Propagating Plants



Valley oak acorns in fall

Planting & Transplanting You can plant acorns November through March, but ideally in November. To plant in the ground, dig a hole deeper than you need, refilling the hole with loosened soil to make it easier for roots to spread. Place the acorn on its side and cover with ½ – 1 inch of soil. Or, in a container of potting mix, place acorn on its side and cover with ½ – 1 inch of soil.
Transplant seedlings December through February, in damp but not frozen ground. Dig a hole deeper than your container, loosening the soil. Make sure the potting mix remains clinging to the roots, and that the top of the potting mix is exactly level with the ground.

Oak seedling

Oak seedling

Protect Them Your seedlings are vulnerable. To guard them from hungry predators, try cages, closed on the top. In a 2 – 3 feet radius around the seedling, remove all weeds. Also, put down mulch so invading plants won’t take up all the available nutrients and moisture your tree needs to grow. Be sure to water, if necessary. Tend and guard your seedlings for at least 2 years. Does that seem like forever? If you can’t commit for that long, find someone who can, until the seedling is strong enough to fend for itself.
Adapted from:
California Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana)
This plant was used by the Pomo Indians for medicines and ritual practices. Mugwort grows up to 6 feet high and smells a bit like sage. Mugwort plants grow in close clumps resembling a shrub. The easiest way to propagate this plant is by dividing the roots or by separating the rooted rhizomes and transplanting them.
Pacific Rush (Juncus effusus)
Rushes grow close to the water in thick clumps suggestive of wire-thick grass. Like Mugwort, the Pacific Rush can be propagated by dividing mature plants or by transplanting rhizomes.


California buckeye seeds

Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
Collect buckeye seeds in the fall, but use gloves, since the tree and seeds are toxic. Remove the fruit and drop seeds into a bucket of water to soak overnight, then drain. Saturate a mixture of 3 parts potting soil and 1 part sand, then drain half an hour.
Plant one seed (per container) leaving half the seed exposed and the pale part of the seed under soil. Cover with a fine layer of soil. Water infrequently, soaking as you did when planting the seeds. Buckeyes will germinate in about 3 weeks. Transplant in spring, spacing 20 feet or more apart. Tend buckeyes as you would oak seedlings, using cages with wire tops.
Adapted from:


Yellow Willow (Salix lutea)


Red Willow (Salix laevigata)

Willows “sprig” from cuttings. On Colgan Creek, red and yellow willow trees are wanted. Between October and December, choose straight branches between ¾ inch to 1 ½ inches in diameter. Cut to the main stem or to a bud which will later sprout. Cut at an angle and trim the top for a 3-foot cutting length (shorter will work also). Place angled cut 2 ½ feet into the ground, burying 2/3 of the cutting. Buds should point up.
Adapted from Groundwork, by Liza Prunuske