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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - February 11, 2011

From: Rochester, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Propagation of Aesculus parvifolia from Rochester MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Aesculus parvifolia. I purchased one plant in spring 2010---it's about 3 ft tall. How might I propagate from this one plant, or should I buy another?

ANSWER:

 As you can see from this USDA Plant Profiles map, Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye) doesn't grow natively in Michigan at all, but rather in 3 southeastern states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington DC. You say you purchased this plant, did you purchase it locally? We realize that many people assume that if a plant is purchased locally it will grow locally, but this is not always the case. From this article from Floridata, you can get more information, including the fact that it is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8. Since Oakland County appears to be Zone 5b, it could certainly survive there. However, from this University of Connecticut page on the Bottlebrush buckeye, note this comment: "in the northeastern United States, fruit set is rare due to an insufficiently long growing season."

Warning: Seeds and foliage of Aesculus species are poisonous to humans if eaten.

If you follow the plant link above, you can read our webpage on this plant. From the section on Distribution on that page:

"Native Distribution: C. GA to AL & SC
Native Habitat: Rich, mesic woods; moist ravines"

We learned from this webpage that propagation of this plant is not easy under the best circumstances:

"Description: Seeds should be planted as soon as possible after they are collected and never allowed to dry out. Softwood cuttings under mist root in fair percentages. The commercial method of propagating bottlebrush buckeye is root cuttings.
Seed Collection: Seeds dry and shrivel quickly.
Seed Treatment: Minimal cool stratification (30 days) seems beneficial."

Your original question was whether to propagate this plant or buy another. As it appears that propagation could be difficult for you, and you feel that the plant will do well in your garden, purchasing another might be a better choice.

The first three pictures below were taken in Durham NC and Philadelphia PA. The last one was taken in Cass County, TX, which is in northeast Texas and is a wooded area with acidic soil.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Aesculus parviflora


Aesculus parviflora


Aesculus parviflora


Aesculus parviflora

 

 

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