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Mr. Smarty Plants - Propagation of Mountain Laurel by seed

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Wednesday - March 28, 2007

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagation of Mountain Laurel by seed
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I harvested the seed or nut from our Mountain Laurel this spring and I would like to propagate them in containers for at least a year and then transfer them to the ground. I live in Hays County, TX in rocky "Hill Country" terrain. Do I remove the hull (some of them came out spontaneously) or plant them in the shell? Is there a pre-planting treatment? How deep should I set them? Is there a particular orientation? Should I use the local soil? Should they get started in shade/partial shade/sun? How much watering?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has some personal experience starting Sophora secundiflora (mountain laurel) and has these recommendations:

1. Yes, remove the shell.

2. Jill Nokes in How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest says: "Germination ... is delayed by a hard seed coat. Seeds may be filed or mechanically scarified with a knife." Another way to scarify the seeds is to rub them with coarse sandpaper. The idea is to penetrate the seed cover enough to allow the seed to imbibe water. Another method that gives almost 100% germination is to soak the seeds in water for 2-4 weeks before planting. Since the seeds are poisonous, you should soak the seeds in a container that you can throw away, such as a used plastic bottle. Mr. Smarty Plants had about 50% yield on untreated seeds just planted in potting soil in a flower pot.

3. About 2-3 times the width of the seed should be a good depth for planting. Jill Nokes also advises planting in a pot that is tall enough for the little laurel to be able to develop a good long root system in the pot that will support it when it is transplanted to outdoors.

4. There is no particular orientation to plant the seed.

5. You can use potting soil or local soil with potting soil added if your local soil is very clayey.

6. They should be grown in partial shade. Jill Nokes recommends 30% shade in the first year.

7. Water often enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. Be sure that the pot allows good drainage.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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