Saturday, August 20, 2011
Arbutus In August
Since moving these arbutus, Epigea repens, earlier this year, daily maintenance has been done. A sprinkler can of water was applied every rainless day. Weeds have been pulled as they first appeared. Two violet plants escaped weeding because they resembled arbutus leaves. Reason replaced wishing and the violets were removed. As is so often the case, the violet was growing right in the crown of the desired plant. Both violets were removed with no apparent damage to the arbutus. The flowers on these violets are a bright light purple and these weeds were moved to another place where we hope they grow.
We had read that arbutus forms flower buds in the fall and carries them through the winter. It is still summer but there are numerous plant signs that fall is here early this year. Several clusters of buds were spotted giving us strong hope that we will have arbutus flowers early next spring. Our apparent success with transplanting these notoriously difficult plants is due in part to the fact that we found small plants growing well away from other larger arbutus. We were able to lever out these remote plants with their entire root mass intact. There was no root connection to the larger clumps. We plan to try for more next spring if we can secure the landowner's permission.
Failure comes close by success. Rain knocked this arbutus cutting out of the soil. There is no root development at the wound site. How this leaf has supplied itself with water and nutrients is a mystery to me. With no roots nor crown this plant will be dead at snow melt. Other cuttings remained in the ground after the storm so we do not know if all of the cuttings are rootless. Soon they will be uprooted to see if there is any point in potting any of them up in preparation for winter. We plan to try taking cuttings again next year. Sand will be added to our soil mix to provide some drainage. Perhaps if the moisture is harder to come by, the cuttings will send out some roots.