Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seeds And A Cutting

We have been paying attention to the arbutus plantings and were aware that seeds were forming.  Today was chosen as the day to document this always thrilling development.  The now blackened stigma has completed its mission.  When it was green and glistened with moisture, sufficient pollen was captured on its five pointed star to begin the process of seed formation.  The reddish colored hairy stem next to the four developing seed berries is new growth.  It is truly impressive that these female plants can produce both seed and new growth at the same time.

The withered remains of a spent flower hangs caught on a style.  Both have completed their reproductive tasks so nothing will come of this.  It does show the color of the dried blossom.  The expanding seed berries are pushing past the white membranes that previously covered them.

This hole held one of the four stones placed to support the protecting cage.  It was an accident waiting to happen as it tended to tip over when I tried to use it to support me as I leaned in to do necessary maintenance.  It was removed to clear the way for a replacement providing a view of what goes on underground.  I have long feared that root damage during transplantation might be a cause for commonly reported failure so I have yet to see arbutus root structure. That is still the case since the plant parts seen are unrooted new growth.  A new stone quickly filled the hole preserving the status quo.

My past failures with attempting arbutus cuttings have been documented here.  The recommended rooting hormone is expensive and available only in large quantities so it have never been used here.  This attempt features young willow stems soaked in water as a rooting medium.  Having recently read that now is the time to take cuttings we are making another attempt.  That method may require that the cut be made in front of the first leaf and the emerging new stem but this is what was done.  This complex part of the plant was new growth formed last year.  This is where the flower buds formed in the fall and where new growth starts at this time of year.  It may also be the location of new root growth as this stem moves away from the crown of the plant.  The plants natural tendency to send down roots here may make this attempt at a cutting successful.  If this attempt fails, the next try will involve pinning the stem firmly to the ground with a U shaped piece of wire and cutting the stem the following year.  I really want to be successful at growing new plants.  To date, no seeds formed here have sprouted and no cuttings have rooted.

This is the device that will be used this time.  There is no provision for ventilation so we will remove the cover briefly if excess moisture collects on the container.  We plan to remove it occasionally so that more willow water can be added to the soil.  We will report the outcome of this attempt even if it is just another failure.

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