Growing Arbutus From Seed

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Eric Odle, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. Kada

    Kada Active Member 10 Years

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    Southern vancouver island has LOTS. most of greater victoria is low. but driving to mill bay (1.5hr +/- from ferry) then into shawnigan lake will take you to some more areas that are slightly higher in the hills and further from ocean spray. Old baldy mountain would be my suggestion. Easy to walk up, or drive if you have 4x4 (private land i think?, its gated).

    I remember LOTS of the smaller arbutus like plants that look more like wiry shrubs further in the mountains far from ocean. From shawnigan you can take the road from the village, or masons beach, and go out toward the back side of the lake. instead of turning, stay straight/right on the main road which goes into the hills. You reach Koksilah park eventually (car can drive these roads last time i went, but its not paved). When you reach Koksilah Park, its gated soon after. so park. I saw eh trees while hiking from there up to wild deer lake. Cross the bridge at Koksilah and explore, it will be all walking from there. could bring a bike and do logging roads, i saw them in open cut areas. They grow thick kind of like broom, about the same height as well. Lots of bears eat the berries, and the area has TONS of cougar and bear, so be careful.

    I know its not on the mainland, but if you are really searching for localities somewhat away from the ocean, i suggest these 2 for being 100% guaranteed to have trees.

    The new paved road from Port renfrew to Lake Cowichan (nice drive) i saw very very few from the road, but if you find them near lake cowichan it would be surely a good bet they would grow fine in your area if ocean proximity is a factor.

    Anyone know why exactly they like to stick to the coast? Everyone seems to "know" it, but never understood the reason why.
     
  2. Eric Odle

    Eric Odle Member

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    I've noticed that as you go further south you will find them more and more inland. Down in California they are the in the western Sierra Nevada foothills, 300 or so miles inland and at higher elevation than you find them here. It would seem they are pickier in their habitat as you get to the northern extent of their range.
     
  3. pmurphy

    pmurphy Contributor

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    I know the further north you go the rainier/wetter it gets and you will find few arbutus trees. I think they like the drier coastal areas, or areas with similar types of conditions

    "Arbutus in the wild typically flourish in a location that is within five miles of the ocean. In addition, they are common on rocky bluffs and typically need growing sites that have soils that drain quickly. Arbutus plants dislike shade and often co-exist in open areas with other plant species........ They cannot survive in humid conditions.
    Besides well-drained soil, arbutus prefer neutral to acidic soil. Because they have a sturdy tap root, they require no watering during the summer"
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi,

    So we don't run into copyright issues, if you are quoting other web sites, at a minimum provide a link to the site. Things are a bit better in Canada re: copyright and educational use than they used to be when the forums first started (there were no educational exemptions), but it is still good form.

    Here's some contrary information to that site, via Floridata: Arbutus menziesii:

     
  5. Kada

    Kada Active Member 10 Years

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    interesting about southern being inland.

    Would it be logical to think it could be due to root rot then? Vancouver island is like a massive chunk of rock, but coastal is far more exposed and dry whereas inland is pretty moist in comparison, and they are not to be found. the only "inland" populations i find on the island are always in clear cut areas that stay exposed or naturally rocky areas.

    pretty much the exact opposite as the above California description. I wonder if we are all talking of the same species/sub-species/variety etc? I find the lower shrubby "arbutus" to be far more water tolerant and grows in richer soil areas, but still usually exposed or on the edges of forests in cut areas.
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Only two taxonomists have published varieties of Arbutus menziesii, and both of these are commonly rejected. As far as most taxonomists are concerned, it is the same species throughout its distribution range: no subspecies, varieties or forms.
     
  7. Eric Odle

    Eric Odle Member

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    I was quite surprised last summer when driving up Mount Diablo in the San Francisco Bay area (east bay, just south of where the bay divides into the Sacramento and San Juaquin river delta). This is a very dry location that doesn't get much fog compared to the coast, brown all summer and quite hot. We were up about 2500 feet and my wife pointed out that there were arbutus everywhere. They do not grow much below about 2000 feet there.

    It completely floored me because arbutus is easily my favorite tree, and I grew up around Mt. Diablo but never noticed them. I guess our wet weather in the PNW really brings out the beauty of these trees, because that's when I first took notice. Nothing quite compares to an arbutus tree in the afternoon sun after it has just rained!

    I'd have to agree with the understory tree assessment, I was recently looking at a specimen on Hornby Island that grew about 30' horizontally out of a shady area to find sunlight. That's why I put up a temporary shade at my location, and so far the seedling that isn't in the shade is doing quite poorly.
     
  8. Eric Odle

    Eric Odle Member

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    Wild Arbutus Transplant Making a Go of it

    Well, close to a a year and a half into it and 5 of 6 of the original wild transplants have died. The one that survived could have been predicted from the beginning, it always seemed to have more will to live than the others. And sure enough, this spring it tripled in size!

    More research and observation on my part has suggested planting cultured arbutus trees as the most likely to succeed in locations where they do not grow naturally. I'm testing that theory with two cultured trees purchased from Wells Nursery in Mt. Vernon, but originally sourced, I am told, from Langley, BC.

    Arbutus trees in Langley? Not exactly arbutus habitat. Maybe if they are starting them off there, my sunny location in view of Drayton Harbor in Blaine will encourage them to grow!

    As the wild plants perished, I replaced them with cultured trees. So now I have one flourishing wild tree, one late wild transplant with poor prospects, one cultured tree planted in early May, and another planted early July.

    I'm curious now what the drawbacks of the cultured varieties might be. Can they reproduce like normal trees?

    Oh, and I found two other trees in Blaine that were likely planted there on purpose. They are located just after you cross the border going south and are entering the town of Blaine. One is in the middle of the traffic roundabout, and the other on the side of the same roundabout as you re-enter the freeway going south.

    This time of year we spend a few weeks out in the islands, particularly Saltspring and Hornby islands, where arbutus trees grow like weeds. Sometimes I wonder about that in light of my efforts. Time will tell who survives in these less-than-ideal conditions, but I am patient and determined to persist until I have successful trees.
     

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  9. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    "Arbutus trees in Langley?" Well, the photo is of the only one I know. It's on the S. slope of Willoughby planted into a rock pile, and it is not a really happy tree. I expect there are others in gardens here and there. This one may well be gone by now since it is in an area being developed for housing - I'll go past in the few days and see if it is still there this year.
     

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