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Many gardeners call the reproduction of conifers their hobby, which they do not for profit, but for their own pleasure. And it is not surprising, because this process, although it requires full dedication, in itself is very exciting and interesting. Evergreen trees and shrubs serve as a decorative decoration for any garden plot. In addition, they bring undoubted benefits due to the ability to purify the air, therefore they are always very popular. The propagation of conifers is possible by several methods, which are discussed in detail in the article.
Features of the reproduction of conifers
In their natural environment, coniferous plants are characterized by seed reproduction. Conifers do not have flowers or inflorescences in the conventional sense of the term. However, they do have male and female genital organs called strobilae. Male - microstrobil - are shoots carrying pollen, which pollinates female organs - megastrobil, after which fruits (cones or berries) are formed. The seeds ripen in the fruits, with the help of which conifers multiply.
However, not all conifers have strobili, and this breeding method is not available for everyone. In addition, planting conifers with seeds will give the expected result (that is, the grown plant will be identical to the parent plant), only if the seed is collected in the wild. Varietal, decorative conifers with this propagation method often give deviations, that is, the purity of the variety is not preserved. Therefore, at home, the propagation of conifers is usually carried out by a vegetative method using cuttings, layering or grafting.
How to propagate conifers at home with seeds
Growing conifers from seeds collected in the forest will most likely produce a plant with the characteristic features of the variety. In addition, some conifers can only be propagated by seed (for example, larch, fir, pine, spruce).
Due to the large amount of oils, seeds lose their germination if stored improperly. How to choose seeds for planting:
- the seed must be freshly harvested or not more than 2 years old;
- cones are taken only when fully ripe;
- the outer cover of the seeds should not have any signs of damage;
- seeds with a broken or not fully formed shell should be sown immediately, as they very quickly lose their germination.
After the seed has been harvested, the buds need to be given time to open. To speed up this process, they are placed in a paper bag and shaken periodically, left in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place. It is important to adhere to the optimal temperature regime: if the drying is too intensive, the germination rates of the seeds deteriorate.
Growing conifers from seeds at home has its own rules, so it is important to follow agricultural techniques. Seeds should be specially prepared before planting, that is, the integrity of the outer shell should be violated. For this purpose, they are subjected to stratification, namely, they are placed in the cold for 1 - 3 months (at a temperature of 1 - 5˚C). Immediately before sowing, the seeds of conifers are mixed and rubbed with coarse sand. All this is done in order to help the embryo overcome the hard shell and increase the friendly germination of seeds. Under natural conditions, this process is provided by microorganisms that live in the soil, as well as enzymes in the stomachs of birds and animals.
For sowing seeds, boxes with a special substrate are prepared in advance, consisting of one third of the compost, one part of peat and one part of sand. Sowing seeds of conifers should be in December. Immediately after sowing, the containers are removed to a dark place, with a temperature of no more than 5 - 7 ˚C for 2 - 3 months: this can be a basement or a cellar.
Important! It is imperative to monitor the humidity in the room and prevent the soil in the planting boxes from drying out.
After three months, the landing containers are moved to a lighted place with a temperature of 18 - 22 ˚С. It is necessary to ensure that the sprouts that appear are not exposed to direct rays of the sun: they can cause burns. After the seedlings get stronger, a pick is carried out into separate pots or the seedlings are planted in open ground. This should be done in the summer, when conifers have a slow growth period, in cloudy weather or in the evening.
Some species of conifers (pine, spruce, larch) germinate well under a layer of snow. To do this, boxes with seeds are taken out into the street and covered with snow. When it gets warmer, the boxes are dug into the ground and left.
Seedlings of coniferous trees do not require special care. The soil should be well-drained, loose, loamy, and watering should be moderate, since the seedlings do not need feeding. If the seeds were sown in a properly prepared substrate, the seedlings will have enough nutrients. If necessary, you can fertilize with a diluted infusion of manure or a very low concentration of mineral fertilizing.
Reproduction of wild conifers is possible only by sowing seeds. For decorative conifers, this method is also widely used.
Propagation of conifers by cuttings
Seed propagation of conifers is one of the most common methods. However, in some cases, cuttings are used.
Cuttings are cut from last year's growth, in the morning. It is important to try to cut the shoot with a small part of the mother material - the "heel". The length of the cutting should be 8 - 12 cm; for decorative conifers, 5 - 7 cm will be enough.
Before planting, the cuttings are treated with a root-forming solution and planted in separate pots with a diameter of 15 cm, to a depth of 3 cm. If the cuttings of conifers for reproduction are small, it is permissible to plant 2 - 3 pieces in one pot. Then a plastic bag is put on the pots and placed in a well-lit place, for example, on a windowsill. After about 35 - 45 days, the shoots will take root.
Cuttings for the propagation of conifers in winter are perfect. Feeling the approach of warmth, closer to February, plants begin to revive, and this period is the most suitable for collecting material. Cuttings cut in February root better than spring cuttings: the percentage of their survival rate is up to 90%.
Transplanting rooted cuttings into open ground is carried out in early or mid-May. This procedure should be carried out very carefully, with a lump of soil, so as not to damage the delicate roots. At this age, conifers survive the transplant well, the only rule is that plants should be planted in partial shade.
This method is used to propagate blue spruce, thuja, junipers. Pine and common spruce propagate by cuttings reluctantly, so there is a high probability of the death of most of the shoots.
Propagation of conifers by layering
Reproduction of conifers by layering, or, as this method is also called, dividing the bush, is used quite rarely. The method is not suitable for all conifers, but only for young, multi-stemmed, bushy plants.
Horizontal layers in the spring are bent to the ground and buried in the soil. In order for the branches to take root faster, a shallow incision is made on the shoot under the bud, all small branches are removed. To prevent the branch from straightening, it must be fixed with a stone or wire.
In addition, you should monitor the moisture in the place where the shoots come into contact with the soil. After about a year, when the roots are already sufficiently developed, the branches are separated from the mother bush and transplanted. Sometimes it may take longer to form an independent root system. The first winter after the withdrawal, the young coniferous plant should overwinter together with the mother bush.
This method of reproduction is absolutely harmless to the mother plant, but it is considered the least productive. In addition, it is only suitable for coniferous bushes with flexible branches, indefinite or horizontally spreading crown shape (cypress, yew).
On an industrial scale, coniferous shrubs do not propagate this way, since in most cases you will get a lopsided plant with an irregular crown shape.
Propagation of conifers by grafting
Reproduction of conifers at home is also carried out by grafting. This method is used for those breeds that are reluctant to propagate by cuttings or using seeds. This method of propagation of conifers is widely used when it is necessary to obtain a special shape of the crown of the plant.
Three-, four- or five-year-old healthy seedlings act as a stock for the propagation of conifers. Cuttings for scion are taken from the top of the crown. Cuttings are harvested in the first month of spring and are stored in the cellar until the grafting procedure. The vaccination itself is carried out in the second half of the summer, when the weather is dry. How to correctly carry out the procedure of inoculation in the lateral cleft:
- cut cuttings 10 cm long from the top of the shoot;
- both ends of the cutting are cut with a wedge and cleaned of needles;
- the upper part of the shoot is split to a depth of 1.5 cm, then the prepared cutting is inserted there (in this case, it is important to ensure that the cambium layer coincides with the scion at the rootstock branch);
- then the vaccination site is tied with a thick woolen thread and, in hot weather, protected from the sun's rays with a paper cap.
In order for the procedure to give one hundred percent result, the scion cambium layer is carefully applied to the rootstock cambium layer, while cutting off 4 - 6 cm of the bark, after which they are tightly bandaged. This method of grafting is called "bark".
If everything is done correctly, after a month the stalk takes root, and the bandage can be removed. In order for the scion to actively grow, the top of the stock is cut off.
This method of breeding conifers is quite complex and requires certain skills and professionalism from the gardener.
Reproduction of conifers using any of the above methods is a painstaking occupation that requires certain knowledge and skills. However, if you wish, it will not be difficult to figure it out even for a novice gardener. The breeding method largely depends on the ephedra breed, as well as on the expected result. Seed sowing and cuttings are widely used on an industrial scale. At home, for the purpose of breeding conifers and shrubs, you can use the method of dividing the bush (diversion) or grafting.