Mistletoe isn’t just for Christmas

mistletoeI have just come across a great website; Mistletoe Pages.

If, like me, you love mistletoe you’ll love this website too. It has lots of facts about mistletoe including the fact that the mistletoe we are all familiar with is just one of hundreds of species worldwide. All are plant parasites, meaning that they grow as parasites on the branches of trees and shrubs. In Britain, most mistletoe grows on apple trees but it can also be found on poplars and willows.

For me Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Mistletoe but it would also be ideal for an early Spring wedding or as an unusual and romantic Valentines Day Gift!

How can I grow my own Mistletoe?

The first stage of Mistletoe germination is for the seed to adhere to the surface of the host, once this has happened the seedling begins to penetrate the host tissue.

  1. The first thing to note is what not to do. Don’t cut flaps in a host tree and hide the seeds underneath, this is totally unnecessary. The important thing is that the host bark is healthy and that there is plenty of light
  2. The second thing to note is that a lot of berries are needed to ensure success
  3. Thirdly, time it right. There is better success in February and March
  4. Finally, be patient. It will take some time to get a good sized plant; it will grow very slowly in the first four years but once it is established growth will speed up.
  5. Remember that each plant will be either male or female so you will need at least two plants in order to produce berries

Begin growing your own.

  1. Get some berries, either online from www.mistle.co.uk. Alternatively harvest berries from someone else’s plant in February, if this isn’t possible you can use your Christmas Mistletoe but keep the berries fresh by detaching them and leaving them in a shed until mid February then rehydrate them in a little water before sowing
  2. In mid February take your berries and squeeze out each single seed along with some “juice”
  3. Once you have your sticky seeds you need to choose your host tree. Apple is the best followed by poplars, limes, false acacia or hawthorn. Choose a young branch between 2 and 6cm in diameter
  4. Stick some of the seeds onto the branch and label them so you don’t forget where you planted the seed
  5. Plant at least twenty seeds on four or five branches
  6. The seeds should have germinated by March or April but not all will have survived having been eaten by the birds. They will be tiny, green and look like small shoots. Even after a year they will be tiny so don’t forget where you put them or you could loose track of them
  7. In year three you should begin to see proper leaves and will begin to grow more rapidly. Each year the number of branches on each plant will double