Wednesday, January 3, 2018
First Garden Order of 2018
Propagating treasured plants by rooting cuttings has to date presented one failed attempt after another. For example, Trailing Arbutus has been successfully transplanted here three separate times involving 12 different plants. Rooting cuttings of this plant has been attempted several times and every last cutting has died. An amazing trait of this plant is how long it takes for the cutting to totally die. For weeks the cutting looks alive and that offers hope that a new plant has been created but its dead stick reveals absolutely no root growth. In the end its death is obvious.
My well worn copy of the highly informative and lavishly illustrated book The New England Wild Flower Society Guide To Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada written by William Cullina contains instructions for growing new Arbutus plants from cuttings. My repeated attempts to follow those instructions always ended in failure. Then I found an article entitled Propagating and Transplanting Trailing Arbutus or Mayflower (Epigaea repens) also written by William Cullina in which he confessed to using rooting hormone #2. My resultant internet searches for rooting hormone #2 revealed the existence of such a product but it was listed for sale only in large quantities, suitable for thousands of cuttings, carrying a hefty price. I was tempted to pay the price but wondered just what use could be made of that much magic powder.
Just the other day I stumbled across an offer listing reasonably sized containers of all three strengths of rooting hormone. At 25 grams each, these were perfect for home use. The cost of international shipping, the hydroponic growing supplier is located in Canada, is rather high but is the same for one container or three. My decision was made. The package was delivered today.
This year I plan to try rooting cuttings taken from only male Arbutus plants. This is not a sexist decision but rather one based upon the reality of the genders my plants. My early attempt at transplanting these wonderful plants was successful but I was unaware of the existence of both male and female plants. As a result, I have way more male plants than female plants. If the planned cuttings root, they will be planted out under a row of White Pines that were set out more than three decades ago, spaced so that an occasional female plant can be placed between the boys. The female cuttings will be taken the following year only if this year's planned cuttings root. A huge line of Arbutus plants under these relatively young White Pines with the possibility of naturally producing seed would be a wonderful outcome for our years spent on this piece of land.
These laudable pure intentions exist in contradiction of my plans for compound #3. A single highly invasive alien plant grows into the lane near the Arbutus wall planting. Autumn Olive is on several do not plant lists and is generally unavailable in light of its horrid reputation. Early each summer this bush is covered with sweet smelling white flowers. My single old plant has undergone extensive rude prunings to keep the lane open for those holding a right of way to pass here. This bush is nearly done so hardwood cuttings are its only chance for a next generation. My abandoned fields are being taken over by another invasive alien, Japanese Honeysuckle, so adding another invader to the mix does not seem completely evil. I am getting ahead of myself since I remain zero for hundreds of cutting attempts. I also intend to try Pinxter cuttings. If successful those new native plants should offset some of the evil karma that will undoubtedly follow new Autumn Olive plants.