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Re: Heuchera Division

Well, Kitty, I tried it in sort of a half-baked way - had taken some
leaves to scan with long petioles and put them in vials of water. 
One stayed fresh for almost a whole year and put out a few roots, but
no new growth ever happened.  Of course, I just left it in water and
did not pot it up and eventually it shriveled and died. 

Subsequently, I read posts saying the petioles would root, but would
not initiate leaf growth (this a report from a nurserywoman who sat
in on propagation sessions from Heronswood and at a National Trade
Show).  A response to that post said to have patience because if
roots form it shows there is "differentiable meristematic tissue
there.  Leaves may just take a long time to form."
 - and then a post from Paul Henjum, a nurseryman whose opinion I
respect, who said you need to pull the leaf off the crown and use
rooting hormone and they will root in 4 weeks.  A third person said
you have to take a heel cutting - which is what Paul must have been
referring to when he said 'pull'  the leaf stem  - so you get a part
of the crown with it...and this 3rd person said they were slow, but
it would work...also recommended rooting hormone.

Sooooo, my take is that they will, indeed, root from leaf cuttings
but you need to use the hormone; take a heel and wait.

As for division - mine tend to fall apart often - what you get is
this bit of thickened crown area, which will initiate roots,
especially in early spring before much new growth has happened. 
That's the part that seems to rise up above ground - like a thick
stem...the part where the old leaf petioles were.  When a clump gets
that way, I dig it up and replant it deeper and in the process,
usually end up with one or two bits that fell or came off and I pot
them up buried up to the leaves - have been known to simply stick
them in the ground next to the mother clump, too and had them grow on
as long as it's early spring and they aren't allowed to get dry.

I don't know about splitting a crown and having it grow on - never
tried that one.  Might do; who knows?  

What I find with over grown plants, is a group of crowns (your
peripheral portions - like fat stems, sorta like the rhizomes on
Geranium macrorrhizum) loosely connected below ground by a thickened,
woody black bit that you can keep or discard or all the crowns fall
off of, depending on the state of the plant.

I find all Heuchera need to be either replanted deeper or divided
about every 3rd year and some want it every year or they sort of
dwindle away - some are worse than others about this.  I have also
found the genus to be prone attack by black vine weevil larvae, which
you don't find out until you go out to discover what was, yesterday,
a lovely clump, is to day a wilted pile of foliage.   If you catch
such a plant soon enough, there's usually enough left to pot up and
it will root - so you don't lose the plant entirely, but it sure as
heck sets it right back to day one.

As I have been growing several forms for a few years now, I'm also
finding that some last longer and are more robust in my climate than

Martha Oliver (Primrose Path Nursery) once told me that some of the
clones that are bred from west coast or Asian stock just don't stand
our heat and humidity or our cold winters well and this seems to be
true.  They are basically using east coast natives in their breeding
program.  Only problem with some of their forms - for me - is that
they need more sun and really prefer a faster draining - more gritty
- soil than I can offer them...those don't do well for me,
either....I've lost a few of them:-(

Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride', which is a marvelous plant, hates
me.  I have now killed 3 of them, from different sources, planted in
different locations, and have another hanging on by a thread.  They
seem to get some disease or other and just melt away.  Oddly enough,
Heuchera villosa purpurea does better than most for me ...this one
looks good all the time; has great staying power and makes a lovely
big clump...go figure.

IMO, Heuchera are not carefree plants, but they are such lovely
additions to the garden that it's well worth the effort involved in
finding ones that will grow well in what you have to offer and in
mucking about with those who need frequent resetting.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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All Suite101.com garden topics :
> From: kmrsy@comcast.net
> At Suite 101, Marge wrote:
> "Propagation is by seed or division in early spring (preferably) or
fall (in 
> warmer climates) and - so I've read - leaf cuttings...Leaf
cuttings, taken in 
> late fall, consist of the entire leaf plus a short segment of the
petiole (leaf 
> stalk). I haven't tried this method, but it sounds interesting."
> Marge - have you tried the leaf cuttings yet?
> I've experienced the same problem others have had of some Heuceras
> their crowns up.  I recently read that they should be dug and reset
every few 
> years.  But I wondered about dividing them; didn't seem to be
easily done.  At 
> an OSU site I read, "division of plant crowns should occur once
every three 
> years, with the woody central portions discarded and the younger
> shoots replanted with their crowns well-covered in soil and mulch".
> sitting here at my desk, I don't recall periferal portions. 
Perhaps I'm just 
> overlooking the obvious.  Would it be possible to just slice
through the crown 
> so each section (that might have a new shoot) also gets a part of
the roots to 
> go with it?  Hmmmm, and then there's leaf cuttings.......anyone
tried that?
> Kitty

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