January 21, 2010

How to make a Euryops pectinatus Standard

Last Saturdays fine weather kept me in the greenhouse for most of the day, and it wasn't difficult to find chores to be done, most of the pleasant. On the rear wall sill above the foundation, sat a tall lanky Eryops pectinatus, a rather common South African daisy, often grown as a summer pot plant for its golden yellow daisy's and silver foliage. Euryops = from the Greek "eurys" = large and "ops" = eye referring to the showy flowers. pectinatus = from the Latin meaning pectinate (i.e. with narrow divisions like a comb referring to the divided leaves).Euryops grow woody with age, looking in Californian gardens, more like an aged sage shrub rather than a daisy. As I said in my previous post, I am generally, lazy, and find myself wasting money on new plants each year for no reason, which is silly, since I have a greenhouse. Euryops cost me about $8.00 per plant, which is nothing more than a rooted cutting in a two inch pot. For a plant which roots easily, I decided to bring last years plant into the cold greenhouse, and then take a few cuttings, which I did last weekend.
A little damaged from frost, the plant still gave up about 9 cuttings, which I dipped in rooting hormone, and placed in soil on a heated bench to root. I will most likely repot these cuttings in a month, and pinch them back after taking another set of cuttings later this winter. By spring, I may have a flat of 30 or so cuttings, which will allow me to plant a hedge or something more impressive than a single pot. I was left with the mother plant, which I was going to toss into the compost pile, until I noticed that if I trimmed the plant, I could have a standard topiary with little effort. Eryops make terrific standards - plants trained to a single staked stem, then allowed to branch out at the top. Euryops can be trimmed, but carefully, one has to be careful to leave enough growth for flower buds to form, since they form only on the newest growth, terminally. Even though I have trimmed this specimen harshly, by May, it should branch out beautifully, and by summer, I expect it to be perfectly gorgeous.

SO first, I need to find a large clay pot.

I was surprised at how tight the rootball had become. Clearly, this plant needs a much larger pot, so I decided to save the plant, and pot it in a significant pot, for if one is going to commit to growing a South African Daisy, I might as well go all the way, and let is have it's full root run, which is deserves.

The first task was snipping the root mass, to stimulate new root growth. This may seem severe, but it is less invasive than tearing the root ball open, which could damage the root connections to the stem, and could crush the tender roots disabling them.

When I placed the root ball into the fresh soil and pot, I realized that the angle needed to be changed, since I had trimmed the multiple stems down to a single stem, which was growing off at an angle. It was easier to simply tilt the root ball rather than to tie and restake the stem.

Once the rootball was properly positioned in the pot, I filled the gaps with soil, and placed a new bamboo stake close to the stem. The only thing left, was to tie the stem to the stake with strands of damp raffia, which protects the stem from possible damage which often occurs with wire, or rope.

Straightened out.

It's difficult to see in this photo, since the topiary behind this is blending in, but if you look carefully, you can see the Euryops in the foreground. It has no leaves, but in a few months, this should look completely different, and it will look awesome on our bluestone terrace as a specimen plant, blooming all summer.

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