There are three different ways that ornamental conifers are produced. One would be from seed, utilized if you're looking to produce a straight species. The second would be from a vegetative cutting, this one is essentially taking a clipping, dipping it in a rooting hormone, then allowing that clipping to develop roots. But the most popular method for preserving exact genetic copies would be grafting plant material. The reason we graft is that, it's a genetic duplication of the parent plant. If we look at ornamental conifers, stuff that you would want to plant in your garden or in your landscape, odds are the ornamental conifer has been produced using a grafting method. They're standing in front of a fir that happens to thrive throughout the east coast, even in the south east. This is Abies firma which happens to be a momi fir, a Japanese fir. It's quite a large specimen thriving here in Georgia. Here one can see the parent plant and below in a small pot they've essentially grown these seedlings. It doesn't look like much, but it doesn't have to. We're really just using this plant for what's below ground, for it's root stock. We're actually going to use this to graft and produce unusual, beautiful fir varieties for landscapes. Eric asks Brent for those of us that are not familiar with how the grafting process works and what it looks like, walk us through that whole process. One starts with an incredibly healthy seedling. The roots are simply thriving in the pot. One can see it has beautiful white root development, a nice fibrous root system. Then essentially we're taking a cutting from a variety, this happens to be a Golden Spanish Fir, Abies pinsapo Aurea, and we're mating it based on the correct size of the cutting and the diameter of the root stock. We then bond them together. Over the course of a couple of months, the cambium, the living, growing tissue will join the root stock to the cutting and the new plant will eventually take over. What happens, fast forward a year, all of the foliage from the root stock is removed and the new plant will be thriving.
By Tim Wood, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs
People are becoming more aware of the threat of invasive species that can alter our native ecosystems. Because of that scientists, horticulturists, farmers and gardeners are working to produce well-behaved, environmentally friendly plants that are not invasive threats like their parents. For an interesting article by Tim Wood.
Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!