. Remove the willow pieces from the water, and soak the bases of your cuttings in it for several hours or overnight. If it has been more than an hour or so since you made the cuttings, cut about half an inch from the ends before placing them in the willow water."

Season All Season
Date 2006-11-28
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Keywords: Hormones, Propagation

PAL Question:

1. Which plants can be rooted only with hormone?

2. Which plants cannot be rooted, even with hormone?

View Answer:

There is excellent general information on plant propagation in The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Gardener's Desk Reference (Janet Marinelli, editor; Henry Holt, 1998), which explains which plants are most successfully propagated by seed, by division, by layering, by leaf or hardwood or softwood or stem cuttings, and by root cuttings.

There really is no resource that will provide a comprehensive list of plants that can or cannot successfully be propagated from root cuttings, but a member of the faculty here who specializes in propagation says that the key element that determines whether a plant can be propagated in that way is age. Each plant has different abilities, and some are easily rooted, such as Salix (willow), while others, like Quercus (oak), or Arbutus (madrona), are very hard to root, especially as they mature. As far as use of rooting hormone, it can help the process, and it will prevent rotting, but if you are a strictly organic gardener, you should be aware that it is a chemical substance.

Season All Season
Date 2006-12-07
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Keywords: Fargesia, Propagation, Bamboo

PAL Question:

I have a bamboo, Fargesia nitida, 'Blue Fountain Bamboo,' that seems to be blooming this year. Are other specimens of this species blooming in Seattle this year? (I heard a rumor that blooming is synchronized among bamboo plants.) Will it die? Will it produce seeds without a "partner"? I am curious since blooming bamboo isn't something you see every year in Seattle.

View Answer:

My best suggestion is to look at specialist nurseries in your area, or contact your local Parks Department to see if there are any public gardens where you can view other specimens of Fargesia.

As far as the question of whether your plant will die after flowering, here is an article abstract about this subject (which does suggest that the plant will die, but also indicates that this is a time of opportunity to propagate the bamboo).

I also found some general information about propagating bamboo from the American Bamboo Society:

Q. How do I propagate bamboo?

Bamboo is usually propagated by digging up part of a clump of existing bamboo and moving it elsewhere. The vast majority of propagating is done that way and it results in most plants of most varieties in the U.S. being clones. If you divide a bamboo plant and put it in a new location, it usually doesn’t do much for the first few growing seasons. The first two years it puts out roots in its new location and usually by the third year it starts putting out larger culms. By the fourth or fifth years it’s putting out culms as large as that plant ever will in that location, with that much sun and that much water in that kind of soil.

Bamboo flowers only rarely, (sometimes there’s more than a person’s lifetime between flowerings) and when it does, it takes so much energy from the plant it often dies. People try various things to save them, like cutting back the culms and fertilizing generously, and sometimes that works.

It can also be propagated via germ plasm. A small number of cells are taken from some part of the plant and grown in glass dishes. Ordinary people don’t do this, of course. Finally, with some tropical species, it’s possible to bend a culm in an existing clump of bamboo down to the ground, stake it and cover it partially with soil. Be sure to cover several of the nodes of the culm, as that's where it will form roots. Don't let the soil dry out completely.

According the Plants for a Future database, Fargesia nitida flowers are hermaphroditic, and are pollinated by wind.

I found some anecdotal information about propagating Fargesia nitida from seed on the University of British Columbia’s garden forum, shown below: “You can harvest the seed individually by hand. But it seems the best way to know that it is ripe is to allow it to fall to the ground, as they only fall when they are ripe. In order to not leave things to chance, it is recommended that a piece of cloth or a tarpaulin be placed on the ground, and the seed bearing culm be shaken. The best germination rate is when the seeds are sown fresh.”

Season All Season
Date 2007-01-16
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Keywords: Hoya bella, Propagation

PAL Question:

Do you have any information on how to propagate Hoya bella?

View Answer:

I consulted The American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation (ed. Alan Toogood, DK Publishing, 1999) for information on propagating Hoya. This plant can be propagated by seed in spring or summer, and by cuttings, from spring to summer.

If the seeds are sown fresh and kept moist at 70-81 degrees, they should germinate in a few days. It is more common to increase this plant by cuttings. Cut a length of stem just below a leaf node. The cutting should be 3 to 4 nodes long. Dip its base in rooting hormone (which will also help stop the ooze of sap). Root as you would a stem cutting--fill a pot with a medium of fine grit (top 1/4 of pot) layered on top of gritty cactus soil mix (bottom 3/4 of pot). Gently push the cuttings through the fine grit into the soil mix. Keep slightly damp, but not too humid. If it is not warm enough in your home, provide gentle bottom heat to 70 degrees. They should root in 2 to 6 weeks. New plants will take a year or two to flower.

Season All Season
Date 2007-04-13
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Keywords: Helianthemum, Helleborus, Heuchera, Propagation, Euphorbia

PAL Question:

I am wondering if the following plants can be divided or propagated successfully: Heuchera, Donkey Tail Spurge (Euphorbia), Corsican Hellebore, and Helianthemum.

View Answer:

I consulted The American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation book, edited by Alan Toogood (DK Publishing, 1999), and it says the following:

  1. Heuchera: by division or by seed in spring. Since cultivars may not come true from seed, I would recommend dividing your plants. Once spring growth has begun, lift the plant from the ground and remove small sections from around the edge (look for good roots, and 2-3 shoots).
  2. Euphorbia myrsinites: (Just a note: based on the USDA information that this plant is invasive in Oregon and banned in Colorado, I would think twice before propagating it. This species does a fine job of propagating itself, apparently. In general, the genus Euphorbia can be propagated by division in early spring, or from spring to summer, by seeds in fall or spring, and by cuttings in summer or fall, but if you were to propagate by cuttings, you would need to protect your skin from the sap.
  3. Helleborus argutifolius can be propagated by division after flowering, or by seeds in summer. Test seed capsules for readiness by gently squeezing. If the seed capsule splits to reveal dark seeds, it is ready for harvest. Wear gloves! H. argutifolius (Corsican hellebore) often self-seeds. Check around the base of the plant in spring. When each seedling has at least one true leaf, gently lift and transplant to moist, fertile soil in light shade.
  4. Helianthemum can be started from greenwood cuttings rooted in summer and fall, and by seeds sown in spring in a frost-free location.

If you would like further information on the relative ease or difficulty of each of these methods for each of these plants, I recommend coming to the Miller Library and looking at our books and other resources on propagation. Here is a link to a booklist.

Season All Season
Date 2007-04-11
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Keywords: Vitis, Propagation

PAL Question:

I am having difficulty propagating Vitis coignetiae. The cuttings are not taking. Any advice?

View Answer:

Here is what I found in the Plants for a Future Database:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Six weeks cold stratification improves the germination rate, and so stored seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is obtained. Germination should take place in the first spring, but sometimes takes another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in early summer.

Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, December/January in a frame. These cuttings can be of wood 15 - 30cm long or they can be of short sections of the stem about 5cm long with just one bud at the top of the section. In this case a thin, narrow strip of the bark about 3cm long is removed from the bottom half of the side of the stem. This will encourage callusing and the formation of roots. Due to the size of these cuttings they need to be kept in a more protected environment than the longer cuttings. Cuttings are difficult from this species.

Layering: This is the best method for this species.

See the Royal Horticultural Society for general layering information.

Season All Season
Date 2007-05-31
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Keywords: Propagation, Cyclamen

PAL Question:

I have a Cyclamen that blooms in the fall, so I think it would be C. hederifolium. Right now there is a clump of 1/2 in. diameter "seeds" attached to curly spirals. I'm wondering if I can harvest those seeds and give them to others. In the book I'm reading, they say it is propagated by corms, which I assume I would find if I dug them up. What should be done at "cleanup time," which seems to be about now, as there are only a few dried up leaves left, and all those "curls and pods." I've had it several years and have done nothing to it. It blooms beautifully in the fall each year with deep pink flowers. I do see tiny starts at various places in the yard, so some seeds have moved around.

View Answer:

Propagation by seed is the most commonly recommended method according to the following resources:
American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant by Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood, The Royal Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants by Christopher Brickell, The Complete Book of Plant Propagation by Jim Arbury, Richard Bird, Mike Honour, Clive Innes and Mike Salmon, The Plant Care Manual by Stefan Buczacki and Cyclamen; A Guide for Gardeners, Horticulturists and Botanists by Christopher Grey-Wilson. Apparently propagation from corms is technical and difficult. However, if you choose to give it a try, The title Cyclamen, mentioned above, does go into some detail about the process.

You can thank the ants for the tiny starts you are finding in your yard, they eat the "sweet and sticky mucilage" that covers the seed, they then leave the seed alone where it lies, ready to germinate on its own afterward. (Cyclamen) As for the clump of seeds you are finding on your plant, their dark brown color indicates they are ripe and ready for sowing. They require dark, cool temperatures for germination (43-54 F) for C. hederifolium. It is recommended that the seeds soak for a minimum of 10 hours (a small amount of gentle detergent can be added) and rinsed thoroughly. They can be sown at the end of summer and produce flowers in about 14 months. (The Royal Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants and American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation).

Unfortunately I couldn't find much information for your question regarding clean up. However, I would suggest that it would be perfectly acceptable to remove the dead leaves and seed pods, including the curly spirals that are attached to them. You can choose to sow the seeds or give them away to friends. As long as you don't disturb the exposed curled tubers that may be present at or near the surface of the soil, I think you'll plant will be fine. You may also want to consider adding additional plants that show their true colors in the summer when your Cyclamen is dormant. This would mask the appearance of your Cyclamen and perhaps dissolve any need for clean up.

Season All Season
Date 2007-07-05
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Keywords: Propagation, Allium

PAL Question:

Could you tell me how to grow Allium from seed?

View Answer:

I will assume you are propagating ornamental Allium. According to the American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation (edited by Alan Toogood; DK Publishing, 1999), Allium seeds may be sown any time from late summer to early spring. Seeds should be collected when the flower heads turn brown and before the seedpods open. If you tug gently on the flower stalk and it comes away easily from the base, the seed is ripe. Cover the spot where the stalk was removed with soil to prevent entry to pests. With smaller flowering Allium, you can shake seeds directly into a paper bag (without removing stalks). Sow the seeds fresh, or store them at 41 degrees F, and sow in the spring. Germination time is usually 12 weeks, but in some cases it will take up to a year.

The Royal Horticultural Society says that Allium cultivars may not come true from seed, so you may want to consider alternate methods of propagation, such as by offsets or aerial bulbils.

Season All Season
Date 2007-08-03
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Keywords: Woody plant propagation, Propagation, Abelia

PAL Question:

How would you propagate Abelia x grandiflora?

View Answer:

According to the American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation edited by Alan Toogood (DK Publishing, 1999), Abelia may be propagated from softwood cuttings in spring, from greenwood cuttings in late spring, and from semi-ripe cuttings in early to late summer. "Cuttings... root very readily in a closed case or mist bench. Softwood cuttings from the first flush of root growth in 2-4 weeks. In colder regions, do not pot greenwood cuttings taken after midsummer; prune cuttings into a bushy habit, but allow new growth time to ripen--if not well established, they overwinter badly. Keep semi-ripe cuttings taken in late summer frost-free. Plants flower in 1-2 years."

Here are links to general information on propagation from cuttings:

Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener, from NC State University
Propagating Plants from Stem Cuttings, from Rainyside Gardeners

Season All Season
Date 2007-08-01
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Keywords: Lupinus, Propagation

PAL Question:

I moved to New Hampshire from Missouri and want to grow lupines. Having purchased some plants, I have enjoyed many blooms. After the bloom, the flower turns into what looks like a pod with seeds. Can I replant those seeds in order to propagate them for next year, or when is the best time to plant them? Also for the remaining foliage on the plant, what should I do to maintain it? Continue to water it and give it MiracleGro for nutrients?

View Answer:

According to the American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation edited by Alan Toogood (DK Publishing, 1999), lupines may be propagated from seed between early and mid-spring. (Other methods of propagation include stem cuttings taken in mid- to late spring). Lupine seeds require some special treatment, as described by Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series from University of Minnesota:
"Moisture is important to seed germination. Some seeds are protected by a tough seed coat. Some must be soaked in water to soften the seed coat prior to germinating. Other seeds must have their seed coat nicked or pierced (scarified) in order to allow moisture to reach the seed, causing it to expand and break through the seed coat; two examples are in the legume family - sweet peas (Lathyrus species) require soaking, and lupine (Lupinus species) require scarification.

The following information from University of Washington should apply to your lupines, not just our native lupines. It suggests collecting seed from June to August, storing the seed in the pods inside paper bags, and then scarifying them prior to soaking and sowing (in spring or fall).

Lupines should do well in zones 3 to 8, depending on the species. More information on growing hybrid lupines can be found here, including suggestions on fertilizing. Choose a complete slow-release organic fertilizer instead of synthetic fertilizers like MiracleGro, which may be too high in nitrogen.

When flowering is finished, you can cut the plants down to the ground, and you may still see a second burst of growth. There is no need to water when the plant is not in active growth. (In our Northwest climate, the leaves tend to look mildewy by this time of year, and you would want to cut them back anyway). Rainyside Gardeners, a Pacific Northwest website, has additional information.

Season All Season
Date 2007-08-01
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Keywords: Paeonia, Propagation

PAL Question:

I have a tree peony that started as a seedling from a plant of a friend gave me 8-10 years ago. I would like to try to propagate mine from seed. From the little I've read, it seems this is a difficult process. Can you help me?

View Answer:

I believe you are correct that propagating tree peonies from seed may be a little challenging. It can be done, but home gardeners may find it easier to propagate by grafting, which is described by a link at the end of this answer.

The American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation, edited by Alan Toogood (DK Publishing, 1999)rates seed propagation of deciduous tree peonies as moderate in level of difficulty. Another thing to bear in mind is that it will take several years before you see flowers on your new plants. In [late] summer, you would sow fresh seeds in pots and "provide two periods of chilling, such as two cold winters, with warmth between. Seeds are doubly dormant (roots emerge in the first year and seed leaves in the second). Guard against mice: they love the seeds."

Another description of propagating from seed may be found in Jekka McVicar's book Seeds (Lyons Press, 2003):

This seed has a double dormancy, producing roots in its first year and leaves in its second. It needs two cold periods, with warmth in between.

Collect ripe, fresh seeds in early autumn. Sow individually in pots, using standard soil-less seed mix, either peat or peat substitute mixed with coarse horticultural sand. Mix to a ratio of 1 part soil-less mix + 1 part sand. Cover with coarse grit, then place outside exposed to all weathers. Visible germination occurs during the second spring. Grow on in a cold frame for 2 years before planting out.

Excerpt on propagation methods from Plants for a Future database:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame.When sown fresh, the seed produces a root about 6 weeks after sowing with shoots formed in the spring. Stored seed is much slower, it should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame but may take 18 months or more to germinate.The roots are very sensitive to disturbance, so many growers allow the seedlings to remain in their pots for 2 growing seasons before potting them up. This allows a better root system to develop that is more resilient to disturbance.If following this practice, make sure you sow the seed thinly, and give regular liquid feeds in the growing season to ensure the plants are well fed. We usually prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle, and then grow them on in a cold frame for at least two growing seasons before planting them out when they are in growth in the spring.

The Heartland Peony Society has an illustrated tutorial on grafting tree peonies, should you wish to try this method.

Season All Season
Date 2007-09-01
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Keywords: Echeveria, Propagation, Sedum

PAL Question:

I am learning how to propagate plants for my yard. I am now into Sedums and other succulents. I am trying to learn how to propagate Echeveria x hybrida "The Rose." This one has me totally baffled. Can you help?

View Answer:

First, here is some general information. The propagation method you choose for Sedum depends on the habit of the plant, according to the American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation (edited by Alan Toogood; DK Publishing, 1999). Most species will root easily from cuttings in 1 to 6 weeks.

Tender species can be propagated from leaf cuttings. Take leaves off a stem. Place on damp newspaper in bright shade at 61 degrees F. Roots and plantlets should form in 3 to 4 weeks. You can also use stem cuttings by taking 2 to 3 inches from the tip of a stem and allowing the cutting to callus for a day. With hardier forms of Sedum, use 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch stem cuttings.

The book Echeveria Cultivars by Lorraine Schulz and Attila Kapitany (Schulz Publishing, 2005) offers directions on propagating from offsets, cuttings, cuttings from crests, head cuttings, leaf and stalk cuttings, and seed.

Season All Season
Date 2008-03-22
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Keywords: Hibiscus, Plant cuttings, Propagation

PAL Question:

Can you tell me how to grow Hibiscus from cuttings?

View Answer:

According to the American Horticultural Society, most hibiscus root easily from cuttings. They suggest the following in Plant Propagation (1999, p. 131 and pp. 100-101):
"...cuttings should usually be 1.5 to 2 inches long, with two or three pairs of leaves retained at the top...remove the soft tip from each cutting, because it is vulnerable to both rotting and scorch...remove the lowest pair of leaves to make it easier to insert the cutting into the medium...make a hole in the medium with a pencil...[for]...minimal resistance...the cuttings will benefit from a warm, protected environment...when the cuttings root, knock them out of the container and gently pull them apart. Pot singly..."
The AHS suggests using rooting hormone and they also point out that due to timing, you may get 'greenwood' (slightly hardened) rather than 'softwood' cuttings; they are treated the same way.

The web page of Roz and Pat Merritt includes pictures and directions on how to take a cutting (scroll down to cuttings).

I also looked at GardenWeb, a gardening forum where experienced gardeners share their knowledge. Here is another link from this site which suggests layering, a process by which you bend a branch down to soil (usually in a pot), anchor it, and wait for it to take root.

Here is additional information about layering hibiscus, from Hibiscus World.

Season All Season
Date 2008-08-08
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Keywords: Woody plant propagation, Ginkgo biloba, Propagation

PAL Question:

Onto what root stock should I graft a Ginkgo biloba scion?

View Answer:

According to The Complete Book of Plant Propagation (Taunton Press, 1997, Jim Arbury et al.), Ginkgo biloba can be propagated without grafting, by taking semi-ripe cuttings in midsummer and dusting them with rooting hormone and potting them up in a mixture of half peat, half sand/vermiculite. Cuttings should root by spring if kept moist, and need to be planted out once they have roots.

If you wish to graft it, you need a Ginkgo biloba rootstock, which you could grow from seed if you have access to a female ginkgo tree (they are hard to find), and (according to the American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation manual) you can use a whip-and-tongue or spliced side veneer graft done in late winter. The AHS manual also recommends taking softwood cuttings in late spring or early summer for ginkgo.

There is also helpful information from The Ginkgo Pages and Plants for a Future Database, which says that softwood cuttings are taken in spring, semi-ripe cuttings are taken in July and August, and hardwood cuttings are taken in December, and all are kept in a frame.

Season All Season
Date 2008-08-27
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Keywords: Lilium columbianum, Aquilegia formosa, Propagation

PAL Question:

Last year I collected several hundred seeds from our local native columbine (Aquilegia formosa) in Thurston County. I recently planted some in commercial seed-starting mix in my small greenhouse. Could you tell me the best methods for storing and germinating these seeds as well as some of the native tiger lily?

View Answer:

In general, seeds should be stored in a dark, dry, cool place. I have had good luck storing extra seeds in a sealed jar or bag in the refrigerator, but this is not always recommended, because it is damp. According to Seeds by Jekka McVicar, columbine seed is generally viable for five years. McVicar suggests placing flats outside in fall and leaving them out all winter, since the cold helps to prepare the seeds for germination in spring. Alternatively, "in late summer fill tray or pot with compost, smooth over, tap down, and water in well. Use fresh seed (...) sowing the seed thinly on the surface of the compost. Cover with perlite or vermiculite (...)Place the tray or pot in a warm place out of direct sunlight at an optimum temperature of 50 degrees. Keep watering to a minimum until germination has occurred, which takes 14-28 days with warmth. Prick out into pots. (...) Overwinter young plants with a bit of protection in a cold frame."

Eileen Powell, author of From Seed to Bloom, suggests refrigerating the seedling trays for two to three weeks and then sinking the flats into the ground in a shady location, covered with glass, and transplanting seedlings as they appear. She also says "seedlings are delicate; keep out of strong sunlight and water gently."

Neither of these authors discusses our native columbine. However, Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants by Robin Rose et al. suggests an easier method for Aquilegia formosa: "Seeds can be stored for up to two years at a low temperature and humidity or longer in sealed containers in low moisture. Prechilling for three days is required for germination. Direct seed in spring or fall. (...) Plant in containers or scatter evenly over a seedbed (this is made easier by first mixing the seeds with fine sand). Cover with a very thin layer of soil or weed-free compost and keep moist. Seeds should germinate in two to four weeks."

As for propagating the native tiger lily, Lilium columbianum, Plants for a Future database provides directions, excerpted here:
"Seed: autumnal hypogeal germination. Best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame, it should germinate in spring. Stored seed will require a warm/cold/warm cycle of stratification, each period being about 2 months long. Grow on in cool shady conditions. Great care should be taken in pricking out the young seedlings, many people leave them in the seed pot until they die down at the end of their second years growth. This necessitates sowing the seed thinly and using a reasonably fertile sowing medium. The plants will also require regular feeding when in growth. Divide the young bulbs when they are dormant, putting 2 - 3 in each pot, and grow them on for at least another year before planting them out into their permanent positions when the plants are dormant. Division in autumn once the leaves have died down. Replant immediately. Bulb scales can be removed from the bulbs in early autumn. If they are kept in a warm dark place in a bag of moist peat, they will produce bulblets. These bulblets can be potted up and grown on in the greenhouse until they are large enough to plant out. Stem or leaf cuttings."

Here is what Kathleen Robson et al. have to say in Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes (Timber Press, 2007): "Propagation: collect seeds in the late summer after capsules have ripened. Plant them within a few weeks of harvest, either directly into the garden or into deep containers, and leave them outside in the cool, moist winter weather for germination the following spring. Seedlings will take several years to reach flowering size. Those that were sown in containers can be left in them for part of that time; it may be easier to protect them from slugs."

Season All Season
Date 2009-04-11
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Keywords: Ginkgo biloba, Propagation

PAL Question:

How can I grow a ginkgo tree from seed?

View Answer:

According to the American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation (DK Publishing, 1999), seeds may be sown in late winter. Gather the ripe fruit of the female tree in mid-autumn, and clean off the pulp. Then wash the seeds with mild soap to remove germination inhibitors, and store the seeds in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 days before sowing outdoors in containers. Here is more information from Plants for a Future:
"Seed: best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a sheltered outdoor bed. The seed requires stratification according to one report whilst another says that stratification is not required and that the seed can be sown in spring but that it must not have been allowed to dry out. Germination is usually good to fair. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the following spring and consider giving them some protection from winter cold for their first winter outdoors."

The Ginkgo Pages website also has useful propagation information.

Season All Season
Date 2009-05-28
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Keywords: Vegetative propagation, Dierama, Propagation

PAL Question:

Could you provide some information on the propagation and division of Dierama (not sure if the species I have is D. pendulum or D. pulcherrimum. It has pink flowers and is also known as Angel's Fishing Rod)? The clump has gotten large and I'd like to see if I can divide it now in fall.

View Answer:

The Royal Horticultural Society has an advice page on how to divide and propagate Dierama.
Excerpt:
Named cultivars can be propagated by division in spring or immediately after flowering; but this should only be undertaken occasionally as plants are slow to re-establish. Plants grow from corms that build up year by year into chains, similar to Crocosmia.

  • Lift plants and separate corms, reducing the foliage by half with secateurs.
  • Take care not to damage the brittle, fleshy roots.
  • Divisions take one to two years to flower freely again.
  • For an answer from local experts, I consulted Perennials: The Gardener's Reference by Carter, Becker, and Lilly (Timber Press, 2007). The authors say that "it's best not to transplant, divide, or groom in the fall." Instead, if you must divide, do so in April or May and include several corms in each clump. You can also sow ripe seed at that time. Seed may be harvested by shaking the stems.

    Season All Season
    Date 2009-11-07
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    Keywords: Asparagus, Propagation

    PAL Question:

    I planted young asparagus plants a couple of springs ago. This past fall, one of the plants produced fruits (small red balls like I've seen on Asparagus sprengeri.) I looked in my Hartman and Kester, but it did not mention means of using asparagus seeds to make more plants. Can this be done? If I left them on the plant outside all winter, are they still viable?

    View Answer:

    According to Franklin Herm Fitz in A Gardener's Guide to Propagating Food Plants, it is possible to grow asparagus from seed, but possibly not if the seeds have been out in freezing weather:
    "Collect the red berries from two-year-old or older female plants, harvesting before the first frost. Crush the berries and separate the seeds by hand (the seeds are large, shiny, and black) or by immersing them in water. The pulp will float as the seeds sink. Dry the seeds for 2 to 3 weeks. In the spring grow the new plants in deep, loose soil. After one season transplant them to a permanent bed (...) in early spring before growth resumes or in the fall after growth has ceased."

    Alternatively, as you probably know, asparagus roots may be divided and replanted, with the knowledge that each smaller root will take a year to become established so that it can produce a good crop.

    Season All Season
    Date 2010-02-25
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    Keywords: Primula, Propagation

    PAL Question:

    I have some Primulas I would like to propagate, specifically Primula elatior and Primula veris. What is the best method, and when is the best time?

    View Answer:

    The timing will depend on the propagation method you choose. The American Horticultural Society's Plant Propagation (edited by Alan Toogood; DK Publishing, 1999)says that division is done in early spring or after flowering; however, this method is not recommended for any species except Primula vulgaris and Polyanthus primroses. Although division is a healthy practice for some species, it can weaken others.

    You can raise your primroses from seed, which has the benefit of being a virus-free propagation method. This is done in either mid-spring or in late summer to fall(the later time period is rated as easier than the earlier). However, Primula elatior, Primula veris, Primula vulgaris, and candelabra-type primroses may hybridize if you do not isolate them. Depending on your outlook, this could be a problem or an opportunity. The seeds are best sown when fresh, in a well-drained, moist soil mix rich in organic content.

    There is some propagation information in this Alaska Master Gardeners article by Mary Jo Burns, entitled Growing Primula in South-Central Alaska. You may want to see if your area has a chapter of the American Primrose Society. Members of the Society have access to informative articles about all aspects of primrose cultivation.

    Season All Season
    Date 2011-04-21
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    Keywords: Cross-pollination, Fragaria, Propagation

    PAL Question:

    I have organic Rainier strawberries in a raised bed. I'd like to plant organic everbearing strawberries in the same bed. Is there a problem with cross-pollination? What would be your recommendation for the best strawberry varieties to plant in Seattle?

    View Answer:

    Strawberries can reproduce by runners or by seed. Those which are reproduced by runners will be clones of the parent plant, but those which grow from seed may cross-pollinate.

    Here is more information from the Royal Horticultural Society.
    Excerpt:
    "Strawberries can be propagated in late summer, but no later than early autumn, by sinking 9cm (3.5in) pots filled with potting media, such as general-purpose potting compost, into the beds and inserting individual runners into them. Sever the new young plants from the parent plant when rooted. Perpetual strawberries produce few runners and new plants are best bought in annually.
    "Seed-raised cultivars are available but are not recommended*, except for alpine strawberries."
    *I suspect this is because you can't know what the resulting new generation of strawberries will be like--tasty or not so tasty.

    So I think as long as you harvest your fruit, and don't let fruit ripen and drop into the bed, you can allow runners to produce new plants and they should be the same varieties as their parents. That being said, it's usually good to replace strawberry plants after a few years, just to keep disease problems down (the RHS link above says to replace every 3 years or so).

    I've had good luck with Shuksan (June-bearing), and I think I may have grown Tristar (ever-bearing) before, too. Washington State University Extension has an article which recommends these varieties and several others. Here is information from Oregon State University about growing strawberries.

    There are many more varieties listed in the Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles (2010). If you are looking for sources, you might try your favorite local nurseries, but also mail order nurseries like Raintree, Cloud Mountain Farm, and Burnt Ridge. The Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February often has vendors selling strawberry plants.

    Season Summer
    Date 2012-07-18
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    Keywords: Shrubs, Seeds, Seed dormancy, Propagation, Perennials, Herbs, Grasses, Ferns

    Garden Tool: A book by Jekka McVicar called Seeds: the ultimate guide to growing successfully from seed (Lyons Press, 2003, $22.95) will help you turn your seedy hopes into plant reality. Thirteen chapters are divided by types of plant including ferns, grasses, shrubs, perennials and herbs. The practical information that applies to all kinds of seeds, such as what type of soil to use, and how to break seed dormancy, is included in the last chapter. Color photos illustrate throughout. For online tips for seed starting go to:
    www.taunton.com/finegardening/pages/g00155.asp from Fine Gardening Magazine
    http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0170/pnw0170.pdf from Oregon State University.

    Season: All Season
    Date: 2006-03-01
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    Keywords: Propagation, Budget gardening

    Garden Tool: Having a hard time supporting your plant habit? Or maybe you rent your house and don't want to invest money in a garden you may leave in a few years? You could get a part time job at a nursery where you'll receive a discount on plants and get first dibs on the many scrappy-looking plants that end up in the dumpster. Or, you could read one of these fine books:

    Plants for Free: how to create a great garden for next-to-nothing by Sharon Amos (Time-Life, $16.95) focuses on simple propagation methods and includes a mini encyclopedia of plants that are easy to divide or start from seed or that root from cuttings. Self-sowing annuals are featured, including Pot Marigold, Lady's Mantle, Honesty and Rose Campion.

    The Frugal Gardener: how to have more garden for less money by Catriona Tudor Erler (Rodale, out of print, but available used online) also teaches about propagation in addition to chapters on soil, cutting maintenance costs, and budget design. The chapter on cost-conscious garden projects gives detailed instructions on building pathways, rustic trellis and PVC pergola.

    Frugal Tip: Create mini-greenhouses for frost tender plants in the spring by wrapping a wire tomato cage with clear plastic punched with a few holes for ventilation.

    Online articles on budget gardening:
    frugalliving.about.com/od/gardeningfrugally
    www.gardenguides.com/articles/budget.htm

    Season: All Season
    Date: 2007-06-08
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    Keywords: Sarcococca, Plant cuttings, Salvia, Lavandula, Propagation, Rhododendron, Gaultheria shallon, Penstemon, Holly, Cistus, Ceanothus

    Garden Tool:

    Make new plants by taking softwood cuttings. Cuttings Through the Year, a booklet published by the Arboretum Foundation(available for sale at the Washington Park Arboretum gift shop) suggests which plants to propagate month by month and how to do it. A few September plants include: Rock Rose, Salal, Lavender, Holly, Penstemon, evergreen azaleas, Sweet box, Salvia, California Lilac and many others.

    For a tutorial on taking softwood cuttings go online to a Fine Gardening article complete with clear color photos: www.taunton.com/finegardening/pages/g00002.asp

    Season: All Season
    Date: 2006-10-23
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June 24 2013 12:55:25