Chances are, you've heard of mistletoe before. But what is it, really? Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that grows on the branches of trees, using the tree for support. The word “mistletoe” actually comes from two Anglo-Saxon words: “mistel”, which means dung, and “tan”, which means twig or stick. So, “mistletoe” literally means “dung-on-a-stick”! Ever thought about growing your own mistletoe though? Today we'll show you how to grow mistletoe in your own garden, so keep reading to find out how!
Where Does Mistletoe Grow?
Mistletoe is usually found in shady, woodland areas and prefers to grow on deciduous trees like hawthorns, maples, cherries, and oaks. It has leathery evergreen leaves and produces small, white berries. The berries are poisonous to humans but are a favorite food of birds like robins, thrushes, and waxwings. In fact, the scientific name for mistletoe is Viscum album, which comes from the Latin word for bird droppings!
The History of Mistletoe
Mistletoe has been associated with winter holidays like Christmas for centuries. In ancient times, it was considered a sacred plant with magical powers. The Celts believed that mistletoe had the power to cure diseases and bring good luck. And in Norse mythology, mistletoe was considered a symbol of peace. If two enemies met under a tree with mistletoe growing on it, they would lay down their weapons and declare a truce until the next day.
How Mistletoe Gets Its Starts
Mistletoe starts out as a seed that's deposited on a tree branch by a bird. The seed then germinates and sends out a root that penetrates the bark of the tree and taps into the tree's water supply. Meanwhile, above ground, the mistletoe plant starts to grow leaves and produce flowers—but it never develops roots of its own. This means that mistletoes are dependent on their host trees for water and nutrients.
Over time, a mistletoe plant can become so heavy that it actually starts to damage its host tree by breaking branches or even causing the entire tree to topple over! That's why many people consider mistletoes to be nuisance plants that should be removed from trees. However, some people believe that mistletoes add character to a tree and actually increase its value!
How to Grow Mistletoe
Choose a tree. The first step in growing mistletoe is to choose a tree that you would like to grow it on. Mistletoe can be grown on almost any type of tree, but some trees are better suited for this purpose than others. Deciduous trees are typically the best type of tree to grow mistletoe on since they lose their leaves in the winter, which makes it easier to see the mistletoe.
Prepare the tree. Once you have selected a tree, you will need to prepare it for planting. Start by clearing away any dead leaves or branches from around the base of the tree. Then, using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut in the bark of the tree. The cut should be about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Make sure that the cut is not too deep, as this could damage the tree.
Plant the mistletoe. Now that you have prepared the tree, you are ready to plant the mistletoe. To do this, simply take a piece of mistletoe that is about 6 inches long and insert it into the cut that you made in the bark of the tree. Once the mistletoe is in place, water it well so that it can take root.
Growing mistletoe is a relatively easy process that just about anyone can do. By following the steps outlined above, you can have your own mistletoe plant in no time! Now that you know how to grow mistletoe, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!