Winter vacations wouldn’t be the same without the mistletoe plant, which complements the seasonal decor and inspires kissing. You have probably seen this evergreen plant often with numerous small white berries. It is considered a parasitic plant as it grows on other plants and prefers certain species. Today we are going to tell you how to grow a mistletoe plant on your own and what conditions this interesting miracle of nature needs.
Mistletoe Plant Information
Mistletoe is an evergreen semi-parasitic shrub. In the process of development, the mistletoe turns into a dense spherical bush with diameters of about one and a half meters. The mistletoe foliage is beautiful, leathery, colored dark green. True, it does not bloom too brightly. Mistletoe flowers are yellow-green.
Back in 1920, scientists decided on an interesting experiment. They found an apple tree, on the branches of which several mistletoe bushes were comfortably settled, and cleaned its branches. After a certain time, the apple tree died, as did the mistletoe. From this experiment, it became absolutely clear that mistletoe is an exclusively parasitic plant that can offer nothing to its owner in return.
When Mistletoe Berries Appear?
Usually, berries appear on the shrub from October to May.
What Color Are Mistletoe Berries?
Small berries are most often white, less often pink or red.
How Does Mistletoe Grow?
Thanks to the developed root system, which penetrates deep under the donor’s bark, many suckers are formed. Stems, sometimes reaching 100-120 cm, have a forked-branched, segmented structure, and they are fragile at the nodes. The woody branches of the mistletoe form a spherical shape, which gives the plant an unusual decorative appearance.
What Kind of Tree Does Mistletoe Grow On?
As we pointed out above, mistletoe prefers not all tree species. The main host plants are hawthorn, poplar, linden, and apple. Plums, maples, rowan trees, and willows may also work. We could say that most shrubs and trees of the rose family are suitable for growing mistletoe.
How to Grow Mistletoe?
Most often, mistletoe multiplies due to birds: eating the fruits of the mistletoe, birds fly from one tree to another and secrete seeds with excrement on the trunk and branches of trees. It also happens that the berry sticks to the beak. And the bird, trying to peel the berry off, rubs its beak on the wood of a tree.
You can deliberately “sow” mistletoe seeds to try to grow plants, but there are some rules to follow.
In theory, you can use seeds from mistletoe branches that have been left in your home since Christmas. But this might not be a good idea. If mistletoe was stored for too long, the seeds could dry out and become unviable. And if the seeds were harvested too early, they might not ripen properly. So, for best results, choose berries from fresh mistletoe bushes.
Carefully squeeze the seeds out of the berries. They may come out enclosed in a ball of sticky, jelly-like viscin. Try to remove as much of this jelly-like substance as possible as this would help the seeds germinate better.
Now is the time to choose the right tree. Select branches about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter and gently push the mistletoe seeds into the cracks on the underside of the branches. We recommend that you choose branches that are low enough so that it would be more convenient for you to collect the mistletoe in the future.
Please note that of all the seeds that you plant, only a small part of them can germinate. The point is that some seeds can be eaten by birds and others fall off, so the more seeds you sow, the better your chances of success.
How to Grow Mistletoe Indoors?
Remove seeds from berries in the same way we described above. Sow the seeds into a potting mix with plenty of peat, then spray well to keep the soil moist. Now cover the container with a plastic lid or plastic wrap and place it in a well-lit area with a temperature of at least 16 °C (60 °F). The seeds may take several months to germinate. As soon as several leaves appear on the seedlings, you can safely transplant them to the host tree. To do this, make an incision in the bark of the tree, place the seedlings there and attach some damp moss to improve stability. To preserve mistletoe, spray regularly until the seedlings are fully established.
Mistletoe would thrive as long as its owner is healthy and able to provide it with all the nutrients it needs. You need to be especially careful about the condition of the host tree, as it is more likely to get hurt.
Mistletoe prefers a lot of direct and bright light. If you grow them outdoors, they should be high enough to get the right amount of light. However, they can tolerate partial shade. Indoors, they need to be placed in a place where they сould receive enough light, for example, near a south window.
Your host tree may be depleted over time, as mistletoe steals life energy from it. To help the tree, feed it regularly. Choose the fertilizer that works best for your host tree and apply it in the spring.
Inspect your plants from time to time and look for common patterns to understand their basic needs. Mistletoe plants take up a lot of water from their hosts, so provide plenty of water to keep the mistletoe alive. When the soil feels slightly dry to the touch, feel free to water the tree.
How to Get Mistletoe Out of Trees?
A mistletoe is not an insect that can be destroyed by several sessions of spraying with insecticides or acaricides. Here everything is much more complicated. Pruning and removing the mistletoe bush from the tree would get you nowhere. That is, for a while, the evergreen spherical plant, of course, may disappear from your life. But after two or three months it can appear again. The mistletoe continues to live on the tree even in the absence of any external signs. The only thing that can save a tree is sanitary pruning. But in this case, it all depends on how deep the infection and damage to the tree are.
If the percentage of affected parts of the tree does not exceed 30%, you can try to remove the diseased branches. In this case, experts recommend cutting diseased branches at the root in the place of their fork. If during removal, you suddenly find that the mistletoe roots have spread even further, you have to remove it to a healthy place. It is important to maintain the symmetrical shape of the crown. Otherwise, the tree would begin to experience different loads due to atmospheric phenomena (for example, rain or wind).
If all branches of the tree are affected, but the trunk is completely healthy, then eliminate all branches. After removing the crown, the tree would be able to recover after some time.
If the tree is completely affected (both trunk and branches), then this plant has to be removed from the site. There is no other way. Do not wait for the moment when the plant completely turns into an emergency. Sooner or later, it may dry out anyway.
The white mistletoe plant is surrounded by many legends. Druids endowed the berries with a divine origin. The ancient Celts believed that this plant helps to find the place where the treasure is buried. The drink with mistletoe made the warrior invulnerable to enemies. The most sacred was the rite, which was carried out under the full moon, on the day of the winter or summer solstice. A druid in white robes cut a branch of mistletoe with a sickle made of solid gold. Thus, the rebirth of a new life was symbolized. It was also believed that it protects from evil spirits and witchcraft. Until now, on Christmas Eve, many people hang wonderful twigs to attract good luck to the house.
Is Mistletoe Poisonous?
Mistletoe is a poisonous plant that, if used improperly or eaten raw, can cause severe toxicity. Experts do not recommend taking mistletoe extracts for people suffering from low blood pressure, as well as for pregnant and lactating women. If you have children, make sure that they cannot reach the plant on their own.
Mistletoe is an essential part of the Christmas vacation due to its vast history and good looks. It is quite easy to care for it because all you have to do is pay attention to the needs of the host trees. Remember the plant is poisonous and use caution. But if you still decide to grow this interesting plant at home or in the yard, then the holiday atmosphere is guaranteed to you!
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