Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

February 7, 2015

Mistletoe Planting Season is here!

Filed under: Biodiversity,Gardening,Mistletoe,Science — Jonathan Briggs @ 11:25 am
Mistletoe berries - looking good for planting in February 2015

Mistletoe berries – looking good for planting in February 2015

Want to grow some mistletoe? Now (February and March ) is the time to start – seeds germinate best in early spring. And here’s how:

You’ll need some fresh berries, or older ones that have been kept in a cool and (crucially) light place since they were picked. The light bit is essential – the seeds in the berries need to be in sunlight to survive, they’ll soon die without it.

The need for light brings me nicely to the next bit – don’t, whatever you do, plant your seeds under a flap you’ve cut in the host bark, or in a deep crack in the host bark, or cover them up with raffia etc. That is the sort of nonsense you get in so many gardening books and (sadly) from many gardening writers/tv presenters (who just repeat what they read in books…). Covering seeds up is NOT the way to do it – it keeps them dark when they need light. And cutting the bark damages the host just where the seeds need it to be healthy. Completely counter-productive.

The way to plant mistletoe is to think about it logically – not follow what the books say. Natural spread is via birds – and the birds excrete the seeds or wipe the seeds from their beaks. And they don’t cut holes in the bark. The seeds stay stuck on a branch, after excretion or wiping because they are sticky. This is why they are sticky – to stick onto the outside of host bark. No holes or binding required.

Squeezing a seed out from a berry

Squeezing a seed out from a berry

So that’s what you must do. Not literally of course, there’s no need for you to actually swallow and excrete, or even just wipe from your lips. That would be somewhat challenging as well as messy and having a potential for unfortunate side-effects. You just have to squeeze the seed out of the berry with your fingers, an ability birds don’t have.

And then you plant your sticky seeds onto a branch, by just rubbing them on until they stick…  It’s as easy as that.

Full details on how to do it are given here: http://mistletoe.org.uk/homewp/index.php/grow-your-own/how-to-grow-mistletoe

Don’t have any berries? Buy a Grow-Kit! If you don’t have any berries you can buy a Grow-Kit, with lots of freshly picked berries, here: http://growmistletoe.co.uk/index.html and here: http://englishmistletoeshop.co.uk/live/?product=grow-kit-gift-cards
UPDATE: Grow-kits are currently (until 21st Feb) on offer with 10% discount at both the above sites.

What else do you need? You do, of course, need a suitable host tree beforehand. And you’ll need quite a lot of patience afterwards, as those seeds take 12-24 months to establish themselves within the tree’s growth cells. It’s only then that they’ll start growing outwards to form a mistletoe growth.

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