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  1. Propagating Natives With No Greenhouse By Mike Creel Lexington, South Carolina Cullowhee Conference Native Plants in the Landscape July 22-25, 2009

  2. Wildflowers interest people because: • They offer a rainbow of COLOR&BEAUTY • They appear from nowhereMIRACULOUSLY • They live in harsh locales CAREFREE • While abundant most are NAMELESS • They are found such great VARIETY • They are seldom cultivated WILDNESS • They lived here first ANTIQUITY

  3. 5 W’s & the H - CreelWay • Why learn native plant propagation? 8 REASONS • Who can become a skilled propagator? YOU • Where can you propagate? YOUR YARD • When can you propagate? ANY TIME • What do you need? A FEW TOOL/SUPPLIES • How can you learn propagation? JUST TRY IT

  4. Nature is my Garden

  5. Why learn native plant propagation? • PRESERVE & SHARE LOCAL NATIVE PLANTS • RESTORE LOST NATIVES TO YARDS/SITES • PRESERVE & SHARE SUPERIOR FORMS • INCREASE NATIVE PLANT APPRECIATION • MAKE UNAVAILABLE PLANTS AVAILABLE • DISCOVER NATIVE LANDSCAPING • PREVENT INTRODUCTION OF EXOTICS • PROPAGATE & GROW “DIFFICULT” SPECIES • IT’S FUN, CHALLENGING, REWARDING

  6. A Natural Treasure Silky Camellia - Stewartia malacodendron

  7. WHO can be a native plant propagator? • Anyone interested, like the folks here • People of all ages, including yall • Folks with minimal space • Individuals with limited resources • Someone lacking a green thumb • One who had propagation failure • A person who has no greenhouse

  8. If I can,YOU can

  9. DOMEPOT PRINCIPLES • All outdoors, no greenhouse needed • Limit sun exposure by 64 percent+ • Use clear dome to capture humidity • Convert container for faster drainage using a 3/4 – inch holesaw drill bit. • Mix media to maintain fast drainage • Use NO rooting hormones, fertilizer, etc. • Water once weekly, if no rain

  10. Dome Pot “Tecknology” Hanging basket rescued from trash becomes a “High-Rise Holey Pot with a long life to grow cuttings and seedlings Hold-down wire& awl hole Vent Cap ON holds moisture in, Cap OFF lets cuttings transition to dry air Humidity-capturing dome made from gallon Deer Park Spring water bottle Water Entry zone – 1/2 inch minimum clearance, but wider is better Media level just above upper drain row. Drip pan removed, 3/4 inch holes drilled into bottom, 1-2 staggered rows added PERCH LOCATION

  11. CreelWay Propagation Primer • Get Ready – shade area, tools, materials • Get Set – pots, domes, media, fresh plants • Go – plant pots, water, put in shade/sun • Follow-up – weekly water, visual checks • Vent DomePots – once cuttings rooted • Repot – seedlings & well-rooted cuttings • Plant – site selection, establishment, in places plants will do the best

  12. GET READY TO PROPAGATE • Shade & Sun Areas – Select & prepare • Tools & Materials – Get what’s needed • Pots - Recycle, check economy stores • Domes – Look for bottles, Keep caps • Media – Check local stores • Plant material sources – Your garden or woods, friends, power right of way behind your home, etc., Always seek permission

  13. Shade & Sun Areas • Use a 64-75 percent shade cloth, 3 sides • Unvented domepots need 64-75% shade • Vented domepots need partial shade • Don’t rely on Nature for full shade • Sun shift may overheat perimeter pots • Grow out seeds & cuttings in sun, part sun • Cutting and seed pots need a “perch” • A deck overhang will work for shade

  14. Creating Reliable Shade

  15. Tools & Materials You Will Need • Large trowel & mini-shovel to mix media • Small utility knife, scissors to cut domes • Corded electric drill, 3/4-inch holesaw bits • Small pruning shears, wire cutting pliers • Large, shallow pot for mixing media • Awl on pocketknife for hold-down wires • Tin Snips for cutting hardware cloth • Wire cutters to trim hold-downs to length

  16. A few tools you’ll need

  17. Holey Pots – most Created, few bought • Few pots are ready to use, most need drilling • Aquatic plant mesh pots ARE holey enough • Thick-wall molded pots drill best • Drilling is easiest on a warm day • Repair cracks with clear fiber duct tape • Enlarge existing drain holes to 3/4-inch • Add 1-2 rows of drains not above 2” high • Old hanging baskets are the best conversion, since they are never recycled, just discarded

  18. Holey Pots Illustrated

  19. Creating Humidity Domes • “Prospect” for clear plastic bottles, containers, particularly in recycling and dollar stores • Avoid plastics that degrade outdoors, such as milk bottles and blue tinted spring water bottles. • Start hole with utility knife, finish with scissors • Keep a bottle’s cap to use for vent plug • Vented domes in part shade can root cuttings • Hawaiian Punch, Geyser Springs, & Deer Park gallon bottles make excellent domes • Convert containers to domes by drilling a 7/8-inch vent hole in the new top, old bottom, and using a rubber chair foot as the vent plug

  20. Domes with Imagination

  21. Media selection & mixing • Find local materials that drain well and test them • Always pre-test media & pot for fast drainage • I use: 5 - 6 parts pine bark mini-nuggets, 1 to 2 parts pine bark soil conditioner & 1 part Fafard 3, Baacto Pro or an equivalent mix containing no fertilizer • Mix with large trowel or mini-shovel to prevent separation fine and coarse particles • Never work with soggy media • Media should not exceed 3 inches deep • Media (not dry) must drain in one eye blink • Never add sand, even coarse washed sand

  22. Media Mixing & Components

  23. Cutting Considerations • Make cuttings in cool of day, early or late • Firm green cuttings of herbs in summer • WOODY cuttings of woody plants anytime • Summer & Fall woody stems, mature leaves • Winter & early Spring stems, dormant • Spring & early Summer, remove soft green • Store at 39F in inflated bag, NOT wet • Scarify lower stem, cut leaves in half • Remove bloom buds & stem end buds

  24. Cuttings are cool customers

  25. Using a DomePot • Check media drainage in a test pot first!!! • Make ID label, attach to domepot • Add 2 to 3 inches of media to holey pot • Seat dome on media, check watering margin • Add wire hold-down, threading awl holes • Move dome to one side, add humus fines • Stick trimmed cuttings into media, Water • Attach dome with wire hold-down • Let pot sit/drain before moving it to shade bed • Don’t jostle or bump pot, compacting media

  26. Pre-Assembling a DomePot • Drill new drain holes in pot or hanging basket, unless using a mesh pot • Select a dome 1 inch+ smaller in diameter than pot opening to create water entry zone • Make 2 awl holes in pot rim for holddown wire • Cut holddown wire to secure dome to pot • Add 2-3 inches of media to pot, seat dome • Loop hold-down wire around dome neck • Snug dome against media using hold-down • Check water entry zone along pot rim, 1 inch+

  27. Seed Pots thrive outdoors • Give priority to seed growing pure species • Seasonal change helps seeds to germinate • Constant fast container drainage essential • Varmint caps needed to protect seedlings • Perch pots to help drainage, stop E-worms • Use “holey pots” but taller with head space • Keep media level low to prevent saturation • Use same type media as with cuttings • Sprinkle local native humus onto media • Repot cuttings to tall pot with varmint cap

  28. Seed Pot Potpourri

  29. DomePots in Shade • Water weekly 15-30 minutes, if no rain • Check twice weekly for heavy saturated pots • Look for and try to rescue pots in peril • Pop-Up sprinklers on stands are ideal • Observe cuttings through the clear dome • Look for new shoots, maturing leaves • Rooting in 2 warm months to a year • Remove vent cap, not dome, to harden rooted cuttings, 4-6 weeks in shade • Keep domeless pots in partial shade a while

  30. Irrigation and Observation

  31. Recordkeeping is Valuable • Label or double label propagation pots • Find durable, long lasting material • Never use vinyl miniblinds for labels, they fade • Keep a notebook of plants, activities • Keep emails noting plant sources and dates • Photograph new propagation pots & labels • Avoid sun glare & flash shooting labels • Keep photos in date-named folders & subfolders • Nothing beats a graphite pencil for durability • My best labels are from offset printing plates

  32. Labels Should Follow Plants

  33. After Care of Rooted Cuttings • Moving well rooted cuttings to a more spacious pot or to a well-prepared earth bed increases survival • Repot in a holey pot using shallow Creelway media • Use a tall pot with Varmint Cap to protect plants • Duplicate ID tags from original cutting pot • Plants along the pot’s perimeter grow best • Water repotted cuttings once weekly 15-30 minutes • Water cuttings in earth bed every 3 days if no rain

  34. Views of Cutting Repotting

  35. Translucent Pot worked very well A paintable plastic flower pot from a craft store became a great propagation device after drill modification. The bar code tag read Duraco Products, Inc., Streamwood, Il 60107, 32832821157, FDMBNOCO. I bought 2, and have been unable to find others.

  36. DON’T DO THESE THINGS • Add sand to any media mix used in a pot • Use miniblinds as identification tags • Add fertilizer to cutting or seed pots • Use media more 3 inches deep • Forget to use a Varmint Cap where needed • Plant in already saturated media • Fail to pretest media/pot drainage • Expose domepots to excessive sun • Use translucent milk bottles for domes • Remove dome from freshly rooted cuttings

  37. DomePot Propagation Fails WHEN • Media too deep in pot, causing saturation • Pot water entry margin too narrow • Media too wet due to too few or small drain holes • Media dries out, under watering, over draining • Cuttings too juvenile, soft wilting growth • Cuttings stored too wet in refrigerator • Earthworms make media denser • Squirrel, birds, other animals disturb pots • Cuttings dry out before use, improperly stored • Sun overheats cuttings in dome

  38. Two pots failed – too wet & too dry Media was too deep became saturated,Larger bottom drain holes need drilling. Colander pots should work, but plastic seems not durable. Pot dried out, mediatoo shallowLong fibersphagnum moss media

  39. Success In Rooting – drainage the key

  40. My Native Plant Discoveries • Rhododendron eastmanii May White Azalea • Wisteria macrostachya“Clara Mack” white • Rhus coppalinaX“Creel’s Quintet” five leaflets • Clethra tomentosa“Creel’s Calico” 1st variegated • Stokesia laevis“Mary Gregory” only yellow • Hypericum densiflorum“Creel's Gold Star” by Dodds • Rhododendron atlanticum“Cottingham” – split-petal • Rhododendron calendulaceum“Walhalla Gold” • Rhododendron periclymenoides“Flat Creek Fuchsia” • Stokesia laevis – “Bachman Sisters” Pink- testing

  41. Domebox Rules • Measure/Draw a line at 3-inch level on side for media • Drill 3/4-inch drain holes in bottom and a side row • Water media internally at set-up & as needed when humidity collecting under lid begins to clear • Use a clear storage box with clear sealing lid • A 50-quart Rubbermaid Clear Impression box works • Two inches of media seems enough, Perch box on bricks • Stick cuttings in rows with labels stuck into media • Sprinkle native humus on media before cuttings • With box closed, water area once weekly 30 minutes • Protect with shade cloth, Add varmint cap with lid off

  42. DomeBox Details Domeboxes seem to work well for cuttings or seeds, holding warmth in winter for even tender plants. Seedling Azaleas ABOVE

  43. DomeBed Breaks New Ground • Two X3 DomeBeds planted December 2006 & March 2007 • Humidity domes made from 66 & 58 gallon clear boxes • Two 1.5-inch vent holes were plugged with rubber chair feet • Ground bed tilled mixing soil & local rotted pine humus • Initial shade partial - a strip of medium density shade cloth, later upgraded to full shade cloth coverage on all four sides • After set-up watering, boxes were watered once weekly from outside with moisture migrating to boxes’ center • Late spring sun overheated domes, temp above 85 F by midday, • Drought pulled water from domes, vent holes used to water • DomeBed worked well through winter but needed rethinking • Significant plant survival, but Domebeds are being upgraded

  44. DomeBed Renewal Plan Survivors July 2009 For a successful DomeBox plant in late fall not directly in soil but into Creelway media held captive in a lined bed 1-2 feet larger than box to concentrate moisture and separate media from wicking of woods soil. Shade with supported 64-70 percent cloth. Cuttings in original DomeBed were Chapman's Rhododendron, banana shrub, Camellias, variegated Gardenias & Rhododendron hybrid Whitestone

  45. Propagating Both Native Stewartias • Stewartia malacodendron & ovata, known as Silky Camellia & Mountain Camellia • Woody stems at bloom time with mature leaves • Remove soft leaves, new growth, end buds • Trim leaves in half, spring, summer, fall • Leafless dormant stems winter, early spring • Sprinkle local humus from Camellias on media, • Use a large pot and 1 gallon dome for leaf expansion • Fast drainage, shallow media CRITICAL • Try square mesh pots used in garden ponds • Repot cuttings to holey pots, shallow media, perch

  46. Stewartia malacodendron & ovata

  47. Propagating Choice Dogwoods • Stems with mature leaves summer & fall • Leafless dormant stems winter, early spring • Woody stems with green firm, Y-shaped • Trim leaves in half angled, remove any damaged • Remove bloom buds, end buds, soft growth • Fast drainage, shallow media CRITICAL • Sprinkle dogwood humus onto media • Use THE standard CreelWay media mix • Select choice forms for berry color, fragrance, leaf shape, flowers, habit, vigor

  48. A Few Choice Dogwoods Dogwood’s true flowers are Yellow. Bracts are white

  49. Magnolia macrophylla, by seed for now

  50. Propagation Ethics & Etiquette • Obtain plant materials legally, ethically • Do not hoard information or plants, SHARE • Share successes with friends, nurseries • Restore Nature to your home landscape • Teach others what you have learned • When something fails, find out why • Do not steal credit that is due to others • Do not carry a plant unshared to your grave • THE END – Time for Questions • Your BEGINNING as a propagator