Six on Saturday: Schwedler Maple

Norway maple is aggressively invasive in the Pacific Northwest and the northeastern quadrant of America. It is no problem here though, and is actually rare. Schwedler maple is a cultivar of Norway maple that used to be more popular as a street tree in San Jose. I had been trying to grow copies for years. Besides propagating by cutting, I also tried grafting.

1. Double white angel’s trumpet is irrelevant to Schwedler maple. It belonged with the Six for last week, but with the addition of the picture of Rhody, did not fit. Omission of Rhody’s picture would have been unacceptable. The parent plant lives at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. The piece in this picture is a pruning scrap that became more new cuttings. Bloom is very fragrant!

2. Scion wood looks like a bunch of bare twigs because that is precisely what it is. This is an important bunch of bare twigs for me. It is from an elderly tree that I met in the summer of 1976.

3. The usual suspects. Norway maple is notoriously invasive elsewhere. The few cultivars that live here are both rare and seemingly sterile. However, one noncultivar tree seeded these five.

4. High bud grafting is not my style, but was likely easier on the thinner portions of trunks five and a half feet up. Besides, the straight trunks were too perfect to waste. It will look silly later.

5. Cleft grafting was also an easier option to more typical budding. Besides, I do not trust budding with such fat buds and such thin bark. I could not find rubbers, so used elastic from masks.

6. Rhody is about as relevant to Schwedler maple as the double white angel’s trumpet. Nonetheless, he is always the main attraction of my Six on Saturday. He is as uncooperative as always.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Six on Saturday: TWIGS!

 

The Belmont Rooster posted pictures of red mulberry that really got my attention back on February 15. The trees are native on his farm, but not here. I only remember them as decoy trees that provided berries to distract birds from other fruit as it ripened in the orchards. Of course, those that I remember were planted. I neglected to get seed or cuttings from them while in Oklahoma. I have been craving them since.

1. $8.85! The Belmont Rooster spent some major funds to get this package to me. It must be important. I already know it is very important to me! I have been wanting this for seven years. P00411-1

2. TWIGS! I got two bundles of twigs! These are not just any twigs though. They are from red mulberry, Morus rubra. One bundle is from a female tree. The other is from a male pollinator.P00411-2

3. Cuttings were processed from the twigs. There are a dozen female cuttings, and sixteen male cuttings. These are male. I was informed earlier that the female twigs were starting to foliate.P00411-3

4. Plugged cuttings are not much to look at. Rooting hormone was applied, but is not visible on the bottom ends. Only a few popping buds are barely visible in the female cuttings to the right.P00411-4

5. White mulberry was the only mulberry that I was growing here. I got the cuttings for it from a client’s tree. I do not know what cultivar it is. I have not been very impressed with it so far.P00411-5

6. The Belmont Rooster sent these cuttings from Missouri, just to the left of the center of this picture. All of Missouri is within the native range of red mulberry, which is designated by green.P00411-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday: More Recycling

 

Since lauristinus, deodar cedar and a few other species are happy enough here to naturalize and proliferate a bit too much where we do not want them, they should be just as happy to perform where we do want them. That is how we justify reallocation of such resources. We do it with other species too, just to avoid wasting them, or just because they are easy to propagate.

Norway maples and birches got canned over winter too, but I did not get pictures.

1. cyclamen – was something I grew in high school as a perennial that went bare for the heat of summer. It saddens me that it is so expensive, but also so expendable as a cool season annual.P00404-1

2. cyclamen – will get a second chance this year. They got replaced earlier because of mold, but both the white group above and this red group went out into a landscape where they can stay.P00404-2

3. ivy geranium – pruning scraps got plugged as cuttings to eventually replace zonal geranium that were mistakenly planted into hanging baskets. (That is the Pet Rock in the background.)P00404-3

4. zonal geranium – pruning scraps get plugged as cuttings also. As they hopefully subordinate to ivy geranium, those in the hanging baskets will get pruned back more until totally replaced.P00404-4

5. pigsqueak – that needed to be removed from one spot got plugged into another. Leftovers that could not be accommodated there and then, got canned for another time and another place.P00404-5

6. Boston ivy – could be a problem. We wanted only a few copies. Rather than plug just a few pruning scrap cuttings into just a few cans, I plugged a whole flat of a hundred. Most are rooting!P00404-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Blank Slate

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This tank could use some greenery . . . or maybe not.

The scrub palm incident should have reminded me that there is such a thing as too much of good thing. By the way, I do intend to grow every single seedling that germinates and somehow find homes for them all. I suspect that almost all will live in my own garden, but at least I know they will live in a good home. I have grown surpluses before, and I actually plan to do it again.

For examples, that big herd of cedar seedlings that was partly reassigned into landscapes is just too numerous for all seedlings to be accommodated. Most of what remains will get canned to be installed into landscapes later. Since we planted about as many as we possibly can here, most will likely go to Los Angeles, and installed onto embankments of the Santa Monica Freeway.

That is too many cedars; but I just can not bear to discard them as I should. Nor can I leave them to grow into a crowded and likely rat infested grove. They should be happy in Los Angeles.

Anyway, I was asked to grow a few copies of Boston ivy for a pair of concrete columns that support a pedestrian bridge. Two specimens were already planted on two other concrete columns of the same pedestrian bridge, from which English ivy had been removed. Two other specimens grow on a concrete retaining wall from which Algerian ivy gets removed ahead of its advance.

I should have just plugged a few cuttings into a can, and then separated them and plugged them directly into the landscape as they rooted. Instead, I plugged cuttings into a flat. Well, I could not just plug a few, and leave the rest of the flat empty. I filled an entire flat with a hundred cuttings. I expected a high mortality rate, but alas, almost all of the cuttings are doing quite well.

Now we are finding all sorts of concrete retaining walls and other infrastructure where we can plant Boston ivy. We are also realizing that there is a difference between ‘can’ and ‘should’. As I was dumping greenwaste, I noticed how austere this big water tank looks. Boston ivy would really appreciate all that surface area! There is enough to plant all the way around the perimeter!

Then, I thought of all the reasons why clinging vines are not allowed onto water tanks. They deteriorate the paint, which allows the tanks to rust. They allow rodents to climb up to the top of the tank, which is really not a good place for rodents. They need maintenance, which is not justifiable for landscape features that serve no practical purpose. They need (ironically) watering.

If the tank were in a more prominent location where it should be obscured, it would be best to plant dense evergreen trees, such as cypress trees, around it. Such trees would be planted at a distance, to maintain reasonable clearance. Really though, the tank is in a secluded place, where not many of us see it. It needs no landscaping, so will remain as austere as it has always been.

But, what about the cyclone fence around the water tank? All those surplus grape vines could most certainly make good use of it as a trellis! Okay, I get it. It would take too much work, and there is too much potential from problems . . . rodents, maintenance, watering, damage to the fence, and half of all the grapes would be locked inside where only a few of us could get to them.

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Fence or trellis?

Figs Are Easy To Propagate

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Some grasses can propagate by division.

The easiest way to propagate new fig trees may seem to be violent, but it works. Basal shoots that grew last year from the roots near the trunks of ungrafted trees can simply be torn out of the ground with as many attached roots as possible. These shoots can then be planted directly wherever new trees are desired, and watered in. Larger shoots may need to be dug out, and might do better if pruned down to just a foot or two tall when planted. Smaller shoots can be potted to grow through next summer, and then get planted in the ground next winter.

Tearing the shoots off in this unpleasant manner is effective for two reasons. It gets the most roots for the shoots to help the grow into new trees. It also removes more of the burl growth that produces the shoots than simply cutting the shoots neatly. Even if copies of the original tree are not desired, the basal shoots must be removed anyway. Simply pruning them away leaves more burl growth so that more shoots grow back next summer. Ideally, well maintained trees should actually not produce basal shoots.

Fig trees are innately easy to grow from basal shoots or cuttings while dormant through winter. Basal shoots, even those that get pulled without any obvious roots, will develop roots more efficiently than stem cuttings that were never in contact with the soil. However, if no basal shoots are available, stem cutting work just fine. Furthermore, grafted trees (which are quite rare) can only be copied by cuttings from above the graft. Basal shoots from below the graft will only produce copies of the understock.

Just as unwanted basal shoots and cuttings from pruning scraps can be grown into fig trees, overgrown perennials in need of thinning can be divided to propagate more of the same. Lily of the Nile, red hot poker, daylily, mondo grass, African iris, terrestrial yuccas, some ferns and some grasses are not only easy to propagate by division through winter, but many perform better if divided every few years or so, before they get too crowded. The common giant yucca develops big trunks instead of clumping shoots, but can be propagated just as easily from big cuttings.

Six on Saturday: Nursery Work

 

This is more like what I should be doing. My part time job here was supposed to be temporary, just until I went back to work growing things. It is not easy to leave. Actually, it is downright difficult. Well, that is another story. Yesterday, Friday, I got to pretend I was back at work, dividing perennials and plugging cuttings. It all came from what already lives in the landscapes.

These seasonal tasks had been delayed until the rainy season started.

1. African iris, Dietes bicolor, got plucked around the edges where it was getting too close to a walkway. These plucked and groomed scraps will be plugged directly where more are desired.P91214-1

2. Lily-of-the-Nile, Agapanthus africanus, got pulled a long time ago, and just left here on the floor. It can get split into many individual pups, but will more likely be planted as a full clump.P91214-2

3. Pigsqueak, Bergenia crassifolia, got pulled where it was creeping over a stone wall. Most was plugged back behind where it came from. Sixteen groups of three pups were canned for later.P91214-3

4. Boston ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, provided this mess when it was relieved of its stakes and groomed. It grew so fast in the first year, that there is concern about planting more of it.P91214-4

5. 100 cuttings is too many! There are only a few concrete structures that it can climb onto. It probably would have been more practical to plug a few cuttings directly into only a few cans.P91214-5

6. Cuttings would have fit better into cans too. These cuttings are plugged diagonally, leaning back toward the top of the picture, with the front row leaning toward the bottom of the picture.P91214-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Horridculture – Home Greenhouses

P91023Why do we all think we need a greenhouse? Some of us may rely on them for sheltering plants through cold winters. Some of us grow seedling late in winter, for an early start in spring. For some of us, greenhouses are where we grow plants that would not be as happy out in the natural climate. There is a multitude of uses for a greenhouse; but really, how many of us need one?

When I grew citrus trees, I needed a greenhouse. It was where the freshly grafted cuttings were rooted. (Citrus are grafted and rooted simultaneously, literally by grafting the scions to the unrooted understock, and ‘sticking’ the combination as a cutting into rooting media.) The greenhouse contained humidity to prevent desiccation, and warmth to stimulate root development.

From there, freshly rooted citrus trees were canned and moved out of the greenhouse and into a partly sheltered location to harden off. Once well rooted, they graduated from #1 cans to #5 cans, and were moved out to the field where they were completely exposed to the weather. All those acres of citrus tree production used only a few hundred square feet of greenhouse space.

Most of us are not rooting freshly grafted citrus cuttings, or many other cuttings that can not be rooted out in the real weather. Really, in this particularly mild climate, not many of us have any practical use for a greenhouse. It is just something that we believe a well outfitted garden should include, even if we need to procure a few rare and needfully tropical plants to prove it.

Contrary to what anyone says, plants in greenhouses need more work than those of comparable substance outside. They need to be watered even during rainy weather. They need the vents opened during warm weather. Most pathogens proliferate much more aggressively inside a greenhouse than outside. Greenhouses can create almost as much extra work as they eliminate.

The saran house in the picture above works nicely for a few plants that want a bit of shelter. Some plants are recovering from removal from landscapes, and will eventually get planted back into other landscapes. We grew a few of these plants from cuttings. They all get a bit of shelter from hot direct sunlight in summer, and frost in winter. We grow many more plants outside.

Shade trees, even the nearby deciduous box elders, could provide as much shelter as the saran house provides. Nothing fancy is necessary. Plants that need any more shelter than what they could get here or under a shade tree are useless in our landscapes. After all, our landscapes, by nature, are all outside. The plants that go into them must therefore be able to survive outside.

Propagation Is No Big Mystery

Layer_(PSF)All plants propagate. Otherwise, they would go extinct. They all have the potential to propagate by seed or spores. However, some are more efficient at vegetative propagation from stems or roots. Of the later, a few propagate by seed so rarely that it is a wonder that they can evolve, since vegetatively propagated plants are clones, or genetically identical copies, of the original plants.

A single coastal redwood can live for thousands of years. Before such a tree dies, it clones itself by producing adventitious stems from its aging root system. These stems mature into new trees that can live for thousands of years more, only to repeat the process indefinitely. There is no opportunity to generate and share any slight genetic variations that are necessary to natural selection.

Well, this is probably more information than any of us need for our home gardens. It is only relevant to demonstrate than many plants are happy to propagate themselves vegetatively, or are at least conducive to simple vegetative propagation techniques. This is why most nursery plants are grown from cuttings, which are merely pieces of stem stuck into media and forced to grow roots.

For those of us who are not in the nursery industry, there is a more practical way to propagate a few copies of certain favorite plants. Sprawling groundcovers and vines like iceplant, knotweed, jasmine and ivy know all about it. So do many low growing succulents. Their lower stems develop roots where they lay on the ground, and grow into new plants. The process is known as ‘layering’.

Some low shrubby plants that might not layer naturally might be coerced to do so simply by getting a few of their lowest stems buried just below the surface of the soil, with a few inches of the tips sticking up. It helps to scratch off a patch of bark about a third of the way around the buried section of stem, and apply rooting hormone. Sturdy stems can be held down with rocks if necessary.

For most plants, layered stems can be buried about now, left through winter, and should be ready to be separated from the parent plants by next summer, just after any new growth matures. New plants will of course need to be watered generously until they develop enough roots to be self sufficient. Most plants with pliable stems that reach the soil can be layered. Junipers, euonymus, euryops, marguerites, boxwoods and carpet roses are some of the more popular candidates.

Well, Well, Well!

P80106+Right next door to my downtown planter box, ( https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/my-tiny-downtown-garden/ ) just to the east on Nicholson Avenue, there is a tree well for a small London plane street tree that has not grown much in the past few years since it was installed. The poor tree is in a difficult situation. It probably does not mind getting bumped with car doors every once in a while, but bicycles getting chained to it have been abrasive to the bark of the main trunk. The location next to a Mike’s Bikes does not help. The staff at Mike’s Bikes has had limited success with promoting the use of a nearby bicycle rack instead, by displaying their own bicycles next to the tree.

The tree well collects a bit of trash that gets blown about by the wind. Weeds are sometimes able to grow up through the mulch of detritus. No one wants to pull the weeds or collect the trash because dogs do what dogs do on street trees. The crew that comes by to water young street trees through spring and summer occasionally stops to pull weeds and remove trash. As the tree eventually grows, they will cut more rings out of the grate to accommodate the expanding trunk. For now, the grate is only a few inches away from the trunk and the stake.

My planter box next door generates quite a bit of biomass. Some of it gets shared with neighboring planter boxes. The big houseleeks have really gotten around town. Two large specimens were installed into a pair of urns that flanked the front door of Mike’s Bikes, although only one remains. The nasturtiums that get so impressive through winter and into spring are even more prolific and generous with their seed. Cuttings of other minor succulents have been shared as well.

The tree well was a bit too vacant. We all know that the Public Works Crews take care of it, and no one want to tamper with that. Well, maybe. You know, houseleek and nasturtium can be so prolific. Nasturtium will drop their seed anywhere, and some unavoidably found their way into the tree well, where they grow right around the trunk. They do not go much farther without getting trampled back into bounds. A big cutting of houseleek seemed like it would be a good companion to the nasturtium, and adds a bit more substance. It grew like a weed last year before getting roasted and broken over summer. It is making a comeback now, with nasturtium seedlings appearing around the base. The Public Works Crews do not seem to mind them. Both the houseleek and the nasturtiums inhibit weed growth, and neither mind what dogs do to them. Well, well, well, the tree well gets a happy ending.