Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Growing From Seed, Taking Cuttings, Recycling, Fall Planting

Cutting from Aronia arbutifolia - Red Chokeberry

One of the best shrubs for brilliant fall color intense, shiny, raspberry to crimson, with purplish highlights. Can also have some orange mixed in, especially in shady sites.
Native throughout most of the eastern United States and into parts of southern Canada zone 4 found in various conditions from dry hillsides to wet, almost swampy areas may serve as a fine native substitute for the invasive, exotic Euonymus alata (burning bush).


There are now many growers of native plants for the habitat gardener to find those plants which will thrive in our area and feed the local wildlife. Potted or bare-root plants can give an immediate presence that seedlings can not. But growing from seed or taking cuttings can be enjoyable and teach us much about the these exciting plants and their requirements.

Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis)

Seeds must be watered for their entire first growing season, and more mature transplants until they take root.Unlike other prairie grasses such as big bluestem and Indian grass, dropseed generally takes a long time — up to five years — to mature from seed.Plant prairie dropseed in full sun, as shaded dropseed slouches in a sort of lugubrious flop rather than the attractive proud fountain seen in thriving specimens. favors moist to drier soils, is drought-resistant, and is not found in wetlands.

Chicago Wilderness magazine

I have 4 home made milk carton containers of prairie dropseed that were wintersown this February. No seed germination until the weather was very warm, if I remember correctly in late may early June. At that time I removed the top half of the milk carton that had kept moisture levels higher inside the container. Next year I'm starting more so will try to keep better records.

Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. - pale purple coneflower

missouri plants.com
The plant grows fine from seed so there is no need to collect the entire plant, just get some seeds!
Habitat - Drier areas of prairies, glades, roadsides, railroads.

Distribution maps


This coneflower is very pretty with its droop petals. The leaves are more narrow as well giving the seedling a different look from the other coneflowers we grow. Wintersowing in milk cartons helps protect the seed from seed eater and lets me get a good look at what the seedlings will look like when they begin to self seed.

Baptisia australis - Blue Wild Indigo


Native to river banks from Vermont south to the Shenandoah Valley, B. australis is one of the larger species, making a 3' tall x 5-6' wide mound of glaucous blue-green foliage. The flower spikes emerge intact atop the newly emerging foliage in mid-April. By late April, the flowers begin to open, ranging from a good blue to purple color, with each seed grown plant being different.

Plant distribution maps

Notice the recycled red Folgers coffee cans used to make home made containers. I am not too proud to scavenge from neighboring recycling bins.
Since there was Baptisia Alba and 'Prairie Smoke' in the area where these seeds were taken there is no telling what the mature plants will look like for sure. But since bio-diversity is important and the use to wildlife is not hampered it does not matter if all are of a similar shade of blue.

We may have to resort to covering the young plants for the winter to protect until established.
I will be planting ,hopefully this weekend, to give all a chance to spread out their feet while the weather is pleasant.


Blogger Dirty Knees said...

I really like the idea of substituting Aronia arbutifolia for winged euonymus (euonymus alata). My husband is trying to grow a winged euonymus but the local rabbits keep chewing it down. Hahahaha! I wonder if bunnies have a liking for chokecherries.

21/9/07 7:23 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Hi, I can tell you the rabbits love young new chokecherry growth. As soon as the stems become thick and tough they are left alone. So I have had to use a wire enclosure around newly planted aronia for a couple of years. After which the rabbits keep the suckers to a minimum.
Rabbits do much early "pinching back" for the wildlife gardens helping eliminate much floppy growth, then moving on allowing enough time for flowering to take place on lower thicker plants.
Thanks for stopping by.

3/10/07 11:48 AM  
Blogger Ewa said...

Hi Gloria,
Thank you for introducing aronia. It is very good plant for many reasons, but its autumn colour is really lovely. I think I will get one for my garden.

27/10/07 12:12 AM  

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