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Propagation

Cistus and halimiums are best propagated from cuttings. Seed, unless collected in the wild, will not usually breed true. This is because most species are self-incompatible (one individual’s flowers require pollen from a different individual to produce fertile seed). In the wild this presents no problem, although hybrids do commonly appear, but in cultivation an isolated plant or even a group propagated commercially from the same stock plant will often not be capable of self-pollination and therefore any fertile seed produced must have arisen from pollination by a different species or hybrid grown nearby. Seed from seed exchanges will usually produce hybrids and the name on the packet should never be applied to resulting seedlings without expert confirmation. See Reproduction & Fire for advice on germinating seed.

In the U.K. cuttings are best taken in October or November (February or March also if suitable material is available). Use non-flowering side-shoots, 6-15cm long according to cultivar, with 5 or 6 pairs of leaves, from below the last season’s inflorescences. Gently pull off the lowest two pairs of leaves (do not cut them off) and trim with a sharp knife just below the lowest node.

I find a compost of 50% lime-free grit-sand, 45% sieved peat and 5% vermiculite gives good results. Dip the cuttings in hormone rooting powder and insert them around the edge of a small pot (an 8cm square pot will hold 4 to 8 cuttings, depending on the size of leaves). Enclose in a propagator or plastic bag until they will no longer wilt, then give some ventilation. Be sure to remove yellowing leaves before they can become infected with moulds.

Pot rooted cuttings individually in soil-based compost with extra grit-sand added. Stand the pots outdoors in a shaded position from May onwards and plant in the permanent position (see Cultivation page) in late summer. Young plants will generally withstand hard winters better than older ones.