Trouble with growing mayapples

linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)January 23, 2008

I have had good success with many woodland natives, but for some reason, I *cannot* seem to get mayapples to grow successfully, let alone spread.

Over the years, I have repeatedly tried to grow them from many sources including botanical garden sale plants in perennial pots and healthy transplants from private property. They grow for a bit, they don't thrive well, and they only occasionally come back at all.

I have tried them in several areas, in high to moderate humus soil, partial shade to near-deep shade, fairly moist to moderate moist areas....

There must be something I am missing that they need. Any advice?

Linda S

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

All I can do is commiserate with your problem. And it sould not help if I told you they were native on my property and they grow like weeds. I lost all my Polygala paucifolia and Anemonella, both of which were indigenous on my lot.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 9:27PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Even commiseration does help some. Thanks. Although, if I could afford to, I would drive out to your place come spring and help you out with your 'weeds' [grins].

For me, goldenseal is a weed.

I don't know if my mayapple problem is a pH issue, or some subtle nutrient issue. Just wish I could get them to be a 'weed' around here. Our wooded portion is is not large, and I would be very happy to just dig them out where they weren't wanted. They have an old childhood connection, and I would like to have them living here.

1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 8:43PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

I had another thought about my recalcitrant mayapples..... Are they at all sensitive to juglone? To growing within range of a walnut, or in soil invested with leaves/fruits of a walnut?

The areas where I have tried to start mayapples are within 75 to 150 ft of a black walnut. I am used to putting this into the equation on many veggies, but it might have something to do with my may-apple question.

Clues welcome.

Linda S

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 9:46PM
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When I have found them growing in the wild, they have always been in humus woodland soil under deciduous trees.
An effort to duplicate that environment for them in my garden has always been a failure.
I had a few from a construction site rescue and decided to plant them in a bare, fairly dry spot near some Forsythia and Aucuba. that was mostly unamended clay soil and received several hours of morning sun. After a couple of years, when it seemed that they were barely existing, I was ready to admit failure once again, but during the third or fourth year, they decided that they weren't going to do any better and started to multiply at an exponential rate. I now have dozens of them and expecting to see hundreds in a few more years.
I never cease to be amazed at the adaptability of our native flora! :Rb

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 9:58PM
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"I never cease to be amazed at the adaptability of our native flora!" Such a true statement! They demonstrated this to me once more in last summer's terrible drought in our area. Anything that had been in the ground two years or more survived beautifully. As for mayapples, I try NOT to plant them because I am afraid they will increase too much. I do, however, have a small patch that has not seemed too aggressive. You should really check on that black walnut. I have a friend who has one and has a long list of what not to plant...will check with her when she comes back from a trip to see if mayapples are on that list. I just don't attempt to plant anything near my black walnut. Whatever is there will have to suffice.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:42AM
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thosedarnsqurls(Up-State NY 5)


Could you be planting the Mayapples in too wet of a spot?
Mine are downright invasive in my sandy raised beds, which tend to be on the dry side.
Also, as Razorback33 said, it takes about 2 years for the rootsystems to establish, then WATCH OUT!

Sure sounds like you got voles.
I lost my Hepaticas/Gaywings/Anemonellas for years until I started planting them in homemade wire cages to protect their tasty little roots. The voles just love them. Stick your fingers down in the soil and see if there are giant air pockets where plants used to be.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:30PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Thanks to all!
I don't think they've been too wet. We've had long-periodic to persistent droughts every year for the last few. The mayapples, and a few other unestablished things, were the only ones that got watered much at all. Wouldn't have been enough to keep them too wet.

I'm still curious about the walnut possibility. What is the old rule of thumb? I think it runs "a hundred yards or a hundred years" in terms of not dealing with the juglone in the soil. There aren't many areas that aren't within that influence somehow on our property. Except for veggies, I have ignored this. Other plants either made it or they didn't.

But I think that Razorback may have the key here.... I've been far too fussy and gentle :-)) I carelessly heeled in the jewelweed among a mess of myrtle, and it's a welcome weed. I chunked the goldenseal into a couple of unamended soil spots, because I didn't have the time to fuss, and then they got well-tromped by an idiot neighbor. They flourished and spread. The trout lilies and Solomon's seal were plunked into poorish soil in too much shade. They're fine, and spreading. But I've been trying to match *the perfect woodland locale* for the blasted mayapples, and fussing....

I think I'll find some mature ones in peril [I'm your only hope!], and then put them wherever there's an open spot [That's as good as it gets. Suck it up!], and see what happens. Can't be less successful than my previous tries, and it will be a lot less stress!

Linda S

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Linda , I think you are in Michigan, I am in Pennsylvania
and I think the climate must be similar.The Mayapples seem
do very well on my little woodlands.I have a fairly decent
slant to it so it never seems to be to wet because of the water run off.The canopy consists mainly of maples and produces dappled light.Ferns,Spanish and Virginia bluebells
seem to be right at home with them.
I have plenty of voles in the open areas around my wooded section. So far they have not been intersted in going in there.I think it because its drier than the open flatter parts( holes and tunnels everywhere )several of mine grow right close to trees and bushes

Here is a link that might be useful:

1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 10:29PM
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Linda, I forgot to tell you I was sending a photo of my Mayapples near a tree on my slightly slanted hill,and to just click on the photobucket link to see it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:04PM
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I have mayapples growing in part of a creek bed accross the street in a wooded area. The question I ask is how deep did you plant them. The ones I used to dig up at a construction site were quite deep.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:39PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Ahh.... Thanks for the picture. Yes, tomasincas, your area is very similar to mine [climate, maples, ferns, bluebells] but much prettier..... Beautiful photo! I'm working on it :-).

And maifleur, the depth question is something I have not looked at. May be important. The ones I got some years ago in 6" pots from the botanical garden I planted to match the depth of pot, but I may not have taken care to amend and mix up the soil in the hole.... I may have left them with a big 'soil boundary' problem, and those were also the first unexpected years of the drought issue here. I wasn't used to worrying about that.

The ones I later dug out as transplants from an acquaintance's property over a couple of years, I tried to dig out to at least a six" wide by 8" depth, but I may not have gotten deep enough, or wide ehough, and may have done too much rhizome damage.

I'll try again this year. I really appreciate all the advice and ideas.

"This time for sure!" :-))

Linda S

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 8:47PM
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If you need it, I have got plenty. They are growing under decidious trees, laurel and rhodadendrian (can't spell it). The best ones grow close to my pond's water fall. Let me know if you need any more.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:39PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Thanks, happyseed! I just might take you up on that. I'll see what I can track down locally first, since they should be more adjusted to our cold up here, but I might be in touch later on. I really appreciate the offer!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 7:15PM
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Linda, I'm zone 5b between Lansing and Detroit. I have Mayapples galore in the spring. If I'm in a convenient location, you are welcome to come get a few. Mine grow at the bottom of a slope in a ditch like area. Wild cherries, ash, oak and birch cover them for full shade in summer. Spring has quite a bit of light. The soil is black michigan PEAT. Virginia creeper, grape, wild rose, wild raspberry, and occasional patches of poison ivy share the environment. (We can get to the mayapples without going through poison ivy). They get spots of something in the summer, but come back gang busters every spring. E-mail me if you are interested, and we can make some arrangements come spring.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 2:30PM
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BlueAng(z4 MN)

Now I'm wondering if my mayapples were not planted deep enough? I also have very few mayapples and they are very slow to spread in sandy soil. Another house not very far from my house have plenty of mayapples. No walnut trees for me, even though seedlings sometimes appear in my yard from squirrels carrying them from very far.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 7:03PM
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i have mayapples all over my property. by yhe way, have you tried growing them on a steep slope? thats where all of mine seem to be growing:)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 10:55AM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

Mayapples like dry-ish soil....mine are planted under a big silver maple. They seem to like it there.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 1:56PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Thanks, guys

I have learned a lot, and the suggestions have been great!

The 'summary' I'm left with is that some seem to have more luck with drier sites, like under maples or on steep slopes. Others seem to have more luck with bottom of slope or richer sites. Shade matters, but not too much. Soil quality matters, but not too much... Darned if I know!! I think I will email squirrel girl, and see if her offer is still open. And then plant them in different areas, and see which one works right here. But I am determined not to fuss at them this time [grins]. I'll water them in well, and then pretty much let them tough it out! [grins].

Thanks for all your help with this!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 8:01PM
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I have large colonies of mayapples in moist organic soil in my woods. But then again, I also have some in some dryer soil under trees on well-drained berms. Level ground, slopes--they don't seem to be too picky here. I have some in full sun, some in full shade. Certainly I don't do a thing to them, and they were there when I bought the property. That's my little secret to growing mayapples--make sure they're on the property when you buy them. =)

They do seem versatile when established.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:17PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

That's my little secret to growing mayapples--make sure they're on the property when you buy them. =)

Ahh... Well. Thanks, mbuckmaster [grins]. Yep, that's my problem. Lack of pre-planning [still big-grinning].

Versatile when established...... Sounds like it!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:52PM
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lisamay(zn5 WI)

Great information here gang... I'm here in WI and want to dig some natives whens the best time.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 2:23AM
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Don't dig natives on public property.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 10:30AM
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I am informed that the best time to transplant is winter but of course you have to mark them very well as there will be no sign of the plant atop then.

Yes it is illegal to dig them or even take flowers from public lands. Or my land unless you are me, lol.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:17AM
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I have them next to a stream, some on a small but steep slope, some near a sidewalk, and some in a low shallow depression that tends to be moist. They seem to handle a bunch of different conditions by me but are usually under trees and near edges. I don't have any in very dry areas.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 4:38PM
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This link suggests that mayapples can tolerate juglone.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 6:45PM
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As an aside, I have a couple of large patches of naturally-occurring mayapple in my woods, and a large bare area under a maple in my front yard that I am introducing woodland plants to. I have successfully moved prairie trillium and several others, haven't tried the mayapple. I see posts above that say they are very deep-rooted. (1)How deep do I need to go to move some? and (2)What are my prospects of just gathering the fruit when ripe and planting seed rather than transplanting mature plants?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:34AM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

We saw a few mayapple plants 4 or 5 years ago, and now we have A LOT of them in many places. (We have been cutting down the grey dogwood that has spread all over our property, so providing more space and light.) The mayapples move themselves well to new locations, so I assume there is some help from birds or animals? In which case I would think going with the seed will be successful.

We have a 50 year old orchard that has been extremely neglected for some time, meaning many other trees and shrubs have grown up all over the place. I am sure that some of the clusters of mayapple are near a large black walnut tree. We also have been finding a lot of trilliums (including a big white one this year) and have a few spreading clusters of false Solomon's seal as well. I started one of those from seed, at least I assume the one that just came up in my official shade garden was from me burying a seed there, I can't recall for sure.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:35AM
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Zaratsay Sian

Plz take care of your native plants some of them are endangered like golden seal.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 3:44PM
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