Question: Hello Friends,
I have 2 trees that I would like to propagate. One is an Weeping Atlas Cedar and the other is an Contorted Filbert. I have had both trees in my landscape for 15 years plus. The filbert does drop nuts in the fall, but when I crack them open they are empty. The cedar has just developed a beautiful cone (first ever). I shall be looking forward to hearing from you.

Answer: There are two ways to propagate an Atlas cedar. The easiest is by seed. Collect the cones in winter and keep them in a warm room until they open. Sow seeds immediately in a cold frame. One report says that a short cold stratification of one month improves germination rates. Keep the seed pot moist, but be careful because the young seedlings are very prone to damping off. To avoid this disease, keep them well ventilated. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Give them some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors.

Cuttings of terminal shoots can be tried in a cold frame in November but they are very difficult.

Your contorted filbert will be more difficult to propagate. You might try tip cuttings taken in May and June and treated with a rooting hormone. The resulting saplings may or not have that contorted growth habit. Or you can try air layering. The best way to do this (again in the spring) is to wound a smallish (1/4 to 1/2 inch) branch by cutting into it about one-third deep, holding the wound open with a toothpick, wrapping the wound with moistened spaghnum moss and wrapping the whole thing with black plastic. Be sure to seal it well on both ends (it should look like a wrapped tamale when you're finished). The wounded area should produce roots by the end of the summer. At that point you can sever it from the parent plant and plant it in its own pot. Keep it containerized for a year or two until it develops a healthy root system. At that time it can be planted in the ground.

Best wishes with your propagating projects!

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