Monday, June 20, 2011

a veritable mess of madder

When I was back home in Phoenix the other weekend, I took my morning cup of coffee out to the garden to see how things are doing. I had a shock to my not-yet-caffeinated system to see this mess of madder!

Back in spring 2009, I'd planted a whole array of natural dye seeds, and a single madder plant was all that made it to maturity. That first year it was touch and go. Last year, it filled out the entire whiskey barrel. Now it's greenery is completely covering two barrels -- outgrowing the mint, even! -- and a few flower pots to boot.

I couldn't even penetrate the plant enough to get a photo of the reddish roots, but they must be doing well. The flowers are out, though, tiny and greenish. Maybe I can collect some seeds this year so that I have some new plants started when I harvest this one next summer.

And here's what the whorls of scratchy leaves look like. Just fifteen minutes of dealing with this plant scraped me up twice as much as the whole weekend of rock climbing! Does anyone know if you can propagate madder from cuttings, by the way? Can I cut stems and root them in water? Or do I need to layer the stems under soil without cutting?


FoFo said...

It really has taken over hasn't it. I'm afraid I don't know having never raised this plant before. If it grows from seeds, put a white sheet around it and let the seeds fall into the sheet and then you can harvest them from there. I have a few plants that I do that with and it works well. If you want to do it from a cutting, I would think if you take a cutting with a little of the root on it and put it in some water with some root starter it might grow more roots, not sure though.

knitsandpots said...

I am thinking that if you take a cutting, dip the base in rooting hormone, and place in a loose soil you would have the best result in propagating the madder.
It's worth a try! It sure seems to thrive in the dry heat...

Turtle said...

i like the white sheet idea. I have also always used the rooting powder way of rooting. Things in water seem to rot before they root for me. Would be an interesting experiment!