Kalmia Latifolia

poaky1October 14, 2010

I wanted to know if anyone has grown Mt Laurel from seed? I know this is the Rhod/ azalea forum but I'm trying all the forums even remotely related to Mt laurel.Poaky1

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

There's no reason why it couldn't be done following the same procedures as you would use for rhododendrons. The difficulties would also be the same: tiny and vulnerable seedlings which are painfully slow growing and no guarantee as to what kind of flowers you'd get from open pollinated seed.

Kalmia can be grown from cuttings, but it's a difficult process with a low rate of success - that's why the vast majority of mountain laurels are propagated by tissue culture.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 5:47AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

According to Druse (Making More Plants), while fresh kalmia seed sown immediately may germinate without stratification, unlike rhododendron you could achieve better germination with stratifying (moist chill of approx 40F) for 90 days before bringing back to warm. Surface sow as per rhododendron.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 10:52AM
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Thanks for the replies,I will try direct sowing some and put some in a pot close to the house, so I can keep it moist even when there's snow outside,I will try peat pots so I can avoid bothering the roots so much, I've heard that they are hard to get to germinate.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 8:02PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

If you're really going to try it, I'd recommend sowing the seed on top of live moss - this works for all ericaceous plants. I've generally used haircap moss, but any species should be fine.

Avoid peat pots - they wick away moisture from all the exposed surfaces and are very hard to keep evenly moist. Instead, use small plastic flats, surface sow and place in a ziplock plastic bag. Place under flourescent lights if you can, otherwise put in a bright spot, but avoid direct sun - high temperatures are fatal.

Root disturbance shouldn't be a big concern. Kalmia have dense fibrous roots just like rhododendrons so are easy to transplant. You do need to sow lightly and thin out the seedlings when small. The seeedlings will need to stay in the flats for probably 2 years. It's important to gradually remove the plastic bag, but you need to maintain a very humid atmosphere around the seedlings.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 5:53AM
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Yes I am going to try it, If i,m going to keep them in flats for 2 years should I put them outside in the growing season in a sheltered area? If not how will they fare once put out for good?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 8:36PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

It's a long term project without absolute rules. Unless things go very much faster than usual, the seedlings will need two years in flats before they are large enough to transplant. Then they need to go into individual pots with another 2 to 3 years before they are big enough to plant out. (Now you know why commercial production of kalmia does not use seeds.)

Whether they go outside in the summer is up to you, but they need to kept cool and moist wherever they are. Use liquid fertilizer at half or less strength.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 5:55AM
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