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PAL Question

We've lived in the Northwest for years and love madrone trees. Yesterday, we "rescued" two madrone trees from a construction site with the hope of transplanting them to our Seattle garden. After reading more information on madrone transplanting, I don't think it's an easy task. Do you have more information on this subject?

Answer

I've seen several references to madrone trees being difficult to transplant. This one is from Wikipedia: "The trees are difficult to transplant and a seedling should be set in its permanent spot while still small. Transplant mortality becomes significant once a madrone is more than one foot (30 cm) tall."

According to Native Plants in the Coastal Garden (April Pettinger, 2002), "Arbutus seedlings do not like to be transplanted because they have a single, long taproot." However, she does suggest they are not difficult to grow from seed by planting the whole berries in fall where you want the tree to be, and pulling up any extra seedlings that arise. According to Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants (Robin Rose et al, 1998), the seedlings will grow only a centimeter a year at first.

Even if the trees aren't looking great, it might be worthwhile to plant them and see if they come back from the roots, as they tend to have an underground burl that can re-sprout after the original trunk dies.

You might also try contacting the King County Master Gardeners, whose phone clinic can be reached at 296-3440.

Keywords: Woody plant propagation, Transplanting, Arbutus menziesii
Date: 2007-10-01

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