Dividing itea?

kelpOctober 5, 2012

I have 2 Virginia sweetspire that are taking over my back yard. I'd like to move them to an area where they can spread as much as they like, but they are too big to move all in one piece. Can I just dig them up in 3 separate sections? You can see where the original shrubs were, as opposed to the suckers that have sprouted up on either side of the shrubs. I figured I'd use that as a sort of guide of where to shove the spade. If so, can I do that to my Cornus 'Arctic Fire", too? If I can, I'd like to divide that one next spring, as I don't want to miss the show this winter. Or, (if I can do this), should I only do it in the fall? Thanks for the input.

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It's hard to give you advise about timing without knowing where you live.

Iteas are VERY EASY to divide, as is Cornus stolonifera. However, dividing 'Farrow' (aka Arctic Fire) is illegal without permission from the patent holder (for what that info is worth).

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

patent law involves dividing FOR SALE OR PROFIT ..

IMHO ... moving them around your own yard is not the intent of that law ... nor would it be worthwhile for a biz to persue such.. which i probably the key ...


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 9:47AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"patent law involves dividing FOR SALE OR PROFIT .."

Ken, as a lawyer you should know better than this! I am 100% sure that your are incorrect here.

"IMHO ... moving them around your own yard is not the intent of that law ... nor would it be worthwhile for a biz to p(u)rsue such.. which i(s) probably the key ..."

You may be correct about this part, however, successful (although very few) cases have been won against homeowners propagating patented plants for their own use. I'm sure it was just a "principle" thing for the patent holder, but it is their right legally.

Propagating illegally for your own use may be like running a stopsign in the middle of the desert where you can see 100 miles in each direction and there's no traffic coming (hence my "for what that info is worth"), but is still illegal (and possibly immoral, depending on ones prospective).

And, BTW, whether or not I have an illegally propagated itea, should not be considered to reflect on the ultimate illegality or morality of the issue. (-:

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Whoops. I live in southeastern MA, zone 7. (Was zone 6 not long ago.)
Didn't mean to cause a fuss. I'm not selling them. I'm not even dividing them because I want more. They have to be moved because they are covering up neighboring flowers and shrubs, and are too big to be moved in one piece.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:48PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Kelp, you haven't caused a fuss at all. Ken and I just have to keep each other on our toes. He's always seeing things I missed (especially in pictures), and sometimes I see things he oversimplifies.

As he indicated, practically, you really probably don't have to worry about this even if you were dividing for personal propagation, but I included the info just for full disclosure.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

University of MO had one of the most clear, concise explanations, so I chose it from among many that were in agreement on this issue. It's OK to propagate plants you buy unless you're propagating for sale:

The U.S. Plant Patent Law was passed in 1930 to encourage the development of new, improved cultivars of asexually propagated plants by allowing them to be patented. The law gives patent holders legal rights to control reproduction of a particular cultivar and to assess a royalty to others who reproduce it for profit. This royalty is meant to provide financial motivation for plant breeders to continue developing improved cultivars of important species. Plant patents are valid for 20 years after the patent application is filed. It is illegal to propagate for personal gain patented plant material without written permission from the holder of the patent rights.

Here is a link that might be useful: copied from *legal* section at bottom

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:01PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


The thing about it is that the law makes ABSOLUTELY NO DISTINCTION between propagating for profit of propagating for any other use. The U of MO can dream up anything they want, but it doesn't change the law! It's just like someone telling the officer that they didn't have to come to a full stop because they could tell that there wasn't anything coming.

Just as stopsign-runners get tickets, occasionally illegal propagators are found guilty. People can always find excuses to avoid following the law, but their rationalization doesn't change the law.

If you don't think the law is just, fight for its repel. If you think it's morally or ethically wrong to follow a law, feel free to have your opinion. If you choose to ignore the law, that's up to you (and possibly the legal system). But being ignorant of a law cannot be used as a legal defense.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:47PM
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