February 2, 2013

1 - Indian paintbrush plants are difficult to transplant, to grow from seed, and are semi-parasitic plants.

2 - Pruning piñon trees is possible, but different from pruning deciduous trees.

Yard and Garden February 2, 2013

Q. #1

I have tried to grow Indian paintbrush plants several times. Each time I dug some plants from my property in the mountains near Las Vegas and tried to transplant them to my landscape in Albuquerque. It never worked. Did I damage the roots too much when I dug the plants? I tried to get all the weeds out of the soil and much of the soil fell away exposing the roots.


A. #1

The Indian paintbrush plant is in the same family as snapdragons, but is much more difficult to grow. It is difficult to transplant from the wild and difficult to grow from seeds. However, you may have best success by collecting plants after flowering and as the plants and seeds are drying. In the late summer or fall, spread these drying plants in the area where you want the Indian paintbrush plants to grow. For gardeners who do not have their own property from which to collect plants, remember that you must have a permit from the landowner or agency responsible for the land before collecting plants.

The easiest way to establish Indian paintbrush plants is to buy started container-grown plants from a nursery. Nurseries specializing in native plants may have such plants. Choose the plant with grass growing in the container with the Indian paintbrush. This is because the Indian paintbrush plant is a partial parasite and can parasitize and draw nutrients from bunch grass plants. When you removed the “weeds” you probably took away the plants that they were parasitizing, but since they are difficult to transplant from the wild, it probably did not matter. When you plant the seeds (from the drying plants) it is best if there are some bunch grasses or other plants in the area from which they can draw nutrients. They may be slow to develop, so be patient and try frequently.

Q. #2

Can pinon trees be trimmed?

-Judy O.

Cibola Co.

A. #2

Pinon trees can be pruned, but not in the same manner as deciduous trees. You must leave some active growing points (needles and buds) when you prune, or prune a branch completely away. It rarely regrows from dormant/inactive buds in “brown” wood. Pruning to leave the branch collar should be done in the manner as for other pruning, but the necessity for leaving some growing points or complete removal of branches is critical.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

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