I lived for a while in Herefordshire, land of cider makers and apple orchards.
It is also full of mistletoe and no-one in their right mind would buy a little sprig for good money to kiss under at this time of year. No, we would gather a whole, glorious ball of the stuff on it’s branch and give it pride place, like a living chandelier.
How to grow your own mistletoe
‘Although mistletoe is spread naturally by birds, it is possible to grow it yourself;
- Harvest berries from a tree in March or April. Make sure you choose a tree that is similar to the type of tree in your own garden that you wish to establish the mistletoe on.
- Discard any crushed berries and do not use berries from sprigs used as Christmas decorations. These will not germinate as they are generally harvested when immature.
- Choose a branch 10cm (4in) or more in girth on a tree that is 15-years-old or more. Ideally this should be fairly high up, so the developing plant receives plenty of light.
- Make a shallow cut to create a flap in the bark.
- Remove the seeds from the fleshy berries and insert them under the bark flap.
- Finish by covering the flap with hessian to protect the seeds from birds.
- To ensure greater success, sow quite a few seeds under each flap of bark as only one in ten seeds germinate, and both male and female plants are needed for berries to form.
The branch will swell as the mistletoe develops, but don’t expect quick results; plants can take five years or more to reach berrying size.’
All very straight forward then – see you in spring for a seed collecting expedition to the country