Saturday, March 22, 2008

Callicarpa japonica dichotoma

Last Fall when I took my first Plants class, we spent the last class in a group dissecting plants.

My group got this Callicarpa japonica dichotoma (Japanese Purple Beautyberry). After we tore the entire thing apart -- roots and all -- we were just going to leave it. That was when I had my Charlie Brown's Christmas moment and I just had to take it home to nurture it.

Matt calls it the dead twig plant. I told him it's just dormant cause it knows it's winter, but honestly I have no idea what I'm doing or if this plant could survive. I just knew it had a better chance here than in the Arboretum's garbage.Side Note: In another class, a nursury owner was teaching us about trees and he commented how he prefers women over men when gardening because we're more meticulous and careful. But what's our downfall? We want to save everything! Especially the weaklings which should be discarded ... Alright, this is totally me. Here I am saving this plant from class, as well as saving every tiny hosta and coralbell babies I find in my walkway. I can't help it. If it wants to die on it's own, fine, but I won't be responsible!
Now it's four months later, and my Callicarpa is still in my laundry room. I took a look at it today and I found -- amongst some crackly twigs -- green buds (see above circled green buds!). So maybe it's not dead after all. I don't know much about this plant so I'm not sure if it should be pruned, or if I should plant it as is in April. But that's the plan...

It's new home will be where we took down the apple tree out front -- without that tree, it's a full sun area now. Everytime I plant a plant, I imagine it singing the song from Annie "I think I'm gonna like it here."

Let's hope he does.


Benjamin Vogt said...

I must be a woman, because I have the same issues--being unable to toss out plants. Of course, part of my deal is I won't toss out plants I bought and that no longer work, or plant sI just shouldn't have bought. My mother, actually, would rip them out, but I might prefer to dig them in on the edge of the empty lot next door.

Annie in Austin said...

I've saved many a loser myself but as time goes on I've gotten more ruthless and less sentimental.

Rosemarie, we grow the native Callicarpa which blooms on new wood and can be cut back quite severely in early spring. I think the Japanese variety is usually treated the same way, but your little plant sounds so fragile you might want to just plant it and leave it alone for awhile, not trimming back any dead sticks until the live parts are growing strongly. Down here the mockingbirds love the purple berries.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Karen said...

It is hard tossing out any plant. It has to be show no signs of life for a while for me to toss.