One Tough Berry

We had a killing frost about a week ago and every night since then has been below zero.  So why is this haskap in flower?????? I don’t know.

Haskap in flower October 30, 2011

Since we first planted haskap and honeyberry in 2008, I’ve been trying to propagate them from stem cuttings, in part, to get free plants but more importantly to learn propagation techniques.  My first attempt at softstem cuttings in 2009 was deceivingly successful.  I got 6 of 8 cuttings to take.  Three of the cuttings are still in the garden and bore fruit this year while two have been given away and one later died.  My attempts last year were a complete failure.  I didn’t give up on softstem cuttings but I decided to try layering this year since honeysuckle in general is supposed to layer well.   So, in the spring, while branches were still green and pliable I buried a number underground while leaving the branch tip above ground and held them down with rocks.  Where the branch was underground, I nicked the underside of the branch with a knife to encourage roots. Over the summer, the bushes leafed out and grew and I didn’t pay much attention to the layered branches except during the rainless weeks of July.  I checked a number of the visible branches and found that they had died.  And then I forgot about them until yesterday when we were preparing to over-winter plants by sinking them into the ground in the haskap beds.  To prepare the beds, a general clean and weeding are done.  When I went to remove the rocks, I tugged gently at the branches and found resistance which means that there were roots.  Cutting the branch and gently digging up the cutting, I found well developed root systems.

A well developed root system

A couple had such substantial root systems that they could be subdivided before potting up.

A layered branch which can be cut into two plants

By the time that I was finished, I had eight plants potted up: four 9-92 or Indigo Yum as they have been renamed (the first 4 plants on the left), 2 Borealis (the next two plants), 1 Berry Smart (top right), and 1 Polar Jewel (just below Berry Smart)

Eight new plants from layering

Needless to say,  I’m very pleased.  This is a very easy propagation technique.  You don’t need anything more than a rock and you don’t have to monitor results as you go along.  I’m doubly pleased because I can provide pollinators – the Berry Smart and the Polar Jewel – to people to whom I gave rooted Borealis cuttings. I didn’t have pollinators to give at the time and had hoped that last year was going to be a successful year with cuttings.  Now they will be able to get fruit and know how to multiply their plants if they choose to.

More pictures here and here.

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3 Responses to One Tough Berry

  1. chris says:

    Thanks for the blog. We are in ontario and this plant is fairly new here. I was thinking that these plants could be layered, but it seems that your website was the first to suggest it. Layering is sooo simple to do. Thanks for verifying my ponderings!!!

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Chris,

      At first I was taking cuttings. I had some success but it was basically hit or miss. Then I remembered that climbing honeysuckle could be propagated by layering. Since they were the same family, I decided to give it a try. It’s much easier to layer than it is to take cuttings. You don’t have to worry about too much or too little water. You don’t have to worry about mildew or rotting. And I think that wounding the stem by twisting it is far less stressful than severing a cutting.

      Regards,
      Mike

  2. Birdman says:

    Great article. I have just pruned the bush at work, and was going to throw the cuttings in the heap, but thought I would look into rooting them.

    The bush is a combo, so it will pollenate, and I got a bunch from both sides, but I don’t know what varieties they are though. I also have an Indigo Gem that I bought the other day on sale, so hopefully I get at least a few that will pollenate each other.

    Thanks for the info.

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