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Messages - Ted B

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After putting my mature-sized plants into ground for their first winter here in Birmingham, Alabama, USA (Zone 7b/8a), I am pleased to report that I am seeing signs of new growth from the base. I placed a generous heap of oak/hickory leaf mulch around the bases of the plants before the first hard freeze. From my notes, the plants did not defoliate until the overnight temperature dropped below 27F (-3C). We had a couple of nights down to 10F (-12C). This answers my question concerning survivability of mature plants in an open situation, however, it does not answer the question as to if the plants will ever have sufficient energy to fruit if they must grow new stems every season instead of resprouting on older wood. If the older stems prove to be dead wood (won't know for a month or two), I'm afraid these may never be productive unless kept as a container plant and overwintered indoors just about anywhere cooler than maybe Zones 9-10.

This is one of those species that shouldn't be so difficult to find given its popularity, but it is. I have two plants (H. indicus) growing well. I may be able to root cuttings.

Absolutely, I'll keep participants in this discussion informed. My two hybrids I grew from seed, therefore being genetically different (capable of cross pollinating and fruiting), so I will try to root an equal number each (#1 and #2) so I can offer them in pairs.

Ah yes, I see that now. This is one of several new ethnobotanical species I contributed to the Dave's Garden website.

Now that I see there is some interest in this plant, I will make a serious effort to clone each of my two commercial hybrids and will provide updates. One thing about rarities is it's never a good thing to be the only one growing them.

And until now, I was so sure I was the only one in the state that had K. coccinea. I'll have to scratch that taxon off my "I'm surely the only one..." list.  ;)

My problem is similar - too many and too large. The ones in the ground (wild type) are well established, having been there since June, and will soon get a heavy mulching. We'll see what happens.

As for my container plants (hybrids), the mainstems are too large not to attempt rooting (see photo) when I cut them to bring them inside. My success rate in rooting various Schisandra spp. is close to 100%, so I'm thinking there is a good chance of success, especially since K. coccinea apparently remains evergreen in tropical climates, which implies that unlike most Schisandra spp., the time of year may not be a factor in propagating via cuttings.

From Monograph of Kadsura (Schisandraceae), Richard M.K. Saunders; Systemic Botany Monographs, Vol 54 (June, 1998):
"Species of Kadsura are generally described as monoecious, although they often superficially appear to be dioecious. The only study of the sexuality of the genus was conducted by Okada (1971), who found separate monoecious and dioecious plants of K. japonica in natural populations in Japan. This would appear to be similar to the results reported for the related species Schisandra chinensis, which, although monoecious, has the capability to change sex expression over several years of growth (Ueda 1988). Sex expression is known to be flexible in many plants (Schlessman 1988) and to be affected by various hormonal and environmental factors (Meagher, 1988, and references therein)."

I hope that helps to clarify any confusion. This publication is downloadable on the web (free) in pdf format, as is Saunders' monograph for Schisandra.

My wild type plants are in the ground (second photo). Two flowers appeared last season - no fruit. Flowers are unisex, and these flowers were almost certainly staminate. My two hybrids are in containers and are growing well into the canopy of a Japanese maple. I will cut these before bringing them in for the winter. What I will do is root the cuttings over the winter, and make those available to buy in the spring. The seeds of the hybrids are distinctly larger than those of the wild type, as are the fruit. I was only able to obtain a few hybrid seeds because I was acquainted with someone in the trade in Taiwan who sadly, is no longer with us. I have two strong hybrid plants (first photo) and a dozen or so wild type. The only reliable horticultural information I've found I've had to translate from Chinese, but K. coccinea is not difficult to grow. I've had zero losses. I have three strong K. heteroclita plants as well, which produce a greenish fruit, and I have a good hunch that quite a few of the "K. coccinea" seeds that get sold through the web are in fact K. heteroclita.

I have been growing Kadsura coccinea and Kadsura heteroclita in Alabama, USA for several years. K. coccinea seeds I've seen on the web are the wild type. I have these, as well as a commercial hybrid that produces much larger fruit. My plants have been container grown and overwintered indoors to this point, but I have some planted outdoors for their first winter test this season (Zone 7b/8a). The first flowers appeared in 2021 (see image). My plants have been situated in a location that receives only direct morning sun. 

I grow six different species of Schisandra as well, and reports of this genus being dioecious are incorrect, which I suspect may apply to Kadsura as well. Saunders clarified this in his monograph on the Schisandra genus (2000). While plants may appear dioecious, only plants large enough and with sufficient energy produce female inflorescence, but those will have male flowers too. They are only sparingly self-fertile (wild types anyway), which is a factor. 

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