Let it Grow: Now is the time for plant propogation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense) has become increasingly popular in the landscapes across Alabama. You&8217;ll find it in home gardens, commercial properties and roadside plantings.

It has green to purple leaves with downward-pointing tassel-like flowers of pink to purple on most of the plants you find in the nurseries today. Loropetalum varieties can range from tall tree sized plants to ground cover or cascading varieties.

I have the semi-dwarf variety, Chang&8217;s Ruby, in my landscape.

Loropetalum is evergreen and displays a showy burst of flowers in the spring, but blooms can sometimes be found on these beautiful shrubs most any time of the year.

Though we&8217;ve discussed Loropetalum before, we haven&8217;t covered propagation. Today, we&8217;ll explore the possibilities of growing Loropetalum from seeds.

Right now on most plants, seed pods have appeared and are ready for harvesting. These pods are usually within the main canopy of the plant. Sometimes the seed pods are singular and other times you&8217;ll find them in clusters, depending on how much you&8217;ve pruned your plants over the season.

Harvest the pods and place them in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days. The pods will dry out, exposing the seeds. The reason I suggest placing them in a paper bag is to protect you from flying seeds.

As the pod dries, it will expel the seeds and could send them flying across the room. I discovered this phenomenon the interesting way. I harvested seed pods, placed them on my desk to later place in a bag and forgot they were there. The seeds started flying all over my office and one actually hit me in the face before I could figure out what was going on.

The seeds are about 3/16&8221; long, black and football shaped with a slick coating. The slick coating is what makes them projectile like as the pods shrink and open.

After the pods open, place your seeds in an airtight plastic bag, in the refrigerator for about six months. In mid spring plant them in a good potting medium about 11 inches deep and keep watered but not soaking wet.

It takes anywhere from three months to a year for them to germinate.

Just be patient and watch.