Monday, October 1, 2018

The Three Princes of Serendip

An apple tree in its third "leaf". Not a bad looking tree.

The bottom had been wrapped with newspaper to thwart bunnies and other pests.

Unfortunately, the bark on the main stem thought it was underground and tried to strike roots.
The curious thing is that the main stem is not a "rootstock" variety but a disease resistant apple called Liberty that is not known for throwing roots.

I was kicking myself. It seems likely that the knobby stem will be far more vulnerable to winter damage than a smooth barked stem.

And then it occurred to me, I can use newspaper to air-layer species like filberts and quince. This apple tree just told me that four layers of newsprint create sufficient darkness and held sufficient moisture to convince a difficult-to-root variety to strike roots.

One of the interesting things about layering is that that plant stems continuously initiates cells that can become roots but sunlight destroys the chemicals that triggers them. That is part of the mechanism that causes plant stems to bend toward light. The portions of the stem in the shade bulk-up faster than the parts in the sun and bend the stem.

Eliminate sunlight, or at least the blue-green end of the spectrum, and many species will start throwing roots.

It should not be any big trick to cut 6" wide strips of newsprint and soak them in water to make them flexible and then to wrap them around whippy branches I want to propagate.  Then, after the mass of soggy newsprint dries I can throw some wraps of masking tape around it to keep it in place. I might be able to get three or four plants from each four foot length of limb!

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