Arbutus: tips for starting an arbutus tree

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by Eleanor Gregory, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Eleanor Gregory

    Eleanor Gregory Member

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    I purchased 2 arbutus seedlings last spring and planted them on a rocky south-facing ocean slope, protected by a decaying douglas fir log. One seedling died within a few months and the other survived to this spring (a few buds but a number of dying leaves). Now it looks like seedling #2 is about to die.

    I really would like to have an arbutus growing on our property (south-facing, west of Sooke, Juan de Fuca strait). I could try again on a rocky berm sheltered by our house. There are a few arbutus trees in the immediate vacinity but not many. I did clump several handfuls of soil from nearby arbutus trees on the seedlings.

    Should I try starting a new plant from seed, or another seedling from a speciality nursery?

    P.S. The 2 garry oak seedlings I planted early last fall are (knock on wood) doing well.
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    sw USA
  3. WesternWilson

    WesternWilson Active Member 10 Years

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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Arbutus seem to like it rough, for sure. I got a very, very small (2" pot size) seedling at the UBC native plant sale and it transplanted well into our gravel and clay, cement like garden soil. It grew slightly the first season, slightly the second, and put out three lovely strong shoots in this season, its third. It is in filtered light under a canopy of mature cedar/fir/alder/bigleaf maple, and is also shaded by a decrepit rhododendron, nearby. I figured as it got older it would seek out the spots of sun available. In those three years, it has quadrupled in size, but from only thumb sized when planted, so it is still very small.

    I wonder if gathering arbutus seed in the fall or winter might work better for you...plant a handful in spots you'd like a tree?

    Neighbours have just planted two in their front garden...both are about 4' high, so I watch them with interest. The soil is similar to ours (bad!) and they are getting a lot of direct sunlight, and will be getting regular water via the in ground sprinkling system.

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