CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices

to Support Species Survival in the Wild

Maintaining space between gallon pots increases air flow at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden nursery. Photo by Joyce Maschinski

Key Messages for Growing Rare Plants in Containers
  • Proper sanitation, soil, and containers can assure successful propagation.
  • Realize that conservation collections may need to be maintained for decades, therefore labels may need to be maintained legibly and replaced if necessary.
  • Keep cultivation records so that all personnel caring for the species across time will be able to understand cultivation needs quickly and efficiently.

Follow sanitation practice to keep plants as healthy as possible.

Keep propagation surfaces and containers clean.

  • Disinfect with a 10% bleach solution.

Choose best soil for the target species.

  • Media should have texture and drainage components needed by the target species. For example, a species that has been collected from dry forest will require well drained soils, while a species collected from a wetland will require soils that retain moisture. Example of soil media: 25% commercial potting soil, 25% composted bark, 25% sand, 25% perlite.
  • Pasteurizing the soil can eliminate pathogens. Optimal media should be disease and pest free.
  • Understand the moisture holding capacity of the media and note that this may change across seasons and as the plants grow larger.
  • Add beneficial microbes from native natural soil (Haskins and Pence 2012), but beware that natural soil with beneficial microbes may also have pathogens.

Choose the best container for current and future growth.

  • Maintaining rapidly growing species or species that achieve great heights will require special root care.
  • Techniques for preventing root knotting or circling roots in containers are: Hercules Gro Pro Root Master Pot™, root pruning pots, are options
  • Deep tubular pots encourage deep rooting.

Provide optimal water for the target species in conjunction with the soil used in the container.

  • Understand the preferred or commonly experienced water received in the wild
  • Watering frequency will most likely change across seasons.

Maintain permanent labels to track maternal lineage of individuals.

  • Realize that conservation collections may need to be maintained for decades, therefore labels may need to be maintained legibly and replaced if necessary.
  • See CPC Best Practices Section, “Maintaining a Conservation  Collection.”

Document your cultivation practices

  • Keep cultivation records as a part of institutional memory so that all personnel caring for the species across time will be able to understand cultivation needs quickly and efficiently. (See Example of Propagation Information.)

Example of Propagation Information

Family Scientific Name:

Pinaceae

Family Common Name:

Pine family

Scientific Name:

Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poiret

Common Name:

Fraser fir

General Distribution:

A. fraseri is found at 1500 m elevation in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Propagation Goal:

Plants

Propagation Method:

Seed

Product Type:

Container (plug)

Time To Grow:
0
Propagule Processing:

Seeds exhibit physiological dormancy.

Germination:

Seeds are stratified for 112 days and germinated under 30D/20N °C alternating temperature cycle. Germination was greater under light than dark.

Propagation:

Place seeds in moist peat moss or moist sand for 1-3 months at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, a process known as cold stratification. Once the seeds begin to germinate transplant to soil and allow to grow. Avoid placing seeds under a mist system, as the constant moisture on the soil is a breeding ground for disease and insects.

Cultivation:

Place seedlings in a greenhouse and water as needed. Partial shade is preferred for first year. Excessive heat and sunlight may damage them in the first year. After the first year, place into acidic, well-drained, sandy loam soil. Fraser Fir doesn’t tolerate heat very well and is adapted to high elevation with cold winters and high snowfall. (https://sites.google.com/site/fraserfirseedpropagation/)

Other Comments:

A. fraseri has conservation concern status.

References:

Franklin, J. F. (1974). Abies Mill. Fir. Pp. 168-183. In: C. S. Schopmeyer (Tech. Coord.). Seeds of woody plants in the United States. USDA. Forest Service. Agriculture Handbook No. 450.

Baskin, C.J. and Baskin, J.M. Seeds: Ecology , Biogeography and Evolution in Dormancy and Germination, Academic Press, 1998. Chapter 10: A Geographical Perspective on Germination Ecology: Temperate and Arctic Zones, pages 331- 458.

Hercules Gro Pro Root Master Pot™
Tree pots