Sunday, October 4, 2009

Propagating Beautyberry Through Cuttings

If you're looking for a plant that provides fall color in the form of berries as well as late season nourishment for the birds than look no further than the beautyberry (Callicarpa). Our beautyberry that we purchased in the spring is turning a deep purple that will last into the winter. While it may never be listed as the birds favorite berry, beautyberries hang around long enough to be a great option for them when there is little else to eat.

There are two easy ways to propagate beautyberries. One way is through the berries themselves. Sow them fresh in the fall and winter once they turn purple with just a little bit of potting mixture or soil covering them. I haven't tried them from seed yet but it works according to Clemson's Horticulture Department.

plant propagation, beautyberryThe other method which I have tried and have successfully made four rooted beautyberries is through cuttings. Beautyberry roots very easily from softwood cuttings taken from spring through summer.
plant propagation, beautyberryTo propagate my beautyberry I took 5-6 inch cuttings from a couple branches. I left two leaves at the top of each cutting and removed all the others. Then I placed them in sand in a pot and kept them moist for about 6 weeks. Rooting hormone isn't necessary but may speed up the rooting time and reliability.  Rooting times vary greatly as the two from my last batch just have small tiny roots forming while the other four from the same pot haven't developed any roots yet.   I'm giving them some more time to develop.

plant propagation, beautyberryBoth of the beautyberry cuttings that rooted formed new leaves which provided me a clue that they had roots. It's not always the case but often when new growth appears on a cutting roots are also present.
I potted up these newly propagated beautyberries and put them next to the other two I potted a few weeks ago on our front porch. Hopefully they will have enough time to develop a good root system before the temperatures get too cold. I either need to plant them in the ground, build a cold-frame, put them in the garage greenhouse, or put the new beautyberries (pot and all) into the ground. Air temperatures can be quite a bit colder than the soil temperature during the winter.

plant propagation, beautyberry

I'm tempted to start some hardwood cuttings this winter after the berries are gone to see how they do. Soon I'll gather some berries and sow in pots outdoors to test the berry planting method. I would love to have dozens of these plants scattered throughout our gardens, wouldn't you?



15 comments :

  1. Always room for another cutting. Sure is nice to be able to have more plants without buying them.

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  2. I have Beautyberries coming up all over the place--both the americana and the japonica seeds germinate pretty well.
    Have you ever grown canna from seed? I was able to harvest some seeds, so now I am wondering if it is easy enough to get one to grow to a mature size.

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  3. Dear Dave (my Dave the gnome says hello by the way : )
    I have Dream Catcher and I would like to propagate it for some to plant in the front garden .. I think cuttings might be my best bet and I'm wondering should I wait till next Spring with that or try a few now (but then they would be in the house all winter .. maybe not the right thing to do ?) .. I'm new to doing this sort of thing .. advice would be great , thanks !
    Joy : )
    My beauty bush has no berries yet .. maybe too young .. 2 years old.
    Moved twice .. might not have liked THAT ?

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  4. It does work thru seeds for sure. A friend gave me one she started this way and it grew like crazy. I wound up with two and just gave one away because I've run out of room:(

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  5. Lola,

    Definitely!

    Janet,

    I've not tried cannas from seed. The only one I had actually passed away last year. I just haven't gotten around to finding another one yet. From what I've read they are easy to grow from seed as long as you nick their coat and let the soak for 24-48 hours in warm water. They can flower in the first year, which is very cool.

    Joy,

    I would go ahead and try it not, it really can't hurt. If the cuttings don't work out you can try again in the spring. I took cuttings of a butterfly bush once and kept the rooted ones in the house until I could safely plant them outdoors. They did fine. Your 'Dream catcher' probably didn't want to be moved so much but then it could be a sun-shade thing. They like the full sun and produce better with the sunlight. Then again you might have it in the perfect location and it just may not have been mature enough.

    Tina,

    That's good to hear! I can't wait to try the seed method. You know what it means when a gardener runs out of room? Time to get more land!

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  6. Seed planting must work. My second native beautyberry I lifted from its first spot in the garden. I moved it to a more suitable place. I figure a mockingbird planted it for me from a favorite plant stake perch.

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  7. I have two beautyberries and just love them. Oddly, the birds have STRIPPED one and not touched the other!

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  8. They do seed all over, here. They are also not particular about sun or shade, but seem to thrive better with a little shade. Oh, everything thrives with a little shade in this hot, bright climate.

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  9. Lawremc,

    Those mockingbirds are very good at planting things. Unfortunately they seem to enjoy the pokeweed berries the most. So far they haven't touched our beautyberry but they completely stripped a viburnum within days of ripening.

    Ginger,

    Maybe they are saving them for later. Are they different varieties?

    Nell Jean,

    Ours is in full sun but we tend to be a little cooler than Georgia, not much though. The rain has definitely been a boon this year in the garden!

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  10. I believe you my dear Dave can root anything!!

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  11. Darla,

    I wish that were true! I still haven't gotten boxwoods to root successfully. Although I'm hopeful that my next batch will work!

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  12. I was already with a witty comment when I read about your lack of boxwood success, the ONLY thing I have been able to grow from cuttings. I have had them root from clippings left laying on the ground. You may be keeping them too wet, would be my guess. Sorry you didn't get the swingset started, but it did sound like everyone had fun at the Saturday shindig. I love the irish dancing too. Sounds like seed grown beautyberries, coming right up. And slow and steady sure wins the garden chores race! :-)
    Frances

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  13. I have a backyard nursery and have propagated plants for years. I found using a Mistamatic mister really made it simple to do. It uses a balance arm that pivots down when wet (from the mist) and pivots up when the water evaporates. It basically is a switch for an electric valve that keeps my cuttings moist. I have no commercial interest is this device but suggest it because it is simple , inexpensive and works. I found the supplier using Google. There is something magical about growing plants. I never get over the wonder of it.

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  14. Dave, I am late coming to this conversation...I picked a couple of (okay couple dozen) beauty berries last night at a garden I visit and want to start them. How did yours make out? It's October now, if I wait til spring, should I stratify them or just keep them in house?
    Hope your still reading this :)

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    Replies
    1. I've managed a few beautyberries just from the seed. I would go ahead and plant them outdoors this time of year and let nature take its course. I've also had the birds simply plant them for me which was pretty neat to find baby beautyberry bushes! Just make sure you mark where you plant them or put them in a pot and keep it outdoors. You could try planting half of them then keep the other half in a refrigerator to stratify them. I think they will do fine though if you just plant the seeds outdoors. Hopefully by late spring you'll see a new shrub ready to go!

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