Viewing pforrester's Garden Diary: matillaja poppy- romneya coulteri
Friday, May 21, 2010
LilyFamily: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lilium (LIL-ee-um) (Info)
Friday, June 9, 2006
propagationHow to multiply Matilija poppies . . . challenging to very difficult
If you have a stand of Matilija poppies Nov/Dec is the best time to divide them. which is the easiest way to propagate them. Growing them from seed requires earth, fire, water and a little voodoo. You should start to see new shoots coming up from the base late fall. Cut back the plant to the new shoots. Prepare a site to plant the division in making sure there is adequate drainage.
You can also propagate Matilija poppies by root cuttings. Dig down around the plant until you find roots about the size of a pencil. Cut a number of sections about three inches in length. Prepare planting site as you would for a division or you can use a pot filled with SAND. Place the cuttings down in the sand about an inch and keep moist but not soggy. You should see growth in three or four weeks. Good Luck (you�ll need it!) This did not work for me but I haven't tried the sand yet.
If you like uphill battles, you'll enjoy propagating Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri). Another reason for propagating them would be if you can't find plants at a nursery. One way or the other, it's not going to be easy. The Matilija doesn't reproduce readily--in nature or for man.
There are the three ways to propagate this big, beautiful white-flowered plant.
Digging up suckers
The easiest method, digging up and planting suckers in potting soil, is described above. The only starting method that's easier is to set out a plant from a nursery. I was told to irrigate with 30 gallons of water after planting to soothe the roots which resent transplanting. But I have talked to others that transplanted them and did not drown them in water.
Time to dig the suckers is from November through February.
Making and rooting rhizome cuttings
Of the many ways to grow Matilijas from cuttings, all are difficult for amateurs. Nurserymen succeed better: they have more experience and better facilities, and they don't fuss over the cuttings.
Indeed, much of the loss that occurs in home propagation comes from this needless fussing. A commercial nurseryman overseer concluded that amateurs overwatered the cuttings and wiggled them too often, testing for roots.)
For cutting wood, take sections of either the thick, mostly horizontal rhizomes or thick, vertical roots. Consensus among professionals is that rhizomes beat roots.
I had no luck with root cuttings in potting soil but might try sand.
The thicker and longer the section, the better, because cuttings do their initial growing from carbohydrates in the tissue, and the more carbohydrates, the more growth you'll get.
Use cuttings of largest possible diameter and 2 to 3 inches long.
Put rhizome cuttings into top of pottingsoil in 2- to 4-inch pots, like floating logs. Put root cuttings vertically with upper end (as it grew) at the surface. Cover surface with grit (fine gravel) as a mulch. Water pots once and place in polyethylene bags, close the ends, and leave pots on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse.
When new growth is about 2 inches long, remove the pots from the bags and put them in a moist, still place out of direct sunlight until plants are 3 to 4 inches high. By that time, you can assume that the plants are rooted. Knock them out of their pots and plant them in 1-gallon or larger containers until the following October (cool weather), when you can plant them out. I got this info on the web but have not tried it yet.
Germinating and growing seedlings
Matilija seeds aren't commonly sold. But can be found here:
Nurserymen vary in how long they burn the pine needles--from a quick burndown of 5 minutes to a lengthy, refuel-if-necessary 20 minutes. Both work.
The other method: put seeds in a cup and cover them with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide; stir well. After 30 minutes, pour seeds into a strainer and rinse in fresh water. Mix seeds with 3 parts perlite and 1 part peat moss. Moisten the mass and put it in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three months. Then plant the seeds.
Suckers: surest way to increase Matilija poppy. Suckers sprout from underground horizontal rhizomes and then form roots. Dig and replant them. This did not work for me but I didn't do it in the fall/winter.
Cuttings: here's one way to go
Seeds: I have been successful at getting them to germinate. See my comment under Romney Coulteri. Here is one of two ways to make reluctant seeds germinate. Center, mix seeds with potting soil throughout a seed flat; cover with 8 inches of pine needles or other natural tinder, then
burn up to 20 minutes. (I have not tried it this way b/c I am afraid I will burn the seeds. I smoke soil over a low fire of pine needles and oak leaves (native to CA)