Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hot Weather Wrapping

I've had several questions about success rates, or lack thereof, using this method in hot weather. I'm also finding high heat not only disadvantageous to wrapping itself, but also in succeeding in bringing them from the callus stage to a rooted plant.

I'm doing my best not to use extra electricity this summer running the air conditioning when regulating windows and fans are keeping it livable. The extra 50% increase in power costs to artificially cool the place really makes a difference! The extra power also offends my sustainability senses. Whatever the source of the power being used to create the electricity, I'm not sure I want to use it, saving it for when I can't get by OK without it. So far, so good.

All this is shared to explain this...even the lovely, dark, cool work room isn't able to remain in the temperature range I've found most beneficial for callusing without using the a/c to keep it there. My experiments with refrigerating cuttings haven't been any better than the reports I've received. I'm not sure if the average fridge keeps them too cold for callus to form, but that is seeming the case. I don't have any kind of root cellar nor anywhere to create a temporary one which might provide the appropriate temperatures required, so I'm waiting until cooler weather periods to wrap any more material.

Even if I could successfully callus cuttings now, the heat we're experiencing is not conducive to being able to carry them further. When day temps remained around eighty degrees F or lower, it wasn't an issue. They formed their roots and began growing acceptably. Those patterns are gone for a while. Today, it's supposed to be 104 F here, with up to 107 by the end of the week, and they're threatening to add humidity to the mix, something we traditionally don't have to worry much about.

These hotter temperatures have sucked the life out of many of the cuttings which had successfully callused not that long ago. There are several potential causes I can think of.

It appears more dormant to semi dormant material calluses more successfully than softer, more actively growing ones do. Perhaps it's due to their containing higher levels of nutrients stored in the wood which would otherwise have been used to break dormancy when the weather triggered it? It could be the softer material doesn't have these stored resources and are more susceptible to using up what they do have just to remain alive and aren't able to form the necessary roots before they collapse. Almost like trying to force a bare root into growth too quickly, stimulating it to use up its stored resources to leaf out, form flowers and collapse. I've had many soft wood cuttings during the hotter summer months using other methods leaf out, set blooms and die, so the pattern seems to hold.

Perhaps the softer, more actively growing material has too high levels of auxins and hormones which stimulate the faster growth at the expense of rooting? My experiences using mist propagation showed the actively growing cuttings rooted in as little as seven to ten days from stems which had just dropped their flowers this time of the year. Harder wood cuttings often wouldn't root under mist in weather like this, but would root in winter at much slower rates, sometimes all winter. Those cuttings were under a regular mist of fog which prevented them from drying out and scorching and were in full sun so all green parts of the cutting were providing photosynthesis to maintain it while it formed roots and began supporting itself. Wrapping the way I have been doesn't provide the mist or very high humidity, and I have found planting the cuttings deeply in the cups or pots prevented them from drying out before the roots formed. This would reduce their ability to provide themselves food via photosynthesis while they root.

It could be there are pathogens at work we don't see as much when temperatures are lower. Botrytis and Downey Mildew can both significantly reduce the success rate of propagation no matter what method you use. Some of the results have almost looked like Fire Blight on some of the cuttings. The weather has been suitable for that issue, cool and damp, hotter and damp, repeat. The evergreen Pears are definitely showing those effects in the neighborhood.

I don't spray anything. Not a value judgement if you do as I know there are many environments you can't grow roses in without chemical assistance. Spraying just doesn't fit in with my climate, wind, allergies and sensitivities, nor budget. If it won't grow here without chemical intervention, it isn't going to hang around long. I won't spend the money for them and I'm sure not going to spend the money on doctors visits resulting from the reactions I have to chemicals with increasing regularity.

It might be possible to prevent whatever potential pathogen might be at work on the cuttings by spraying with a fungicide, or not. I won't know as I don't own any fungicides. I can't spray any with these temperatures and wind and I'm not willing to experience any potential effects I might (probably will) have from exposure to them. If you are exploring this method in a hotter area and having the same disappointing low to zero success rate and you spray, please consider including the cuttings in your regimen and report back what the results were. It might make important contributions to the knowledge base about it.

I think I'm also finding specific varietal differences to wrapping in hot weather as I know to be the case in cooler weather. The last batch of unnamed China cuttings I callused and planted have had significantly different results from each other. One rooted and began developing into viable plants, at a much lower percentage of success than earlier in cooler, damper weather, but they have seemed willing to perform. The other, handled and treated exactly the same as the first and done at the same time, limped along, complaining the entire time and all but one cutting has turned black and failed. The jury is still out on the lone survivor. Perhaps the second variety just isn't as successful at creating its own roots and possibly would be better budded than own root? Perhaps it isn't as forgiving about being pushed to root in hot weather as the first? Maybe it had a higher level of pathogen exposure then the other? I honestly don't know. This is definitely going to take a lot more exploration, experimentation and observation.

I will be very interested hearing others' experiences from other climates and from those who spray and will include the cuttings in their spray program. None of us can provide all the potential variations in climate, culture or potential fungi and bacteria. Pooling the results and observations should help to lead to the discoveries of what may work in these hotter times. At least, I hope so and I'll definitely enjoy hearing others' experiences, theories and results. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I had the pleasure this afternoon of visiting a great friend in his garden not too far from my home. While we sat on his patio talking roses (something neither of us can ever get too much of!), surrounded by his wonderful collection of rare and unusual roses, my eye kept being drawn to this mauve rose I could not identify.

I asked him what on earth it was and he looked at me rather startled! He said, "You SHOULD know that rose!" It is one of my seedlings, introduced years ago by Ashdown Roses as "Purple Poly Seedling" and later named for a friend's daughter (and my middle name), Lauren.

It looks nothing like what my plant of it looks like just a few miles west of where this one grows. But, then, I have less of the coastal fog influence than he does. My area is several degrees hotter than his and my plant blisters in full, all day sun, western exposure, where his is under lathe, receiving more filtered and indirect light. Mine is planted in native "dirt" while his grows in good potting soil, in a pot and watered much more religiously.

This is what I'm used to seeing here. Significantly smaller flowers with appropriately smaller petals as well as smaller, harder foliage.

This is what it looks like today in the higher heat.

I emailed him this photo when I got home. He responded, "It is amazing how much the same rose can differ from one location to the next. I wonder that any roses are ever identified, given that fact. And it explains how Smith sold William R Smith exclusively to 9 different guys."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ID Found!

Mike Rivers from Garden Web came up with the identity of the pretty but scary weed I blogged about last night. Thank you Mike! Buffalobur, Solanum rostratum. Remember you can click on the red links to be taken elsewhere for more information.

It IS a sort of pretty and very interesting plant, but this one will definitely go to the landfill today! Before it has the opportunity to spread itself any further. Rather remarkable that no one has noticed it previously, but now that I know, it won't be permitted a reappearance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Not a Rose, but what IS it?

The area I'm turning into my "rose garden", was a dichondra lawn nearly forty years ago. Since that time, it's been permitted to provide a home to whatever weeds wished to grow and which would endure regular weed whacking with no irrigation.

The roses are settling in, as are all manner of odd "volunteers". The Mesquite tree down the hill, way down the hill, is producing seedlings there. The Dodonea hedge I planted is also producing baby Hopseed Bushes.

Now, there is this...

Nothing I've planted anywhere on the hill produced this, nor anything I have dug or pulled. It kind of looks as if it should be some kind of melon or something, but those prickles! They are sharp and they are everywhere.

I kind of like odd plants. Solanum pyracanthum is quite happy here, and I find it rather interesting. At least, nothing seems to find it delicious! But, this thing...

It's pretty and those bright yellow flowers just do not fade. It seems to be setting a lot of "fruit". Might anyone have an idea just what the heck the thing is, please?

How soon till they bloom?

I've had several people ask recently how soon a new seedling can bloom. It all depends...

I have a climbing seedling from Ralph Moore's climbing yellow mini breeder, 1-72-1 crossed with the lovely dark purple shrub, Midnight Blue. It's a very nice plant: completely thornless, lovely foliage and very disease resistant. It is going into its third year since germination and it has yet to flower...once.

Then, you have this kind of thing. This is planted in a four inch pot, to give you a point of reference so you can estimate the size.

This little rose germinated February of 2011, making it about six months old. The seed parent is the russet mini, Suntan Beauty. The "father", or pollen parent, is my thornless shrub, Indian Love Call. My hope was to create a dwarf, repeat blooming, thornless, healthy shrub rose. This one should be repeat flowering by the fact that it has flowered at six months old. Once flowering roses shouldn't flower for another year, or two, from seed.

I love the sepals on the rose and the bud is quite attractive. I know it will be double and it's a very good bet that it will be pink! Not a favorite of mine, but if it's healthy, hopefully prickle free with a nice plant habit and frequently in flower, how can I reject it?

So, as you see, new baby roses CAN flower fairly early in their lives. Anyone want a thornless, healthy climbing rose that won't flower?