Silverberries Stumps!

thams

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I went the other day to collect some groundcover from a neighbor for our landscaping and spotted some stumps she planned to have ripped out. It turns out they're silverberries that have been growing for nearly 30 years. She wants them gone now, so I'm being forced to dig them up at a less than ideal time. They're all 12" plus nebari stumps, so they're worth collecting even if only half of them survive. I collected three yesterday to get a feel for how difficult they will be to collect (about 10 in total). Turns out they're not too difficult to dig up, but there are few feeder roots since they've been growing in crappy GA red clay. I also don't have any bonsai soil or pumice on hand since I wasn't planning on repotting or collecting anything until spring. So I'm have to use potting soil instead.

Any tips or advice for survival? Would planting in the ground for a year or two be a better idea versus planting them in pots now? This is good material (to me at least), so I want to do all I can to help them make it.

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Leo in N E Illinois

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I'd stick the next 7 in the ground. A spot with at least a half day up to a full day sun. These are Elaeagnus, and classed as invasive weeds most states. Don't baby them. They may sprout this autumn, or sit dormant all winter, and wait to sprout in spring. The timing is not really good, so sticking them in the ground is not expending money for potting media or on making boxes or finding pots.

The potting soil is not the best, but not the worst. Be careful to not over water.

Let us know how they are in spring.
They are a worth while project. I love the smell of silverberry blossoms. Depending on which species you have, blooms will be either in spring, or autumn. They make nice bonsai.
 

JudyB

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That is quite a find, the ground sounds like a good idea if you have room like Leo said, unless your soil is all clay.
 

thams

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That is quite a find, the ground sounds like a good idea if you have room like Leo said, unless your soil is all clay.
Ugh, unfortunately GA is [in]famously known for it's awful red clay. I truly awful for plants and makes collecting a huge pain. Since I'm relatively new to the house I haven't had the time (or money) to develop a nice raised bed for collecting. I would wait until spring, but the homeowner is planning to have them ripped up now if I don't take them. I'm looking into a cold frame now. That might be the best bet if I can heel them in plus give them a little cover. I have my fingers crossed for a short mild winter this year.
 

BrianBay9

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My experience with them has been the same as Leo's - hard to kill, sprouts from nothing, roots recover fast. I find them attractive and with a great desire to survive! Admirable traits for bonsai. Yours are killer. Have fun.
 

thams

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Just a little update to document the collection of these guys. I'm happy to say that all 14 silverberries I collected in October survived the winter and are putting on a good bit of grow since we've warmed up a bit here. I think the mild winter mixed with heeling in all the pots really helped with their recovery. New buds popping everywhere and nice elongation of existing branches. I need to get to wiring before all the grow hardens off, but I don't want to impede recovery by messing with them too much. I see a lot of carving in my future...

Has anyone tried making interesting root cuttings from Silverberries? I've read here that it can be done easily, but I haven't seen any examples.

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sorce

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You should totally make the second one a dragon!

Sorce
 

thams

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You should totally make the second one a dragon!

Sorce
I'm hoping to do something really cool with that one. I'm waiting for all the buds to pop to see which parts are dead. I'm really hoping I get some good bud placement at the top. Time will tell!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I love these all. Each one can be a good project. One caution, if you use inorganic fertilizers, go light. I am not sure I correctly connected cause and effect, but I lost one I collected in Michigan after a round of a fairly concentrated fertilizer. The Elaeagnus can, and do have an association with nitrogen fixing bacteria, so they get nodules. My conjecture is that if you hit a tree with a high does of nitrogen, it can cause nodules to die back, and other parts of the root system can be collateral damage.

But I could be wrong in this conjecture. The same tree also suffered a couple "drought episodes" and the terminal decline could be drought related. Not sure which was causal to the demise of this stump.

I'm going to dig a couple more maybe next week.
 

thams

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@Leo in N E Illinois I appreciate the tips! This is my first go with silverberries, and there isn't a ton of information out there about them. Since they're sitting in heavy soil I plan to go light on the fertilizer - especially as they establish themselves. Once they've filled their pots with roots I plan to do a root reduction and cut back to set the structure. I'll also get them in good soil at that time. I know they tend to grow fast, so I hope it's only a year or two before I can start some solid work on them.
 
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