Robert E. McNiel & Steve Elkins
Department of Horticulture
Introduction: Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye) has made many recommended plant lists during recent times. However, few plants are available on a regular basis in the nursery trade. Seed was the main method of propagation until the 1990s when Bir & Barnes(1994) established a protocol for cutting propagation. Fordham (1987), in his discussion of propagation of bottlebrush buckeye, devoted his explanation to seed, except for a final comment that root cuttings and root suckers can be a source. Seed availability, timing or facilities may still limit this plant from being propagated in significant numbers by either seed or cuttings.
Layering has been recommended as a form of propagation for plants forming suckers by several authors during the 1900s (Bailey, 1920; Wells, 1985). While addressing layering in one form or another, neither Mahlstede & Haber (1957), Macdonald (1986), Dirr & Heuser (1987), nor Hartman et al. (1998) defines layering as a technique for bottlebrush buckeye. Bailey (1920) addresses the benefits of wounding during the layering process. As a means of producing large numbers of bottlebrush buckeye with limited facilities and less dependence upon timing, we looked at mound layering.
Materials and Methods: Aesculus parviflora were planted on the University of Kentucky Horticulture Farm during the early 1990s in north/south rows. During 1998 the plants were bush hogged to the ground. Multi-stem regrowth occurred during 1999 and 2000. In August 2000 research was initiated in order to determine if rapid propagation could occur by mound layering Aesculus parviflora. Sawdust was row mounded eighteen inches deep and three feet wide around 41 plants. Starting in August 2000 three stems on ten randomly selected plants were treated on a monthly basis. Treatments included cutting into the stem near the base, treating with No. 3 Hormex and keeping the stem gapped with a section of toothpick. A drip irrigation system was installed in the plot, and scheduled to run 20 minutes twice a day at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. One GPH emitters were spaced every two feet along ½ inch diameter lines.
Results and discussion: During March 2001, plants treated each of the previous months were evaluated for rooting. Plants treated August 2000 had roots formed at the wound site on 29 of 30 stems. Plants treated September 2000 had roots formed at the wound site on 8 of 30 stems. No roots were found on stems treated in October nor November.
During the spring, each plant produced additional new shoots from the base. Late April 2001 the sawdust was reduced to about half its depth to allow for new stem development. Most new 2001 stems were developing new root growth by mid summer without wounding or hormone treatment. Initial results indicate that mound layering could be a viable means for propagating Aesculus parviflora.
Bailey, L. H. 1920. The Nursery Manual. Macmillan Pub., New York.
Bir, R. E. & H. W. Barnes. 1994. Stem cutting propagation of bottlebrush buckeye. Comb. Proc. Intl. Plant Prop. Soc. 44: 499-502.
Dirr, M. A. & C. W. Heuser, Jr. 1987. The reference manual of woody plant propagation: From seed to tissue culture. Varsity Press, Athens, Georgia.
Fordham, A. J. 1987. Bottle brush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) and its propagation. Comb. Proc. Intl. Plant Prop. Soc. 37: 345-347.
Hartmann, H. T., D. E. Kester, F. T. Davies, Jr., & R. L. Geneve. 1998. Plant propagation principles and practices, 6th ed. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.
Macdonald, B. 1986. Practical woody plant propagation for nursery growers. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
Mahlstede, J.P. & E. S. Haber. 1957. Plant propagation. Wiley & Sons, New York.
Wells, J. S. 1985. Plant propagation practices. Amer. Nurseryman Pub., Chicago.
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