So when they put forth red juicy berries last September, I snagged a handful and looked up how to propagate hairy honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula var. vacillans (at least I think it's var. vacillans) in Seed Propagation of Native California Plants by Dara Emery.
He says you should separate the seeds from the berries and keep them in the fridge, with a bit of damp peat, for a month. I blogged about that season of propagating from seeds here.
Here's the smooshing process of getting the seeds separated from the berries:
Actually they stayed in the fridge for three months - them and the leftover marinara sauce - you know how that goes. When I finally looked at them they were germinating already, and I put them in flats that very day.
That was January 29th. By February 7th a few sprouts had appeared. I potted them on and they continued to thrive. Here's one on March 26th after a storm, cradling a huge water droplet. Must be all the tiny hairs supporting the water:
Here they are May 16 just before I potted them on to gallon pots:
I took one out to check its roots. They are ready to pot on when their roots are nicely filling the pot, but not yet coiling around.
I think they could have gone a bit longer, but there were certainly healthy roots well distributed through the pot. Some had more roots than this baby. And here they are a week later, still happy and unconcerned:
I have about three dozen. I'm not sure what to do as they get bigger and start to twine!
Here is what Las Pilitas web site tells us about Lonicera hispidula:
A climbing deciduous shrub with large pink flowers. Native throughout much of California and up into Washington. California honeysuckle can handle full sun to shade. It's drought tolerant. Use as a bank filler or groundcover. It has an edible berry but bitter. It seems to be deer proof. Hummingbird flower. It is hardy to about -10 to -15 degrees F. Its red berries are relished by the birds. Flowers yellowish at base, pinkish, in upper portion, grows in oak woodland, good in clay soil, with Symphoricarpos mollis, Salvia spathacea, Rhamnus ilicifolia, Heteromeles arbutifolia, Quercus agrifolia (dominant)
Sounds great, yes? And they have thirty for sale. So why are then are they not more available for garden use? They are not even listed in California Native Plants for the Garden (Bornstein, Fross and O'Brien).
Well, they do have an open, gangly growth habit, and thick stems.
And their stems sprawl around in an untidy way.
And here is the reason they were used by Pomo , Kashaya, and other native peoples to make pipe stems:
Sturdy, hollow stems. Apparently the native folk also burned wood ashes to make a paste for tattooing too.* Good to keep in mind in case I get the urge to smoke or tattoo myself while far from a convenient retail outlet. One never knows.
I am, however, more likely to to use them to clamber over open areas where we've cleared weeds, as well as to clamber into trees where I want to create somewhat of a privacy screen at the edge of the woodlands where they border the road, and also I'd like to share them with neighbors.
I also do want to try one or two in a garden setting, training them up a narrow trellis that I envision going up to the upper deck so they can then branch out along the upper deck railing. Maybe not the best for fire safety but then neither is having an upper deck, period.
My theory is that if you twine two or three together, and also pinch prune them to get more branching, they may appear denser and flower more. Also I put a few of those little fertilizer pellets in the pots, which I hope will give them a boost.
We shall see what happens by next October, when I think they will be well ready to leap forth with vigorous joy.
*Goodrich, Jennie and Claudia Lawson 1980 Kashaya Pomo Plants. Los Angeles. American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles (p. 56)