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T-bud grafting of maples

I have some standard Japanese maples onto which I’m trying to T-bud the weeping laceleaf maple. I’ve had pretty limited success, so I wonder if there’s something I’m doing wrong.
I’ve tried at different times of the year: late spring, summer. I cut a young small branch off the weeping Japanese maple. Then I cut off a leaf bud. I use a very thin slice under the bud, and cut the leaf off the stem. I cut the T about an inch long in the standard Japanese maple, and slide the bud in. I’ve used duct tape and plumbing tape. I don’t cover the bud but try to snug right up to it with the tape. I only get about 5-10% success doing this. Any suggestions?


You may want to consult the American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation manual (edited by Alan Toogood; DK Publishing, 1999), as it has detailed (and illustrated) information on T-budding and chip-budding. In the description of T-budding, the book emphasizes the importance of not pushing too hard into the bud. It also says to “sever the remaining tail of the bud by cutting into the bark again at the horizontal cut. Then secure the bud in place with plastic tape or raffia in the same way as for a chip-budded ornamental tree, leaving the bud uncovered to avoid exerting too much pressure on it.” Texas A & M University also has an illustrated explanation of T-budding.

According to J.D. Vertrees’s book Japanese Maples (Timber Press,2009), chip-budding is advantageous because it can be done at almost any time of year and uses less material per graft, allowing growers to make more trees with less. In any case, as long as your grafting knife is nice and sharp and you’re working carefully, don’t worry that not every graft takes. Professional propagators sometimes make four grafts expecting only one to take.

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Propagating Kolkwitzia amabilis

How do I propagate Kolkwitzia amabilis?


There are a couple of methods of propagating Kolkwitzia amabilis, sometimes known as Linnaea amabilis. Fine Gardening says to take greenwood cuttings in late spring or early summer, or remove suckers in spring.

The American Horticultural Society’s Plant Propagation, edited by Alan Toogood (DK Publishing, 1999) says to take softwood and greenwood cuttings in late spring or early summer. Kolkwitzia amabilis is known to root easily from cuttings, and the new plants should flower in three years. The cuttings should be “two internodes or about 3 inches long; avoid thick, pithy water shoots and look out for tips distorted by aphids. Root semi-ripe cuttings in a tray or directly in pots. Rooting takes 4-6 weeks.”


On propagating Paulownia

How can I propagate a Paulownia tree?


Something to consider before propagating this tree is its invasive potential. Depending on your location, increasing the population of Paulownia trees may not be wise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists Paulownia tomentosa as an invasive species. If you are in King County in Washington State, you may be interested to know that the Center for Invasive Species shows this tree in its Early Detection and Distribution map.

Nevertheless, directions for propagation are available. Peter Thompson’s book, Creative Propagation (2nd edition, Timber Press, 2005), states that Paulownia is best propagated by seed in the spring, or by semi-mature root cuttings laid horizontally just below the surface of the soil. I suggest that you think twice before propagating this tree.

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Germinating Gaultheria procumbens

What specific requirements are needed to germinate Gaultheria procumbens in soilless media?

Any tips on seed stratification, cultural advice, etc., etc.?


The information below comes from the website of Plants for a Future:

“The seed requires a period of cold stratification. Pre-chill for 4-10 weeks and then surface sow in a lime-free compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1- 2 months at 20 c, but the seedlings are liable to damp off. It is important to water them with care and to ensure that they get plenty of ventilation. Watering them with a garlic infusion can also help to prevent damping off. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 25mm tall, and grow them in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. The seedlings are susceptible to spring frosts so might need some protection for their first few years outdoors. The leaves remain very small for the first few years. If you want to grow from cuttings, use half-ripe wood 3-6cm long, and in July/August place in a frame in a shady position. They form roots in late summer or spring. A good percentage usually take. Division can be carried out at almost any time of the year, but works best in the spring just before new growth begins. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted directly into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.”

I consulted the book, Seeds of Woody Plants in North America by James A. Young (Dioscorides Press, 1992, rev.ed.), and the general information on Gaultheria states that cold dry storage will help maintain seed viability. G. procumbens has 6800 seeds per gram. Seeds are initially dormant and prechilling is needed for germination (from 30-120 days with a variety of substrata). Salal (G. shallon) seeds appear to require light for germination. This resource says that G. procumbens seeds should be sown in the fall.

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propagating Styrax

Could you tell me how I would propagate Styrax?


All the propagation information I found in our reference books indicates that Styrax is best propagated by softwood cuttings in June to early July (cuttings are easy to root and overwinter easily), or by fresh seed as soon as ripe, kept at 50 degrees for 3 months and then moved to the refrigerator for 3 months.

If you wish to try grafting Styrax, this link to general grafting information from North Carolina State University’s Extension Service may be of use.

willow tree propagation

Why do willow trees propagate so easily?


The technical explanation is that willows (Salix) have preformed or latent root initials that will elongate into an established root system when a part of the parent plant is removed.

If you were to take cut willow branches and make a kind of tea by soaking them in water, that water could be used as a sort of natural rooting hormone to help root other types of plants. This indicates that willows naturally contain a high level of the hormone that contributes to root formation.

on the Nearing Frame

I’m wondering what information you can give me about G. Guy Nearing, the Nearing Frame, and its use.

We don’t have any titles or subject headings in the catalog that refer to G. Guy Nearing or the Nearing Frame, but some of the books on propagation may describe it. Ken Druse mentions it briefly in Making More Plants (2000). Here is a link to information about the frame which I found by browsing Ken Druse’s blog. It refers to a book that we do have in the library:

“For detailed plans, see David Leach’s Rhododendrons of the World. For Guy Nearing’s original drawings and two-page patent application (1931), see the Summer, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society.”


propagating and grafting Ginkgo biloba

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

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.

on propagating Clerodendrum trichotomum

When and how can I propagate a glorybower? There are suckers coming up at the base of the plant.

Regarding propagating Clerodendrum trichotomum (harlequin glorybower), the book Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles Vol. I (by W. J. Bean, 1981, p. 667) says that shrubs can be propagated by root-cuttings, or by the young suckers which frequently spring from the roots.

Since you mentioned that there were suckers (gardening term) coming up around the plant, it is most likely the species is C. trichotomum and not C. bungei (one of the others commonly grown in our climate). C. bungei, according to the same source, should be divided in the spring.

Another source, Flora, Vol. 1, (chief consultant, Sean Hogan, 2003, p. 393) says regarding Clerodendrum (genus-level information) that propagation is done by sowing seed in spring or by taking cuttings of half-hardened wood during winter or summer.

Propagating vernal witch hazel

Do you have any information on how to propagate vernal witch hazel?

To propagate vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), Michael Dirr’s Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation (Varsity Press, 1987) says the following:

From seed:
70% germination after 3 months cold stratification,
75% after 3 warm months/3 cold,
81% after 4 warm months/3 cold,
85% after 5 warm/3 cold.
Fall planting improves success.

From cuttings:
Easy to root and keep alive.

Grafting is not used much as a propagation method.

The American Horticultural Society’s book, Plant Propagation (DK Publishing, 1999) says that softwood cuttings do not overwinter well. One should take early nodal stem-tip cuttings as soon as new growth in spring is 2 3/4 – 4 inches long. Provide bottom heat and rooting hormone to speed rooting in 6-8 weeks. Layering can also be done in spring. Grafting can be done in late summer.

The following is from the Royal Horticultural Society:

“To propagate by seed, harvest as soon as the fruits mature in late summer to early autumn and sow in a cold frame promptly before they have a chance to dry out. Fresh seeds may take up to 18 months to germinate. When the seedlings appear, prick them out and pot them up for overwintering in the greenhouse for their first year. They can be planted out late the following spring and will reach flowering size in about six years.
Witch hazel suckers freely and also can be propagated by layering in early spring or autumn. Layering works well, but the process will take a year.
Softwood cuttings can be rooted in the summer. Volunteer seedlings can also be potted up and transplanted.”