The Mysteries of Mistletoe
Are your Christmas parties a bit dull. Why not spice them up a bit with your own mistletoe.
I have always been fascinated by mistletoe as it is a plant that grows on another plant. It is a partial parasite as it roots into a host plant instead of the ground, but grows like a normal plant producing its own energy with its own leaves.
So how do you get it to grow? First you need a suitable tree, an apple is the best host, but many native trees will do fine, particularly the rose family. Then you need some mistletoe berries. These need to be ripe, which means they must be pure white and translucent like pearls.
If you have some mistletoe at Christmas keep a sprig with a few ripe berries for seeds in a cool shed until January or February. (Berries kept in a warm house for more than a few days will dry out and not grow.) Then squeeze the seeds onto branches of the tree where the bark is quite thin. Branches between a finger and arm thickness are ideal. Put plenty on as some will wash off or be eaten by birds. It is often more successful to put the seeds on the underside of the branch.
A small plant should start to grow, sending roots into the bark of the tree, then a stalk will come out with the familiar mistletoe leaves. It is just like a seed being sown in the ground but the seedling is growing on a tree. It will take a few years before you get any berries.
Traditionally it should be grown on a sacred oak and cut with a golden sickle on the solstice. It should not be allowed to touch the ground and should be burnt on the twelfth night, lest those boys and girls who kissed under it will never marry.
We are getting into the realms of the green man here, so I would just have a go, and think how your Christmas parties will improve with your own mistletoe.
P.S. You can also buy seeds online at www.mistle.co.uk
Don Morgan Morgans Nursery
Stonehouse Lane, Bulkeley, Nr. Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8BQ
Web Site: www.hedgeit.co.uk