Propagating Datura and trumpet vine / Fire ants in New Mexico
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Issue: August 30, 1999

Propagating Datura and trumpet vine

Question:

I moved into a house that has a beautiful Datura and a bush/vine with orange trumpet-shaped flowers. Both have put out seeds, the Datura's look like little pine cones and other plants look like green bananas.

I would like to plant more of these around my house, what is the best way (and time) to propagate them? Will they grow from seed?

Answer:

The datura, if it is datura, should grow well from seed. The datura seed pod is usually covered with spines, kind of like a little round porcupine. If that is what you have, let the pods mature and as they split open , collect the seed and plant them where you wish them to grow. You can also plant them in the garden and transplant them later. If this is the common "Sacred Datura" or "Angel Trumpet" it is also possible to propagate it from pieces of root. Dig some thick pieces of root that are three to four inches long and bury them shallowly where you wish the new plants to grow. This is probably best done in late winter just before the plants begin growth. Keep the root pieces slightly moist as they are beginning to grow. Just be aware that the plant (all parts) is toxic if ingested.

The other plants sounds like a trumpet vine which may also be propagated by root cuttings as described above, by cuttings, and most easily by "layering". To layer the plant, take a long stem, wound it by scratching the bark or slicing through the bark with a knife. Apply rooting hormone powder to the area of the wound, then bury the stem at that point. Use some metal wire or a heavy rock to help hold the vine in place. At this time, the stem which is still attached to the parent plant should begin producing roots at the point of the wound. In a few months it may be separated from the parent plant and transplanted to the site where it is to be grown. It is too late this year to try this, or at least too late to expect to transplant it this fall. You may begin the process and give it until late next spring to develop roots, or begin the process just before growth begins next spring.


Fire ants in New Mexico

Question:

I moved from Texas where fire ants are a problem. I have heard rumors that the fire ants are in New Mexico as well. Is that true?

Answer:

According to Dr. Carol Sutherland, NMSU Extension Service Entomologist, red imported fire ants were collected and identified in 1998 with samples from a residence in Las Cruces. So, yes, they are now in New Mexico. The have subsequently been found in Dona Ana county in residential areas from the northern part of the county to the Texas border.

You are familiar with the problems associated with fire ants, but others who have not experienced them before may find the following information from a news release by Dr. Sutherland interesting.

Dr. Sutherland warns that fire ants can attack in force, many crawling on a victim, often unnoticed, then many begin to sting at the same instant. Each sting produces nickel-sized welts, "each with a pustule. These are painful as well as intensely itchy and were slow to heal." This in itself is not proof of fire ants, but suggests that the possibility should be considered by sending a sample to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Dr. Sutherland said that samples containing a large number of the ants should be taken to your local Cooperative Extension Service office so that they may forward them to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

For more information about fire ants in New Mexico, it is available on the NMSU web site (located at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu).