Let it Grow: Layering good way to bring in new plants

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let&8217;s talk about making more camellias! First we&8217;ll start with &8220;non-patented&8221; varieties.

If you attempt to propagate a patented variety asexually, you may get a visit from the &8220;plant police.&8221;

One of my favorite ways to propagate camellias is by &8220;layering.&8221; To layer, you select semi-hardwood branches still attached to the plant. On the branch, make a small 1 inch

injury to the bark, near a leaf node, with a knife or your thumbnail. Be sure to only remove a small section of bark and do not completely girdle the branch. Apply a small amount of rooting hormone to the injured area and then bury that section. To insure the branch stays undisturbed in the soil, place a weight on the propagation area. Leave the branch alone from now until the end of August. When you uncover the branches you should have roots attached. Cut the rooted branch on the basal end and plant the new camellia in a quality potting medium, inside a gallon nursery pot. Within a year, the plant should be completely rooted in and can be potted into the ground.

Another type of propagation is called &8220;air-layering.&8221; Use the same methods as above, only make the injury 2 inches long and surround half the stem. Place moist, un-milled sphagnum moss in a large ovate ball around the injured area. Cover the sphagnum with two layers of cling film and secure with twist ties at each end. In about six months, you should see rootlets appearing.

Dr. M. Dirr of University

of Georgia recommends June as the optimal time to propogate by cuttings. Semi-hardwood cuttings 3 to 5 inches long should be sufficient as long as you have at least two leaf nodes on the basal end and at least two healthy leaves on the blossom end. On the Camellia japonica the leaves are sometimes fairly large; therefore make sure no more than three leaves are on the cuttings.

Dip the basal end into a rooting hormone such as Rootone or Hormodin 1. Stick cuttings clean into a medium of 1 to 1 sand to coarse perlite and keep moist but not wet. Your cuttings should be well rooted within three months.

For more gardening tips log on to Home Grown Tomatoes at mailto:kennalan@hgtradio.ne