Propagation Porn


Yes, every now and then I like to throw a little sex into our native plant blog. Plant sex that is. And not just any plant sex - WILD plant sex!! Yes -- that's what gets my plant juices flowing! Yours too? How did I guess! Read on....

(And don't miss the bottom (snicker) of this post for a Santa Cruz event Sept 12 2016.)

It's not just the coy flowers, here seen peeking through the poison oak, that pique our prurient interest.

Dudleya lanceolata blossoms peeking through poison oak.
There are many species in the Dudleya genus. All are known as liveforevers.

It's what follows...

Boudoir picture of Dudleya Lanceolata seed heads.
(lying languorously in my plastic collection bag)
Seeds themselves are tiny. I crumbled up the seedheads and removed the big bits of chaff. 


And what followed that -- GERMINATION! Especially outrageous germination rates like this!


I did nothing special - just sowed into a mix with some sand, sowed crumbled up seed heads, sprinkled a little sand on top to settle them in (not like a whole layer even) and - voila! Within a couple or three weeks there they were!

And what fabulous grow-out rates - look at these wonderful plants...


Dudleya lanceolata mostly in 2" pots! Note the long lanceolate leaves.
I hadn't noticed how tight-packed they had become - so I spread them out to give their leaves room to grow to the natural shape. (BTW the huge leaf overarching isn't a monster dudleya - it's some kind of huge aloe I planted long ago.)

Now - look at these Dudleya, from the same seed source. Quite a bit different!

Some of these miscellaneous ones are growing in odd shapes - maybe because of overcrowding.
This photo shows them after I spaced them out yesterday.

But wait - there's more (and another tray that's half full besides!) These will be potted up in the next couple of days.

I have planted some out in the garden already. The ones I planted in shade to semi-shaded areas are doing the best so far. (When it comes time to flower, I bet the ones in the shade don't do as well as the semi-shade ones - it'll be interesting to see).

Soon after planting. They are bigger now.


This one is one of the broader leaf sorts. It's in a wheelbarrow with a sedge and a paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) which has since bloomed.

Here's a photo of that assemblage I took today, showing the Castilleja in bloom!

They love container life! Look how different the left and right one look. Also how they are growing those deformed looking leaves. Both are a bit broader than the very lanceolate ones that are more common.


Here are the mature (parent) plants,  Dudleya lanceolata in the wild, just down the road from me


The local Dudleya lanceolata plants I gathered from were on a steep road-cut which gets quite a bit of shade.

Here you can see two leaf forms - upper plant broader than the D. lanceolata I mostly saw. It's a mystery!


Regarding the variation in leaf shape... Most are indisputably Dudleya lanceolata, but others have a broader blade. They could possibly be hybrids of D. palmeri or D cymosa, based on observing the broader-leaved species in this query to Calflora that shows all native Dudleya spp. growing in Santa Cruz County. Or, since Dudleya are famously happy to mate with other species in their genus -- they could be hybrids of some exotic Dudleya planted in a nearby garden, I don't know if I can ever be sure. Or they may be examples of other species, and not hybrids. I'll have to wait for some flowers to provide more information that may be diagnostic.

Regarding the plants that grew up weird (Well they say, "Keep Santa Cruz Weird!"),* some seem to grow naturally with their leaves crumpled or twisted or rumpled. But then too, as I worked yesterday I realized I had to space them out more because they were all growing into each other and possibly deforming each other's growth.

In fall, I'll plant out a whole ton more, and in the meanwhile, I'll be sharing these with my neighbors so our local Dudleya lanceolata can thrive locally!

Oh - local readers -- I nearly forgot!!

 On September 12 2016, at 7:30 pm, in the meeting hall of UCSC Arboretum -- Stephen McCabe will be addressing our local chapter with a slide show and talk entitled, "Conservation of Liveforevers: Threats and New Species. Stephen wrote the Jepson section on Dudleyas and is the Emeritus Director of Research at UCSC Arboretum. And he's a really nice chap. If you're around - do come for a good talk. Who knows, maybe I'll bring some dudleyas to give away!

See our CNPS chapter Events page before Sept 12 for more details (the link always takes you to the current event).


*I just love it when I get so many punctuation marks in a row!

Comments

Ed Morrow said…
Hi,

Great post, and once again generating great amounts of horticultural envy.

Could you provide more detail on how you germinated the seeds? What was the starting mix, just sand? Did you use bottom heat, and how and how often did you water?

A while back I saw some spectacular beds of dudleya brittonii at Succulent Gardens in Moss Landing, and I'd like to give them a try.

Thanks for the help.

All the best,
Ed Morrow
Carmel Valley
Country Mouse said…
Hi Ed, thanks! It was a fun post to write. I mixed about 1/3 organic potting soil with 1/3 perlite and probably 1/3 vermiculite - or perhaps sand. I kept it a lean mix, that I recall. No heating mat. Just put them in the greenhouse - I don't know if that extra heat helped. Sometimes I think it can get too hot for native plants in there.

I've tried in prior years and had little success, doing pretty much the same thing. I don't know what to say about this year.

When I cook it's the same thing - if only I could remember what I did to make a particular dish tasty, maybe I could do it again. or maybe it was just the ingredients were particularly fresh.

I should get back to keeping better records, I know. Thing is, I'm not sure how much the specific potting mix matters. I know there is a special potting mix for cactus that is more alkaline -- but I'm not sure our local succulents have an alkaline soil. In general our soils seem a bit acidic around here, from all the redwoods.

I'm generous with water, perhaps overly so - watering every other day or just when I look in on them and they seem dry.

I have to get to Succulent Gardens in Moss Landing one of these days - I've heard it's amazing!

Thanks as ever, Ed, for reading our blog!
Davis Sue said…
Hi, Country Mouse! I've been saving seed from our school's California native garden all summer, and been wondering when to start planting them. I'm in the Sacramento area, which probably cools off later than your coastal santa cruz area. I figure most would start to germinate once the weather cools off, probably late October here, but also wonder if it would get too cold (we get frost here) later on and the seedlings would die. I'm going to be sowing buckwheats, heuchera, flax, mahonia, redbud, juncus,salvias gumweeds, and coyote mint. Should I wait til early spring? I've read the very few books written on propagating natives, but they tend to be vague. Any hints? Sue
Country Mouse said…
Hi Sue - and sorry for the delay in responding. It's tricky - and I think there are two answers.

1. Sow after first rains - it's still quite warm, and plants get an early start. Keep water coming in between rains so the seedlings don't dry out. That is -- supplement the rain water till they are bigger (and even then if it's sparse). They should grow enough to be frost-tolerant (if they are planted where frost conditions like their natural ones) their first year.

2. The second way is to wait till frosts are gone and sow in spring. The downside there is the plants don't have a chance to grow much before summer, and you'll have to irrigate more often than you otherwise would, and they'll maybe be more vulnerable during heat waves.

3. Actually there's a third way: sow half your seed as per 1 and other half as per 2! That sort of spreads your chances of success.

Happy sowing!