Lars Lund

08 Sep 2020 14:33

How to get mistletoes in the garden

The mistletoe is surrounded by mystery and romance. Its genus name is Viscum - the same name as a special birdlime that is still used in Southern Europe to catch thrushes and other small birds.

The mistletoes are poisonous, but far from as poisonous as it has a reputation for. Both cattle and game eat the plant with great pleasure. But extracts from the plant can, in very large doses, injected into the blood vessels cause paralysis of the heart.

The toxicity of mistletoes also depends on the season and the host tree. Most toxic is the mistletoe, which grows on maple, lime, walnut, poplar and robinia, while it is least toxic on apple and oak trees, and the toxicity is greatest in winter and in July. Conversely, the plant is used in medicine as a remedy for high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and menopausal problems.


Easier than you think

Many people dream of having a mistletoe in the garden. Several have tried without success, but perseverance pays off. If you have tried without success, try again. Mistletoes in the garden are something special and your guests will immediately notice them.

You can easily buy a branch from a supermarket and it is the white berries you will need. You can also buy berries that are bulging so they are about to burst. Do not buy berries that have shrunk. Take a berry and press it against a branch. One may be tempted to choose a fork in a branch hoping that the berry will then remain on the branch, but since the bark there is often thickest, the seed may have difficulty penetrating the bark. Therefore, it is better to choose a straight branch. Choose either a very young tree, or a shoot that is of more recent date. Here you have the greatest luck. The bark should be dry, so you should try it on a day when it is not raining or there is a prospect of rain. When you squeeze the berry on the branch, you will find that it almost sticks, and you will also feel like you have glue on your fingers. If you do not feel it, then the berry is not good.

Male and female plants

Feel free to put many berries in different places. The seeds can be either male or female plants and you need to have luck with getting both berries on your plants. Now it's time to keep an eye on your berry. One day in April, a very thin and very short growth will suddenly appear. It's a sign that your mission seems to be succeeding. The little seed is now trying to penetrate the bark and suck nourishment from here. This is what is called parasitism. It almost always succeeds, and the following year you will see the first leaf. Now the process is underway, and you can just wait with longing and joy year after year. Six years after your mission, the first berries will arrive. So, there is time to kiss each other.

Om Lars Lund

Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.  

Get to know Lars Lund