Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Wednesday - October 08, 2008

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagation of Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have seeds from a madrone tree and would like to know if you have had success propagating a madrone and if so, could you give me some tips, because I hear it can be tricky.

ANSWER:

You are right that propagating Arbutus xalapensis (Texas madrone) is a tricky business—not wishing to sound discouraging, but the US Forest Service says:

"Plants can also be grown from seed, although light and soil moisture requirements are exacting....After more than 10 years of experimentation, only 2 of 10,000 seeds planted in carefully controlled greenhouse conditions actually germinated and became established."

The references for their statements, however, are more than 30 years old and Jill Nokes in "How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest" is much more encouraging if your seeds have recently been collected.  She says that seeds lose their ability to germinate from about 80% just after collection to only 40% after six months of dry cold storage and down to only 4% after 30 months.  She recommends 30 days of cold stratification prior to sowing the seeds.  Here is a quote from her book:

"Plant Madrone seedlings no deeper than 1/4 inch in well-drained media such as perlite or vermiculite.  Germination is usually complete within 4 weeks.   Seedlings are extremely sensitive to water stress levels and also damping-off fungus.  They must be kept very damp at the initial establishment and early growth stages.  As the seedling grows, gradually lessen the watering to prevent damping off.  Avoid overhead watering of young seedlings.  In one report, seedlings survived best when a half-strength solution of a fungicide was applied with every watering until the seedling had three or four true leaves.  In addition to the fungicide, the seedlings were fertilized at every watering with a 15-16-17 soluble fertilizer (220 ppm nitrogen) until they were planted in the landscape...To minimize transplant shock, many growers plant seed directly into "Jiffy" pots. black polybags, peat pots, milk containers, or other biodegradable containers that provide good drainage...Once planted in the landscape, Madrones grow best in well-drained soil and under drip irrigation.  Young seedlings benefit from partial shade the first growing season."

If you would like to read more from Jill Nokes about propagating the Texas Madrone, your local library may have a copy of her book or you can purchase it online from our Wildflower Center Store.

You might also like to know that David Winningham at Natives of Texas Nursery in Kerrville, who specializes in madrones, has been very successful in propagating them.

The Texas Madrone is a beautiful tree and Mr. Smarty Plants wishes you great success in propagating it.


Arbutus xalapensis

Arbutus xalapensis

Arbutus xalapensis

Arbutus xalapensis

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Why is my yaupon tree not producing berries in Metairie La?
November 04, 2009 - What is the lifespan of a Yaupon Tree? We live in Louisiana, and our Yaupon would always get the white flowers in the Spring but never the red berries. Why is that?
view the full question and answer

Final size of a Texas mountain laurel
August 11, 2014 - I have purchased a Texas Mountain Laurel. The plant tag says it will grow 25 to 35 feet. LBWF plant data base says 10 to 15 feet. Which data should I go with? It's either plant close but not close to...
view the full question and answer

Rooting hybrid Savannah Holly from cuttings from Gainesville FL
March 04, 2011 - I need instructions on rooting the Savannah Holly from cuttings. I understand that seedlings will not be true to the parent..is this true? Please help. What type of soil mix should I use?
view the full question and answer

Sunlight needs for native wildflower seedlings from Double Oaks TX
January 27, 2014 - Last December I created a flower bed for my parents' backyard and sowed native wildflower seeds (obtained from Native American Seed). The bed is in full sun most of the day, and the seeds are alread...
view the full question and answer

Are there production timing guides for native plant production?
October 27, 2009 - We need growers timetable guide for native plants from seed to salable size. Any already published guides out there?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.