Sunday, February 7, 2016

Out Of The Freezer

Becky's first response to this picture asked for the identity of the subject.  It shows a folded waxed paper envelope containing arbutus seeds.  Tucked inside of a zip lock bag, these seeds have passed months in the refrigerator.  January saw them in the freezer and now they are back in the refrigerator.  The plan is to plant them indoors next month.

Arbutus has stubbornly refused to take part in my attempts to propagate it.  More than one hundred cuttings have failed to root.  Heel cuttings taken from new growth turned brown and died.  Stem cuttings did the same.  A special rooting compound did not change the outcome.  On the plus side, it is amazing just how long the cuttings remained green when absolutely no roots formed.

Seeds have also stubbornly refused to germinate here.  Ants and rodents have eaten the sticky sweet pulp holding the seeds together in the seed berry.  The books describe how the seeds are cast aside while the pulp is devoured.  So far no new plants have appeared near our treasured transplants.  I tried planting seeds in a sterile medium near the adult plants.  Some seeds were stirred in while others were simply scattered on the surface.  In two years the only green that appeared here was a weed.

So the plan for this year is to try and get seeds to germinate indoors.  Some seeds will be scattered on the surface and the clear dome covered pots will be placed on a south facing window sill.  Other seeds will find their pots on the heating pad under artificial lights.  Expectations are very low in light of past repeated failures.  There must be a crucial step that I am missing.  It might involve the seed passing through the digestive system of a specific living creature.  If that is indeed the case, I will never see arbutus plants from these seeds.

Bright sunshine and warm temperatures had us walking about outside.  We visited our remote transplants and sat on their protective stone wall.  Clusters of flower buds are visible and we are patiently waiting for those sweet scented blossoms.

1 comment:

PlantPostings said...

Good luck! I'll be curious to find out which of your techniques will work. I'm hoping you'll have success this year! I don't usually start seeds indoors, but this year I planted some Milkweed and Zinnia seeds in a pot in the sunroom. It's not terribly warm in that room, but it is very sunny! Hopefully, they'll germinate and get a good start before spring. In any case, it's an exciting time. Spring is just around the corner!