Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Mommies and Babies
Plant Biology class (or a middle school science teacher) likely introduced us to the concept of sexual reproduction between plants. I know it’s difficult to believe that in middle school we are exposed to what some might consider “plant pornography,” but our scientific community understands there are males and females within plant species. Often fruit trees require a male cultivar and separate female cultivar to encourage fertilization, enabling development of fertilized blossoms into fruits. (i.e., Apricot ‘Sungold’ requires Apricot ‘Moongold’ as its mating pair, resulting in an abundant crop of lovely, delicious stone fruits.)
The mommies and babies for today’s blog post are not actually fruits, but are more like clones of the mother plant. Some plants, like German Ivy shown here, are prolific at generating new leaves. Taking cuttings from the parent plant and rooting those cuttings in water for a few weeks will produce a new baby plant—a smaller version of its mother. (The mother plant shown here was initially the same size as the small plant shown on my photo; the mother plant is a few years old, and I’ve done numerous cuttings, creating several new baby plants.)
Another mommy and baby are shown here… my “mother” Amaryllis bulb over the past few years has provided a few baby bulbs, which develop near the base of the mother bulb. When the juvenile bulb has fully developed and separates from the primary bulb, it can be carefully severed and planted in its own pot. (NOTE: in its first year, abundant foliage should emerge from bulb— but no blossoms—it is still in its juvenile phase. The foliage creates sugars, which feed and nurture the baby bulb. By the second year, it should be capable of producing its first bloom.)
Learning about the reproductive capabilities of various plant species provides us with a deeper understanding of our plant world… since gardeners and horticulturists are caregivers for much of our plant world, it becomes critical to gain knowledge and respect for our wondrous variety of plants.
M. Lynn Schmid, Certified Master Gardener