Saturday, January 5, 2019

Hawaiian Ti

Seems like I'm perpetually looking for edible shade tolerant plants. By accident I discovered that ti meets that requirement. 

Ti is a tropical plant. Until I moved here, I only saw it in floral shops. And didn't have the foggiest idea what it really was. Now I have ti growing on my farm, much of it in my shady locations. 

Above, a ti plant with berries. 

Above, a close up look at ti berries. Each contains several seeds. 

What eats ti? My sheep adore it. The donkey and goats also eat it, but the sheep think it's manna from heaven. I have it growing in a couple places where the sheep are allowed to graze for short periods of time. That way they don't eat the tops completely off. Although the sheep eat all the leaves, the plant recovers. 

A nice thing about ti, besides it being apparently tasty, is that it is easy to propagate. There are a number of ways to propagate seed, air layering, stem cuttings. Stem cuttings root fastest if the younger stem sections are used, but the older woodier stems will also put out roots. 

Stem cuttings can be pre-rooted in water prior to planting in soil. I've done this in the past with both tip cuttings and woody stem cuttings. I'll put them into a vase or jar with water and change the water frequently, at least twice a week. This helps prevent rotting. Once the roots start to form, in a couple weeks, I'll then plant the cutting outdoors. 

Above, ti cuttings 

My go-to method nowadays is to Just cut off the top of the stalk, deleaf it, and stick it into the ground. Then if kept moist by watering every few days, it readily roots. I could chop the stalk into smaller pieces are root each one, but I find that takes longer to grow. The smaller the piece, the slower it grows into an edible plant. So I use a piece of stalk 12"-15" long, stick it into the ground. Within one grazing cycle it two, I'll have a plant that can sacrifice a few leaves to the sheep. 

Above, ti cuttings trimmed and ready for planting. 

Ti comes in a variety of colors and styles, but they are edible to the sheep. So I can have a bit of fun planting colorful arrangements of ti plants. The green plants grow the fastest, but the other colors are more attractive to look at. So I'm growing both. 

I'm constantly begging cuttings or scavenging trimmings from friends and strangers. This coming year I plan to grow a lot more ti in my shady spots

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