Saturday, October 31, 2015

Plum Pollination. 10.27.15

Among the more challenging aspects of growing Asian and Hybrid plums is pollination.  Some varieties self pollinate, many require a different plum variety.    Different websites have different information.  In different areas, rules that apply in one area might also not apply in another, due to differences in temperature or bloom time.  Sometimes, you just plant a tree or trees and hope for the best.

The nursery sites are not always accurate, or don't necessarily give the wanted information.  The source of the information is not usually given. - my source for Shiro and Hollywood.  These 2 seem to pollinate each other.  Shiro is described as partially self pollinating, and Hollywood is described as self pollinating.  They bear well in my Vancouver yard, without other visible plum trees in the neighborhood.

Hybrids can indicate any species with another species, but usually refers to Asian species hybridized with native American species.  Asian species give larger size and more meaty flesh, American species add to the flavors and give much better cold compatibility.  Many of the hybrids are about 100 years old, so are nonpantented, and do not have industry or university sponsors or advocates.

University of Minnesota Ag Experiment Station workers did a detailed project regarding hybrid plum pollination  in 1950.   Among their tables, abstracted below.  I summarized only the varieties that I have seen for sale as trees or scion, various sources.

Prunus simonii

From Table 3.   Hybrid and native plums rated as good pollinizers.
Kaga.  P. americana.  12 recipient varieties tested.  Early bloom.
Toka.  P. american X P. simonii.  22 recipients tested.  Early bloom.
South Dakota.  P. americana or P. americana hybrid.  27 recipients tested.  Medium late bloom

From Table 4.  Hybrid and native plums rated as fair pollinizers.
Ember.   P. salicina hybrid X P. americana.  24 recipient varieties tested.  Bloom season, mid.
Hanska.    P. americana X P. simonii.  17 recipients tested.  Early.
Superior.  P. salicina X (P. americana X P. simonii). 18 recipients tested.  Early / mid.
Shiro.  P. salicina hybrid.  1 recipient tested.

From Table 5.  Pollinizers tested and rated as poor.
Prunus salicina "Shiro"
La Crescent.

Other comments from the  1950 U Minn paper -

The study began in 1932, and extended for a number of years.

It was noted that native plums had good pollen viability, while hybrids had generally poor pollen viability.   Some had 50% with aborted pollen grains.  Many of the hybrids produced pollen with empty or aborted pollen grains.  Toka was shown to have good viability but a poor pollinizer.  However, in the tables Toka is listed as a fair pollinizer.

Lack of fruit production may be defective pollen, low viability of pollen, or pollen incompatibility.

Among hybrids, more of those with female American plum parent, were good pollinizers. P. simonii may also contribute something to hybrids, in terms of being good pollinizers.

The authors also note that many of the hybrids resemble mainly their female parent.  They go on to say that  this may be due to apomixis, reproduction without sexual fertilization.

So you might think you have a hybrid, based on pollination, when reality the variety is selfed.

Rutland Plumcot.
From Table 8.  Compatibility. Recipient named first, pollen sources follow.  P=poor, F=fair, G=good.

Ember.  Hanska (G), Kaga (F), Superior (G), Toka (G), S. Dakota (G), not self.
Hanska.  Ember (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), not self
La Crescent.  Ember (P), Hanska (P), S. Dakota (G), Toka (G), self not mentioned
S. Dakota.  Ember (F), Hanska (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), not self
Superior.  Ember (P), Hanska (G), Kaga (G), Superior (G), Toka (G), does pollinize self.
Toka.  Kaga (G), Superior (G), not self.
Underwood.  Ember (P), Hanska (F), Kaga (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), self not mentioned.
Waneta.  Ember (G), Hanska (G), Kaga (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), self not mentioned.

This seems to disagree with other reports of Toka pollinizing self.

Finally, there is also an issue of bloom season.
Prunus cerasifera

From Table 8.  Varieties of plums suggested...

Early bloom season - Superior, Toka.
Mid bloom season - Ember, Underwood.
Mid to late - South Dakota.


Info from website:
"P. salicina hybrids were developed by crossing native wild plums with plum varieties from California that were not hardy, producing hardy trees with good quality fruit. These include 'Pembina' (sometimes called 'Prairie', 'Acme' or 'Elite'), 'Patterson Pride', 'Brookred', 'Geddes' and 'Perfection' (sometimes known as 'Superb'). These hybrids will only produce fruit if they are pollinated by a wild plum, and they do not provide pollination for any type of plum, including each other. This may explain why some growers have poor fruit production with these trees."

Another lesson - plums of the same variety can have different names.

From "Plums on the Prairies" - by Rick Sawatzky, University of Saskatchewan
On terminology - " Pollinators , usually insects, are vectors of pollen movement. Pollinizers are plants which provide the appropriate pollen for other plants"

On Pollinizing - " George F. Chipman who edited the Prairie Gardener for many years and who wrote about plum pollination in 1934. He summarized a study done by Prof. W. H. Alderman at the University of Minnesota by saying, “...very few hybrid plums would accept pollen freely from other hybrids, but they would all accept pollen from native plums”. 

A precaution comes to mind -  not from a specific source, but from my observation - most of these studies and comments regard plums grown in the Midwest, and usually the North Midwest at that.  There, the climate is not friendly to most Asian plums, which is why they are interbred with American species.  Therefore, the pollen from Asian plum varieties might not be tested on the hybrids.  Both Toka and La Crescent have Shiro as a parent, so Shiro might pollinize those varieties.

From LMtreefarm -
Brookgold - Asian plum
Brookred- Asian plum
Greenville  - Asian (Burbank) by P. nigra
Patterson's Pride - P. nigra X Asian plum, 1960
La Crescent - Howard Yellow apricot X Shiro Asian plum 1923
Pembina - Native Canadian plum X Asian plum "Red June"
South Dakota - pollinator for hybrid plums, a selection of Prunus americana.  1949
Tecumseh - Shiro X "Surprise" -
Toka - Native plum X Chinese plumcot P. simonii.  1911.

Toka plum

HardyFruitTrees states La Crescent is "Also known as 'Crescent', 'Golden La Crescent' and 'Golden Minnesota'. La Crescent is a cross between the 'Shiro' plum (Prunus simonii x Prunus salicina x Prunus cerasifera x Prunus munsoniana) and 'Howard Yellow' plum ( Prunus americana). It was introduced in 1923 by the University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm"

The source has some nice things to say about La Crescent - "sweet and juicy...golden-orange color...flesh is yellow like an apricot... melting and not fibrous... freestone... taste has an hint of apricot. and they note that it is a poor bearer and must be pollinized by and American or Canadian plum.

Of Pemina, they state - "hybrid between a Japanese plum (Prunus salicina) and a Canadian plum (Prunus nigra)... self-sterile... must be pollinated by a wild plum tree, or a pure American plum tree (Prunus americana), or a pure Canadian plum (Prunus nigra)....introduced in 1923 by Niels Ebbesen Hansen from the South Dakota Experimental Station in Brookings"


Based on all of this information -

-Of readily available varieties to pollinize Hybrid plums, Toka seems to be the best candidate.
-South Dakota seems equally good as a pollinizer, but is harder to find.
-It's not clear to me that Asian plums have been tested as pollinizers for hybrid plums.  It's worth adding them into the mix in this area.
-If a pure American or Canadian plum can be found, those are considered among the best pollinizers for hybrid plums.
-Probably, the more types in the mix, the better the chances for a good crop.  If there is not room for multiple plum trees, or ability to are for multiple plum trees, multigraft is an option.


Images are public domain via U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.  " The majority of the paintings were created between 1894 and 1916."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Puttering in Orchard. 10.28.15

Hollywood Plum Development, 2 years from cutting.  10.27.15

Ember Plum, Hollywood Rootstock.  10.27.15

Vandalay Cherry Flower Buds.  10.27.15
 I traded Ember Plum for Hollywood.  Ember is now in ground, Hollywood in container.  The TLC treated Ember is much larger and more sturdy.  Nice look at the roots for both. 

I still intend to grow a Hollywood Plum tree but can use this one for rootstock, and a larger one in-ground.

Three-year-old sweet cherry trees have promising flower buds.  Next Spring we should get a taste.  They got very little water this year and grew much larger anyway.  Sweet cherries are well adapted to this climate.
Vandalay Cherry Flower Buds.  10.27.15

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Home Orchard Plans for 2016. 10.27.15

Raining today. 

Thinking about next year.  Replace some trees that died, and plan for a couple that might, and replace a couple of non-

Esopus Spitzenburg Apple
North Star Cherry.  2 years old.  Apparently voles.  There is no bark on the roots.
Big Asian Plum.  From the size and rings, at least 10 years old.  Apparently mining insects.  There were tunnels under the bark.

Honeycrisp on M27.  Karmijn on M27.  I think this rootstock is way to limiting, and the trees can't grow worth squat.  These are planted near each other, and can be replaced by one larger tree.  I can use the Honeycrisp for scion.
Indian Blood Peach.  Maybe 8 years, only 4 foot tall, no fruit set, ever.

I have 3 Hollywood Plum trees in containers, and one in-ground, started 2 years ago.  The container trees are larger due to TLC.
I have 1 Ember Plum, 8 foot tall whip, grafted onto Hollywood rootstock early 2015. 
I have potential scion sources, existing Toka plum, Hanska grafted onto on unidentified plum tree, Honeycrisp and Liberty apples on M27.
I have an unidentified plum grown as accidental cutting from the tree that died.  It's a good plum, large, meaty dark purple flesh.

Toka Plum.  Bark on trunk is highly damaged.  I don't know, by what.  I want to preserve the variety.  Use scion from existing tree,  on Hollywood Plum rootstock.

Montmorency Cherry
Plan.  Subject to change at any whim.

1.  Make a new Toka Plum, grafting from existing tree onto Hollywood Plum rootstock. 

2.   Move the unidentified plum cutting to a better location.  Maybe were the North Star Cherry died.

3.  Remove Indian Free Peach.  Replace with Surefire Cherry, new tree.

4.  Remove small Hollywood plum.  That one needs more TLC, transfer to container.  Replace with Ember on Hollywood rootstock.  I can  do that this fall.

5.  Make a Hanska Plum on Hollywood rootstock.  Grow in container to give it TLC until it is a good size.

6.  Buy scion for another plum variety - Superior?  Graft onto the 3rd Hollywood rootstock and give it TLC.

7.  Replace the M27 trees with Nadia Cherry / Plum hybrid.

8.  Try whip / tongue grafting to top work remaining branches of Almaden Duke cherry with Ranier and Lapin sweet cherries.  The T-budding didn't work so well.  A couple might have taken.  This tree has 2 rootstock suckers.  Maybe I should graft onto those, and cut down the original tree.

9.  I have the first apple that I grafted, but mixed the labels.  It is either Sutton's Best or Esopus Spitzenberg.  Either way, I can give that a try.  There is a second graft on that one, again mixed up.  Either Liberty or Jonagold.  I might graft onto that tree, a 3rd and 4th variety.  I can use the Honeycrisp, and might use scion from Fedco for another.

Hanska Plum
10.  I have rootstock, semidwarf but unsure which.  I can graft onto that and keep it in container for TLC.  Options, Pristine, which is early and very good, or something new from Fedco. 

11.  I think I will buy Sweet 16 from Burnt Ridge.   If so, it will need a location. 

12.  Oregon Curl Free Peach might also not make it.  The Peach Leaf Curl didn't kill it.  Canker might.  If so, I think this will be a good spot for a plum.  If  Toka doesn't make it, that will also be a spot for one of the new grafts getting TLC.

That seems like a lot.  I could easily use up the entire 2 acres, but I can't take care of that many.  This year I was not able to water enough, which might have contributed to a couple of deaths and some of the non-thriving trees.  Definitely Montmorency cherry and Saijo persimmon were stressed, but they look like they will make it.  The multigraft apples on the other side of the road, had very little watering but lived.  They are still young.  One is Chehalis + Akane + Jonagold + Summerred + Fuji, the other is the one described about with 2 semi-unknowns.

There is also a Jonagold on M27 in a flower border that contains 3 young columnar trees.  I think that will come out, and a new columnar that I grafted last year will replace it.

All images on this page are public domain, via U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.  They either illustrate varieties I have, or might obtain, or I used as general illustration for that species.  Illustrations are late 19th and early  20th centuries.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Home Orchard Society Fruit Tasting Show. 10.18.15

Great fruit show last weekend.  Home Orchard Society.  I volunteered at the membership table for the morning.  Didn't know what I was doing but everyone was nice.

Seed Starting in Fall. 10.20.15

Seedlings.  10.20.15
 Sometimes after a rough day, I putter around the seedlings and it gives me some peace.  So many people are such anal orifices.   Plants are just plants.

Days are getting shorter.  Nothing I can do outside after or before work.   I can putter with seedlings.

I've never done this before, with daylilies.   I did grow some native plum seedlings over the winter, a few years ago.

When the daylily seeds have stratified for one month in the refrigerator, I place them at room temp in their paper towel / zipper bags.   Check the seeds every couple of days.  Many sprout within one to two weeks.  When I see sprouts, I transfer the sprouted seed to a 6-pack containing seed starting medium.  Some of those have sprouted and grown large enough that I move them up to a starting pot with potting soil.  When in seed starting medium, I water with 1/4 teaspoon of tomato miracle grow per gallon of water.
Seedlings.  10.20.15

Some were too close to the lights, resulting in a few light-burned leaves.  Not enough to set them back significantly.

So far, 3 apricot seeds have germinated.  Of Daylilies, I now have 1 dozen seeedlings from pod parent "Happy Returns", and 6 seedlings from pod parent "Chicago Apache".  There are germinated seeds from "Ice Carnival" and one from "Vigaro-labeled" NOID.  Each pod parent was hybridized with a contrasting variety, diploid to diploid and tetraploid to tetraploid.

There is also a cactus that was rootstock for a pink grafted cactus.  The scion eventually died, and the rootstock grew new branches.  I cut off a branch, to start a new plant.  Tentative ID Hylocereus undatus but I could be wrong.  If correct, that is "Dragon fruit" cactus.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bearded Iris Fall Bloom. 10.17.15

Bearded Iris "Sunny Disposition"  10.17.15
This bearded iris reblooms fairly reliably each fall.  I don't care for fall blooming iris because the rains have usually started.  Rain on these flowers makes them look like wet nose tissue paper.  This year it's not raining at the moment, so we get a pretty nice flower.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Opuntia. Bumblebee. Peach Seed. 10.14.15

 This is a good start for my opuntia trial.   I have two "Texas Opuntia Cuttings" via Amazon.  I imagine these are just some cactus pads that someone in San Antonio went outside and cut off a larger cactus.    "The Mother plants are direct offspring from some of the San Antonio Missions including the Alamo! A large cactus with flattened, mostly spiny stems that produce deep red, juicy and sweet fruits.".  They are labeled as "Spineless Thornless Prickly Pear, Nopal Verde Opunti" which I can't find anywhere, but suspect they are Opuntia Engelmannii.   The others were posted last week.

If nothing else, they will be interesting in the sunroom for the winter, and require minimal or no watering.

Random pic of one of the largest bumblebees I have seen this year.  Haven't seen any in months.

Sprouting peach seed from last week or so.  Planted in seed starting medium.  This one is from "Oregon Curl Free".

Texas Opuntial Pad Cutting.  110.15.15

Bumblee on Dianthus.  10.15.15

Germinating Peach Seed.  "Oregon Curl Free" Seed Parent.  10.5.15

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fishing. 1960.


Time flies.  I think these are all about 1960.  In each, I'm the smaller little boy.  My dad made that boat by hand.  Fishing was something we all did back then.  Mississippi river.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Apricots from seeds. 10.6.15

Apricot Seeds.   Stratigied 2 months, then warm 10 days.  10.6.15-
Apricot seed sprouting, before covering with seed starting medium.  10.6.15
Here are some apricots seeds that I stratified 2 months in the fridge.

The peacotum seeds rotted.

I have others, mainly peaches.

I took these apricot seeds out of the fridge, left them on moist paper towel to sprout.  Room temp.  At 10 days, most are splitting and several have a root.

I planted the 3 with the longest roots in dampened peat-moss-based seed starting medium, one inch deep.  They are back in the seed starting rack again.  I left the others to continue sprouting on moist paper towel, in the same zipper plastic bag.

These are a locally grown apricot.  I looks like there will be several trees to play with.  I can use one for scion, grow a couple in containers, and grow a couple in the ground.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


 Since I did not know which squashes would do well, I planted multiple varieties.  Pumpkins are just orange round squashes. 

No use growing all one type when it's so easy to sample all sorts.

I did not know the summer would be so hot.  Expecting cool climate, I started the squash plants indoors, and planted when the soil was warm.  In order to keep the soil warm, I did not mulch.   I did not get them all into the ground as quickly as i wanted, and some were delayed.  But most did very well.

All can be cooked in similar ways.  We usually roast them.  Some can be baked to soften, then puree for pies.  My favorite last year was Waltham butternut squash, made into pie.  I do have one of those that is not yet ripe.

I like just looking at them.

The largest was Pink Banana Squash.  18 pounds.

Ning is holding a Pink Banana Squash, and a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  Expect some taste testing this winter.

No use saving seeds from these.   Most are cross pollinated, most by Zucchinis which had the most male flowers.  I might grow one or two for novelty but with the cross pollination, none are expected to be true next year.

Still, a squash is a squash.  So I would expect any to be edible, even if they look strange.

Sedum propagation. 10.4.15

Sedum propagation.  10.4.15
I'll add more photos from my home computer.  This one is at Battleground.

All of the large-plant sedum stem cuttings that I took 8.18.15 have taken root and grown.  So it's roughly 6 weeks.  They also have flower buds and growth of new stems from the base.  This is true for the green-leaf and red-leaf types.

Very cool.   For almost no effort, and from 2 original stems cut into shorter pieces,  I now have a half dozen new sedum plants.

Two of the leaf cuttings have grown roots.  It will take longer to see if they will grow.  most of the leaf cuttings died.

UPDATE:  These are the other sedum cuttings.  Again, these are large - type sedums.  Some are the type sold as "Autumn Joy".    For the smaller sedums, all that is needed is cut off a bunch of pieces with a pair of scissors, insert the cut end into some soft soil, and treat them like seedlings with a little water and weeding.  I've never had a sedum not-grow from that type of cutting.

More sedum cuttings.  10.6.15
 It's interesting to see that some of the cuttings produced more terminal stems, then flowers.  That is even though these are pieces that I cut from the original, long stem, and potted up each one.  And they all have little plants growing around the base of the cuttings.

The plan is that, once winter sets in, keep these in a sheltered place during the coldest weather, and plant in the bee border late Winter / early Spring.

Opuntia trial. 10.3.15

Opuntias for experiment.  10.4.15
These are the opuntias that I want to overwinter.  I hope they will produce fruits next year.

The larger one is from Raintree, sold as "Large fruit opuntia".  Image below links to their catalog URL.

Raintree Nursery Opuntia.
From Raintree catalog:  "(Opuntia engelmannii) Like the cycloides cactus, but with red/purple, flavorful fruit that is twice as large. Enjoy the pretty yellow flowers. It grows to 4' tall and has blonde colored spines.". 

Did I post the info on the smaller one?   That was from Shorty's nursery in Vancouver WA.  Just being local does not prove adapted to this area. I have seen lots of things that were not idea here.  But it was different, so there we are.  This one is "Baby Rita Prickly Pear".  There is a beautiful photo at this link.   On Dave's garden, the pads are purple.  On there is a beautiful photo of the pink flower, and this description:  "Prickly Pear season starts with Opuntia “Baby Rita”, a santa-rita hybrid with small and spiny pads. Small pads, will grow 3 feet tall. Very spiny pads turn purple in winter.  Hardy to 15F.  Monrovia - the brand for this plant, states this is Opuntia basilaris hybrid. "Exceptional dwarf hybrid with brilliant carmine colored flowers in a small padded, purple skinned prickly pear. Thrives from the coast to inland deserts, and even into high altitude mountain areas! Loaded with spring blooms, the purple foliage intensifies in winter, providing year-round interest." and gives hardiness range as 0 to 15F.

I was interested in opuntia in the past.   These photos were from my yard in 2007-2008.   I did not get ripe fruit from the opuntias, and they died after a hard freeze the next winter.  I enjoyed that the flowers changed color, so there were yellow and orange flowers on the same plants.  The freeze-kill might have been because I did not keep them sufficiently dry, or the variety might not have been as hardy as needed.

With summer 2015 hotter and drier than any on record, highly dry adapted plants like opuntias are worth another look for fruit, flowers, and vegetable - nopales.  Worth a try.

Opuntia in Bloom.  Vancouver WA 2008

Opuntia.  Vancouver WA 2007

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Greens in Container Garden. 10.3.15

Cilantro.  10.3.15

Mixed Greens.  10.3.15
 Greens, planted late summer, now eating regularly.  Most are doing well.

Radishes look like they might be woody.

I should thin the turnips.

I'm not as crazy about eating the Swiss Chard, as I am about growing them.
Spring Scallions and Turnips.   10.3.15

Chinese Greens and Cilantro.  10.3.15

Daylily Seedlings. 10.3.15

Daylily Seedlings 1 week after moving to seed starting medium..  10.3.15
The first of the daylily seedlings are doing nicely.  These were from variety "Happy Returns", a repeat blooming, pale yellow, compact variety.   At the time they set seed, I did not have others blooming, and did not pollinate them.  They are most likely self pollinated, and expected to be compact yellow flowered plants as well.

Seeds were stratified for one month, damp paper towel in zipper bag in refrigerator.  Then set at room temp in same damp paper towel/zipper bag.  If mold starts to grow, I change the paper towel to a fresh one with fresh water.  Checking every few days.  They started germinating in 2 weeks.  I planted in seed starting medium.  They are under lights.  The plan is get a head start, see if they can bloom next year.

Today I noted the first of the pod-parent Chicago Apache germinated.  Most of those were pollinated with Fooled Me.  Both are tetraploid.  Depending on the genetics, they could be red, yellow, or other colors and probably have an eye zone.  I also tried pollinating some Chicago Apache with the either incorrectly labeled or mutated, lavender, labeled "Daring Deception".  I did not cover or emasculate them, so there is a random element as well.  The last ones may be with the unlabeled "Vigaro" which has an eye zone and brick-red, almost brown color.

I have lots more seeds stratifying in the refrigerator. 

Daylily seeds 5 days after removing from refrigerator.  9.26.15