The Q&A Archives: Reproduction of Santolina virens

Question: We have about a dozen Santolina viren plants that have been in the flower beds for about four to five years and now they are starting to look very ragged due to the winter and winds. We wiould like to restart some of the plants and would like some advice on the best way to propagate. The plants have never started from seed in all the years that we have had them. Also, is it advisable to cut these plants back? If so, in the fall or spring?

Answer: Santolina, or Lavender cotton, tend to become unattractive if not cut back after flowering. To keep them neat and compact, cut the plants back to 4" - 6" above the ground after they've finished flowering. (Or before they flower if you don't mind not having blooms appear.) You can take cuttings in the late summer or autumn to propagate the plants, or save seed and start them indoors or directly outdoors in early spring. You've probably not been successful in starting seeds because they have a pre-chill requirement before they'll germinate. If you want to start seeds, harvest them when they're ripe, and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Then, about 10 weeks before you plan to set your transplants out in the garden, pre-chill the seeds by mixing them together with moistened seed starting mix, sealing in a plastic bag, and placing in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Remove, sow seeds 1/8 inch deep in moistened seed starting mix in trays or pots, and keep at 65F - 70F degrees. The seeds should sprout in 15-20 days.

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