Arbutus: companion plants?

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by slickhorn, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. slickhorn

    slickhorn Member

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    I've recently planted a. menzesii in a raised bed of mixed soil and gravel. What companion plants might I consider to accompany it?

    thanks!
    -b
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Whatever you plant, choose something that won't require too much digging around the soil later. Arbutus do not like to have their roots disturbed--damage to the roots can introduce pathogens. Something native planted with them would be nice. Maybe some small ferns.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you want to have a gray foliage, dryland theme use manzanita, gray junipers, lavender, agaves...wander garden centers and look for gray leaves.

    If you want to have a local native theme, use salal, evergreen huckleberry, low Oregon grape, snowberry, pink honeysuckle, and other native plants you might see growing in local madrona groves.
     
  4. anza

    anza Active Member 10 Years

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    Arbutus Health Issues

    This is an interesting topic of mine. not so much specifically the subject Arbutus, but the actual relationship of companion plantings of common associations we find in a natural habitat of any plant species, not just Pacific Madrone (Arbutus). I was at one time a supervisor for the landscape division of a property management company in San Diego. I was there about four years and prior to that spent a time working with US forestry and a short time with Coors Bio-tech. After this I work for a short while with Plant Health Care Inc out of Pittsburgh.

    Studying native southwest plants and mycorrhizal associations have always been my interest. At the Landscape division for the company in San Diego I was able to stop all petro-chemical applications in favour of not ONLY natural fertilizers, but in particular innoculationg every plant on all of our properties. It was tough at first because when you are a proponant of something that is radically unconventional from the norm, you appear a bit off your rocker in the beginning. I had strong opinions on my methods and often butted heads with the owner and his second in command son-in-law. Needless to say I was proved right. That was three years ago and now I'm in Sweden working with an organization for researching ecological technologies, especially in the field of growing plants. The son-in-law contacted me two months ago wanting to know if I'd be moving back anytime soon. He said exactly one year after I quit and moved to Europe that my replacement went back to the conventional petro-chemical use and traditional pesticide use and the whole plant system went down hill.

    As far as companion plant with Arbutus menziesii, I'd follow the advice of those familiar with the small plants and shrubs. However, I would also specifically look at health plants in nature and what grows around them and since I assume you are up there where they are native then you'd have better oportunity than I. Here's a couple of articles dealing with health of Arbutus and connections to mycorrhizal associations on and with the root systems. The very reason I am a strong proponant of natural companion plantings that replicate nature, is that there is evidence to specific plants within a specific ecosystem doing well together. The first articel deals with this by calling it a hypothesis, but really from my own experience it is a fact. Various mycorrhizae can actually form an underground grid and connect every living thing within a forest environment, even trees of entirely different species, even to various shrubs.

    http://www.forestsoils.org/madrone/ch16_tr.pdf

    http://soilslab.cfr.washington.edu/madrone/prelim_pp.pdf

    In the above articles, there seems to be a strong relationship between very healthy Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) and the conifer Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). The reason for this is that differing plants manufacture various different carbons, alkaloids, etc which can be shared with each other. How ??? Through the mycorrhizal grid under the forest floor. Researcher's have experimented with injecting a chemical into one tree in it's trunk area and having the same chemical show up in surrounding trees. I also personally did the same test with regards 12 four years old Jeffrey pines. My acreage was in Anza, CA (hence the user handle) and done during the heat of early summer before the monsoon rains. If you water any pine in summer there in the heat, there will quickly accumulate numerous droplets of pitch on the central leader and surrounding branch candle buds for next years growth. All trees were planted at 6 months old and innoculated with Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizae. Over a large area of the trees placed at 12 feet apart, I would slow drip only one of the trees. After about an hour, not only the tree I watered, but all of them would display the same pitch resin beaded droplets on the buds because of the grid connection they all had underground through the P.T. association. It's really something kool to see and the health of all are dramatically superior than without.

    This appears to be the same situation in the above studies, so a combination of the right mycorrhizal innoculum and correct companion plants seem to be essential. I have never been disappointed.

    Hope those article help and give a somewhat educational outlook with regard your gardening. :ok:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2009
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Re: Arbutus Health Issues

    Very interesting post anza,

    I hope that people do start to take a more ecological approach to nature and their gardens. Nature has evolved a very complicated system. We humans tend to make changes for our convenience, but often may not understand the chain of reactions that might occur in the ecosystem as a result of our actions.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2009

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