It’s Pittosporum time in the prop shed at work and we are busy heeling away at semi-ripe material. I enjoy heels because they are quick and easy to plant. You don’t have to fuss too much. Make sure you have a growing medium with plenty of grit 50:50 compost to grit or sand. I have never needed rooting hormone but I do use some bottom heat and place them in a rooting chamber. If you don’t have one of those a domestic propagator will do. They take better in 70% plus humidity so mist regularly or make sure they are kept moist but not too wet. To prepare them just cut a branch off your favorite one. I like Pittosporum tenufolium ‘Irene Patterson’. I then rip off gently each auxiliary bud which need to be at least 2cm long with leaves. I trim each heal and then plant. I use module trays so that I don’t have any problems with spacing but I would have thought you could put two or three in a small 9cm pot. The temperature of a propagator should be enough. Although at work I do set my at 18 degrees. No life from the peaonies yet.
Today a lovely lady entered my shed just as I was finishing off potting up some Thuja plicata cuttings from last year. In her hand was an envelope containing Paeonia rockii seeds. She also showed me some photographs of the plants they came from in her garden. Amazed by the incredible blooms these tree peonies had to offer, I took up her offer and decided to have a go at getting them to germinate.
I thought they would be easy as I have managed to get many of their Japanese cousins to grow. However, through my research I noted Mr Bricknell’s warning that they are difficult to propagate. On further reading I began to realise that it wasn’t just a simple case of shoving some seeds in a seed tray and covering them with grit and hoping the forces of nature will work their magic in a cold frame. Oh! No! these were going require patience and a bit of care and attention.
After scouring many sites I decided to take Derry Watkins advice and soak the seed in water overnight. She then suggested mixing with damp vermiculite and placing in a plastic bag and storing at room temperature until they root. This can take up to three months. Then I have to put them in the fridge until the shoots appear which can take another three months. To top it all I will probably need to wait another five years before I see the first bloom! Are they worth the wait? Definitely! Or I could just take a short cut and buy a specimen but where’s the fun in that? Also the fact that paeonia do not seed true makes it more exciting as I may end up with a better specimen than its parent.
So I have started this process and soaked my seeds and stored them in vermiculite and I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Now I’m going to issue my warnings, first of all I will need to check propagation rights if I want to sell them and secondly I always obtain seeds from known sources and never from abroad. I don’t want to be the source of the next pest and disease outbreak!