Saturday, March 27, 2010

Propagation "Mid Term"

At Rebecca Sweet's tweeter's get together in Los Altos lately, to which she was kind enough to invite The Mice (yours truly and Town Mouse), I met An Alameda Garden blogger, and we bonded over propagation, so I know she will enjoy this post. It was great to meet and greet other bloggers, designers, and even garden publication luminaries, at the get together in Rebecca's stunning garden! (I should perhaps mention that I squeak, but I don't as yet tweet.)

Us mice even got us photo taken there, and you can see our mouse ears, and more about the event, and about the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show (whither we mice are headed tomorrow), on this Blue Planet Garden Blog post.

Well, in a garden you are always in "mid term" I guess... So, in the spirit of a mid-term test, here's how things are going in the propagation department.

Cuttings: D+
Things not going well on many fronts, OK on others - but learning has occurred and that's what mid terms are for eh?

My ceanothus cuttings all got fuzzy fungus and died.

[Photo omitted for reasons of good taste. We don't want to see dead cuttings!]

I had two sorts, warty-leaved Ceanothus, Ceanothus papillosus -- sort of the scrub-oak of ceanothus species around here -- and Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, the graceful small tree ceanothus.

We have quite a lot of the warty-leaved ceanothus here, hardly any C. thyrsiflorus. A neighbor let me take cuttings from her C. thyrsiflorus and told me that thirty years ago, there were many many more of them around here. We wondered together what could have accounted for their decline. It's a mystery.

My toyon cuttings (Heteromeles arbutifolia) all got crispy-crittered because they were out in the cold frame and suddenly we had a sunny day (but check out the seedlings below!). Most of the coffee berry (Rhamnus californica) also baked, but a few that were in the shade just might make it. Just a peek into the cold frame of mostly death!:


Rosa californica cuttings didn't make it. Too puny I think. My Western Azalea likewise got crispy crittered one day in its little tent, with too-strong sun coming through Rat's office window, and all the lovely promising green buds are withered. ARGH!!! And they were rooting too. Great wailings and gnashings of teeth!

Here's a survivor I think - or a well preserved corpse:


The above cutting has survived over a year, survived the storm that blew down the old duct-tape greenhouse and more - but it is not doing anything much. Looks like Lupinus albifrons, from a local wild plant. I keep on keeping it and wonder if it will actually take root and grow!

But the great news is that the Arctostaphylos tomentosa crustacea (the local manzanita species) cuttings show a little resistance to a tug, and are mostly looking good - If they survive I'll convert my grade to an A regardless of other failures!


I also have some California Dutchman's pipe, Aristolochia californica, but it's too soon to tell with them. Of the hazelnut, Corylus cornuta, maybe 4 might make it! Plus - the Coast Live oak cuttings are still looking alive and do show resistance to a tug, indicating roots, though why I want oak cuttings I really don't know. Acorns are sprouting everywhere.

From earlier cuttings that took, the Dicentra formosa, western bleeding heart, are absolutely stunning. It took for ever for their underground stem cuttings to emerge but then practically all did at different times. Also the seafoam, Holodiscus discolor, are thriving though don't look that pretty - I need to prune them but am waiting till the roots get good and strong.


Learning: Next time, I will keep the foliage much more dry while keeping the roots moist, and keep everything on the cool side (though some things might like the warmth better).

Seedlings: A +!
I'm doing much better on the seedling front

Hetermomeles arbutifolia, Toyon - lots of healthy babies from local mamas. I smooshed little ziploc bags of berries-in-water for months to get the seeds out. Those berries never did get mushy and in the end I smashed them open. But it worked!!


These are Ithuriel's Spear - Triteleia laxa

From propagation group - we were getting bulbs but I didn't want to throw away the seeds. Now I have two trays all popping up and don't know what to do!

I'm also really happy with the local hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) seeds I prepared last year and stratified for a month in the fridge - So many of them popped up! I have potted them on now.

And this little Lupinus bicolor from local seed is just busting out all over, in the big pot where I put it with single-leaf onion and bunch grass (not the best photo I'm afraid):

I hope to gather seeds from these. There are even a few more just now emerging from last year's batch:


I think they are the same sort but who knows - all my labels bleached out and I don't know what's what. Maybe I'll get lucky and propagate a L. albifrons!

I don't know what this is either::

It could be douglas iris I brought home from CNPS propagation group?

Below is a bank of Melica imperfecta on our driveway - not looking too special yet but a lovely local native grass none the less and I'd like to make more grow along that bank :


Last year I gathered seeds late - they are ready in May or earlier, in fact they are starting to show now. But a few of them came up just recently! And last weekend they filled a flat of 3 inch pots:

Woo hoo!

Learning: Never give up on a flat of seeds. You never know when one might just take it into its tiny head to germinate!

Propagation Infrastructure - aka Greenhouse A +++ !
The rains stopped, and Rat came back from a business trip and got right to it! I hope to show you more greenhouse progress in the upcoming weeks! The glass along the long side is in, the two doors flanking the "front door" are in, the rafters are painted white, and we are well on the way. The rough siding will be covered and painted with some slightly less rough siding, we've decided.

I just can hardly wait!!

14 comments:

Christine said...

Well, I'm focusing on your successes and it's so very exciting! (You'll have to do study hall for cuttings class, though)
It seems like most of your hard work squirreling away seeds, bulbs and sticks is paying off!
Would love to hear more about Rebecca's party!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Well, it's looking like the greenhouse is really coming along! Hopefully this will help prevent future 'cold-frame-of-death' episodes in the garden. Your lupine is doing better than mine. My arroyo lupine, out of 56 scarified seeds, has blessed me with a whopping 3 seedlings. Hrumpf. Oh well, maybe with practice, I can improve that. Sorry you lost your ceanothus. We have thyrsiflorus here, but we've lost a few since we acquired the property, the larger 15-20 tree forms. They all seem to have had some sort of heart rot. Although I know that in general these are considered relatively short-lived plants.

I did duck over to Blue Planet's blog...cute mouse ears! I'm heading back to the SF Flower and Garden show today. Made an unscheduled stop yesterday, and can't wait to go back! Have fun tomorrow!

me said...

i like the greenhouse so far. why paint the rafters white? i'm sure there is a reason or you wouldn't have done it.

i wish i could come across some glass like you used. i had to use sheet plastic which will work but it won't make me truly happy inside like glass would.

Concrete Jungle LA said...

I can't even stand how jealous I am of your greenhouse! I just discovered your blog and it has made my day. Cheers!

NellJean said...

Marvelous progress on the greenhouse. Fun doings at your place.

I guess I should make a list of my successes. (I rarely admit to the failures, except that I failed at rooting a tea olive, again. Wrong time of year.)

rebecca Sweet said...

I'm so glad you and Claire Splan connected - I thought you might! Isn't she wonderful? Thanks again for coming to my soiree...and for bringing those ears! Once people figured out who you were, they were SO excited to finally Meet the Mice!

Country Mouse said...

Thanks for dropping by the blog, Rebecca and thanks again for inviting us to your do. Town mouse is the fabric artist and she made the mouse ears - I think they're fabulous, and what fun to be "The Mice!" I was sorry to leave the party early indeed, but needs must. And, we'll get to wear our ears at the garden show tomorrow and bring a little smile to people's faces as we enlighten newcomers about the joys of native plant gardening and plug the California Native Plant Society.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your successes, and as for the cuttings, its a case of "try try again".

Chris (CNPS) directed me to your blog and I love it! I'm converting my front yard to natives and blogging about it as I go. I'm learning so much from your blog - thank you!

I'm going to attempt to take cutting from a native huckleberry I have - wish me luck!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Very inspiring!!! I've had little luck with my efforts at rooting cuttings.

Country Mouse said...

Hello Anon. You are actually one of the main reasons we do this blog. Just to share our enthusiasm and pass along anything we learn to others just getting into it - and to learn from other enthusiasts ourselves. Where do you blog? I'd love to read about your journey too!

Country Mouse said...

Oh, I just realized "Anonymous" does lead to your blog! I skimmed past your ski post (I don't ski myself) and enjoyed your post presenting the situation in your front yard, ripe for development into a native habitat garden. TTFN

Byddi said...

Sorry! I hadn't intended to be "Anonymous"! Thank you for persevering, and thanks also for your comment. My blog is a mix of gardening and travel, though I anticipate the gardening to dominate in the foreseeable future!

You might also enjoy my post
"Springtime – A Myriad of Miracles"

My name is derived from the same source as your cousin's. Just spelt differently!

patientgardener said...

for me this is the joy of gardening,trying to grow new plants and learning as you go. I get a real thrill when you get some success

Claire Splan said...

I am very late in following up on our conversation at Rebecca's so I've only now found this post. It was nice meeting you there and chatting about propagation, etc. And as I suspected I would be when I saw the photos, I'm so jealous of your greenhouse in progress! You will be a very luck mouse indeed when it is complete.