Something special fills the heart when you see little green wisps sprout up where you planted native seeds, or when you see roots growing out from the bottom of a slender branch you’ve stuck in water or potting soil. That’s new plant life, new native plant life, that you helped create. Your efforts are working!
Whether you want to try propagating wildflowers by tossing out seeds or grow new herbaceous species from cuttings, knowing what has worked for others will help you succeed. We’ve gathered together resources on many different aspects of propagation, from how to collect and clean seed, to how to keep all your materials clean in order to avoid spreading plant diseases.
You can download and print these Redbud resources; they are in PDF form.
Propagation Techniques for Native Plants
Propagation Techniques for Native Plants
Whether you want to try propagating wildflowers by tossing out seeds, or you want to grow new herbaceous species from cuttings, knowing what has worked for others will help you succeed. We’ve gathered together resources on many different aspects of propagation, from how to collect and clean seed, to how to keep all your materials clean in order to avoid spreading plant diseases.
Seed Saving. Though the examples in this Master Gardener presentation are vegetable plants, its introduction mentions the value of saving seeds of locally native plants, and the techniques described for how to harvest and save seed apply equally well to native plants.
Seed Cleaning Techniques. Redbud video in which Shane Hanofee shows how to clean a variety of native-plant seeds.
Seed Treatments and Planting. Redbud video in which Shane demonstrates and explains common seed treatments, such as hot-water treatment and cold stratification, as well as less common ones, such as scarification (roughing up the seed coat). He also shares how to do direct seeding.
Processing Seeds of California Native Plants for Conservation, Storage, and Restoration. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (now California Botanic Garden).
Seed Propagation of California Native Plants. Dara Emery. Free downloadable version of the material in Dara Emery’s classic short useful book (currently out of print), provided by CNPS (Calscape).
Online Resources For Propagating Native Plants. A list of practical information sources about propagating natives, including sources of protocols for specific species.
Wild Things: Propagating Lesser-Known California Natives. Download an article by Nevin Smith (who founded Suncrest Nursery) that covers some increasingly popular Calif0rnia native plants: Artemesia (sagebrushes), Carpenteria californica (California bush anemone), Cercis occidentalis (Western redbud), Chrysothamnus nauseosus subsp. albicaulis (rabbitbrush), Dedromecon rigida and D. harfordii, Eriogonum (buckwheat)s, Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon), Lupinus (lupines), Malacothamnes (bush mallows), Ribes (flower currantsa nd gooseberries), Salvia (sages), Styrax officinalis var. redivivus (CA. snowdrop), Trichostema lanatum (wooly blue curls).
Native Pollinator Plants for Southern Oregon. This free downloadable book focuses on the plants of the Siskiyou range. The Siskiyou mountains share many, many plants with the Sierra Nevada; some consider them an extension of the Sierra. This company, Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds, is also a good source of seeds.
Propagation Class: Seeds, Cuttings and Divisions. YouTube video by C alifornia Botanic Garden, with Steven Valdez, their Lead Nursery Technician. Detailed coverage of types of propagation and their characteristics, propagation materials, seed propagation, propagation by cutting, by division (corms), and by layering (appropriate only for propagation for private use, not for Redbud sale).
Seed Propagation. Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds provides detailed resources on everything from selecting containers for seeding to site preparation for seeding, including a chart on recommended seed preparation for many of our local species.
Establishing Pollinator Meadows From Seed. Xerces Society’s guidance on site selection and preparation for pollinator meadows, plant selection, planting techniques, and ongoing maintenance.
A helpful guide to propagation techniques for native plants, from CNPS.
A propagation handbook developed and hosted by the Santa Cruz Chapter of CNPS.
Why Propagation Cleanliness Matters
When growing native plants, maintaining certain “best practices” to keep any soil from contacting the plants or the medium in which they are growing is critically important. The microscopic organism, called Phytophthora, once inadvertently spread from native-plant nurseries to wildlands via restoration projects, can lead to death of numerous species of natives. Phytophthora is invisible to the eye, and its damage is not visible until too late. So native-plant nurseries take special steps to make sure they do not spread it. All propagators who grow for our Redbud native plant sales take these steps, and we recommend that you do, too.
Best Practices and How to Achieve Them
Native plant nurseries and CNPS have developed a set of “Best Management Practices” (BMP) which, when followed, will keep phytophera from spreading to new plants. Good places to start are:
- “Controlling the Spread of Phytophthora Species in Native Plant Nursery Stock,” a set of FAQs from CNPS
- CNPS Phytophthora Resources
Keep Records of Propagation Activities
Keep Records of Your Propagation Activities
The best way to improve your success in propagation is to keep records of what you do. To make this easy, Redbud offers these record sheets: