As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been experimenting with caper bushes for a few years. My best results so far have been with growing them in pots. There's one of the best looking shown above growing in an 18-inch diameter terra cotta pot. Below is a photo of my very first plants, purchased mail order from Richters Herbs at least 7 or 8 years ago. There are 2 plants in that pot. My first successful experiments at growing capers from seed were done with seeds from these plants. Since then I have grown plants from seeds from Tuscany and Croatia as well.
The plant above wasn't trimmed back this winter so it is rather funky looking. The next photos are of plants that I trimmed back and moved into larger (18-inch) pots this past winter. These are plants grown from the Tuscan seeds, as is the plant in the first photo. There is a fair amount of variation in the Tuscan source plants.
The next plant is one of my more successful attempts at growing capers in the ground. It is growing atop the wall that retains the slope below the house. The wall is south-southwest facing. These bushes are a different strain of caper (Croatian), being more prostrate than the plants shown growing in the pots.
Here's a newly opened flower. Caper blossoms open in the late afternoon or early evening and only last a day or two. They have a fragrance that reminds me of the scent used in Johnson's Baby Powder.
Here's another shot of the plants atop the wall. These were planted 2 years ago from 4-inch pots. I hope that they will cascade down the wall someday.
And over here is one of my less successful attempts at growing a bush in the ground. This one has been in this spot for almost 2 years, transplanted from a gallon pot. It has shrunk, but I haven't given up yet.
The collage shown below is of my most recent attempt at putting plants in the ground. These were planted on the slope below the vegetable garden last fall. What a mess, one is definitely dead, trampled by the foraging deer. Another one looks completely dead except for the hint of a shoot coming up from the crown. The rest were doing ok until they dried out in a heat wave last month but now they look like they may be coming back. Well, I'm not going to take them out, but I am going to plant rosemary on that slope too. May the strongest plants win!
Here's a couple of plants in smaller pots that I did not get around to moving into larger pots this winter. It's interesting how they will grow to a size that the pot can accomodate and then stop. Capers don't really like having their roots disturbed so I prefer to transplant my most valuable plants (to me) when they are dormant. Although I have found that I can pot up from 4-inch or gallon pots at any time. Pot grown capers need regular watering and food to look good and produce flowers. When the weather is hot I water the plants almost every day and feed them once a week with a water soluble fertilizer through the summer and early fall. I stop feeding them around October to allow them to harden off and go dormant for the winter.
In the same area there is a volunteer coming up through a crack in the wall!
The deer did nibble at the plant shown above while they were looking for tastier treats such as the Boston ivy that is growing on the nearby wall...
It's time to start spraying the ivy with Liquid Fence. The stuff really works and since we don't get summer rains to wash it off, I only have to reapply if the plants put out significant new growth.
Now here's the ultimate goal... Caper buds ready to be picked and preserved in salt.