Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Growing Capers From Seed



Last week I promised that my next post about capers would be about how I start them from seed. When you read some of the advice available on the web it can seem like a daunting task.

Here's what Purdue University advises:

Caper seeds are miniscule and are slow to nurture into transplantable seedlings. Fresh caper seeds germinate readily - but only in low percentages. Dried seeds become dormant and are notably difficult to germinate and therefore require extra measures to grow. Dried seeds should be initially immersed in warm water (40°C or 105°F ) and then let soak for 1 day. Seeds should be wrapped in a moist cloth, placed in a sealed glass jar and kept in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 months. After refrigeration, soak the seeds again in warm water overnight. Plant the seeds about 1 cm deep in a loose well drained soil media. Young caper plants can be grown in a greenhouse (preferable minimum temperature of 10°C or 50°F).


And here's what the University of California advises:

Germination of caper seeds is difficult, but the following methods have resulted in 40 to 75 percent germination. First, heat some water to 110¡F or 115¡F, and put the seeds into the warm water to soak for at least 12 hours, during which time you can allow the water to cool to room temperature. After 12 hours, discard the water, wrap the seeds in a moist towel, place them in a plastic bag, and keep them in the refrigerator for 65 to 70 days. Then take the seeds out of the refrigerator and soak them in warm water (110-115¡F) overnight. Plant the seed about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a soil mix of 50-25-25 parts of UC soil, perlite and sand, respectively (planting mix can be used instead of UC soil mix). Use 6 inch clay pots or deep flats. Water well and keep in a warm area (70-85¡ F.), in partial to full sun. Do not allow the top of soil to crust over. Keep the soil moist. Germination should start within 3 to 4 weeks and may continue for 2 to 3 months. Not all seeds will germinate at the same time.


So the very first time I tried to germinate some precious seeds that I carted home from Italy I used some form of the refrigerator method and ended up with a little plastic bag of moldy seeds in a paper towel. Bleah.

My next move was to buy a couple of plants mailorder. They got to me with water logged roots and promptly started to wilt, but I rescued them by putting them on a heating mat. They went on to grow and bloom and produce the seeds that allowed me to do a lot of experimenting. Those two plants are still growing strong in a nice big pot.


So, here are the lessons that I've learned from my experiments with all those seeds.

A. Really fresh caper seeds have about a 95% germination rate. The germination rates decline as the seeds get older (duh, true for all seeds), year old seeds still have pretty good rates of 75 to 80%.

B. The seeds, whether fresh or dry need to be chilled (cold stratification) but you don't need to take up precious space in the refrigerator if you live in a Mediterranean climate (like I do). Capers are native to the Mediterranean and the seeds sprout and produce plants in the darnedest places there - most notably stone walls. Winter temperatures provide all the chilling that the seeds need, naturally. Just how much cold the seeds need, or can withstand, I haven't figured out. I also didn't find any difference in using seeds that were soaked in warm water first.

C. Caper seedlings really do not like to have their roots disturbed. One of my first experiments resulted in a pot full of seedlings (yeah!) that I tried to separate and pot up. Lots of root disturbance and lots of mortality (oops!).


So, this is not the definitive guide to growing capers from seed, this is what works for me. If you don't live in a Mediterranean climate, well, this may not necessarily work for you, but perhaps the lessons I've learned can help.

Sow the caper seeds in 6 packs, 1 seed per cell for fresh off the plant seeds, 2 seeds per cell for older seeds (lessons A & C) about 1/4 inch deep. I use regular bagged potting soil, not seed starting mix, although I suppose seed starting mix would be fine also.

Start sowing seeds anytime from September through November (lesson B). Set the sown 6-packs in a shady protected place outside (lesson B again). I like to put them in a black square nursery flat (the ones with the large meshed bottoms) with another flat over the top to keep birds and other critters out. At this point you can almost forget about them until late February or March, just don't let them dry out.

In late February or early March, move the flats to a warmer spot where they will get some sun, not too much, that drying out thing again. The seeds should start to germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. I've even brought some of the packs indoors to my seed starting setup with heat mats and grow lights, which works quite well.

Do not attempt to pot up the seedlings until they have a couple or more true leaves and the roots have developed enough to hold the soil together (lesson C). It can take a couple of months for the seedlings to get large enough. If there are 2 seedlings in a cell you need to cut one of them off at the soil line, don't pull it out (lesson C). When it's easy to pop the plants out of the cells without having the soil crumble too much you can pot the seedlings up into 4-inch pots and grow them on for the rest of the year or longer.

The next winter or spring they can be planted out or potted up into large pots. I've found that pot grown capers bloom best in pots that hold at least 15 gallons of soil. The first flowers may appear as early as year 2. Capers are drought tolerant plants but pot grown plants need regular water and fertilizing. During the hottest months I water my plants almost every day, although their need for water will vary depending on how much sun they get. My pots get full sun almost all day so they dry out quickly. I fertilize almost weekly during the summer, less in the fall, none after October and resume occasional fertilizing in the spring when new growth appears.


Caper plants are partly to fully deciduous, depending on weather and exposure. A hard freeze a couple of years ago knocked all my plants completely down to their crowns but they resprouted beautifully. Don't hard prune the plants until they are at least 2 years old. I've found the best time to prune is in the winter when the plants are dormant. Often times the shoots will die back a couple of inches from the pruning cut if the pruning is done later.


My current experiments involve growing the capers in the ground. So far, I've not had a lot of success. My best plants are the ones that are planted atop a high south-southwest facing retaining wall. Look for a future post (not soon) about my experiments growing capers in the ground.

50 comments:

  1. Perfect timing, of course. I'll put the seeds in the refrigerator and make a note that I should pot them up in October in six-packs. Then, I'll do your whole-year (!) growing thing, and by then the patio should be done, I hope. Into pots they'll go. That patio is the perfect "pretend we live in Italy" place, methinks.

    Fingers crossed, and I'll keep you posted about your handed-on seeds!

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  2. Hi, I live in Cape Town South Africa. I am very interested in growing Capers but it is not very well known here. We have a mild Mediterranean climate so it should do well. Where can I source seeds?

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    1. Also from Stellenbosch! Looking for seed...any yet? Regards

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  3. Anonymous, Capers should grow very well in your climate. Franchi Sementi Seeds produces caper seeds. The US distributor for Franchi is growitalian.com and the UK distributor is seedsofitaly.com. You could contact either one to see if they ship to South Africa.

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  4. wow, cool blog...there isnt too much info out there on internet regarding growing capers and your blogpost is one of the best..i didnt see pictures of the small plants in pots anywhere until your site...thanks

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  5. Anonymous, thanks! You're right, there isn't really a lot of info. A lot of my experience just came from trial and error and common gardening sense. I'm still learning...

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  6. I don't think I would try to grow these as I am not consistent with caring for plants -- anything that requires really specific care will perish with me :( But I do agree that this is a very detailed post about growing capers. And I love the flowers :)

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  7. Thanks very much! I haven't found this much info about growing capers anywhere else.

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  8. I got some caper seed from you last summer. Planted them on 10-13-2010 with no treatment in small 6-packs and left them out in the weather in partial sun (I live in the east bay). I noticed today (4-24-2010) they seem to be germinating near 100%. Thanks again for the seeds and the tip on how to grow them, it was certainly easy, if not quick.

    BTW, I sowed them in 'aquatic potting soil' available at OSH. It's a lightweight gravel-like stuff that is a superb media for plants that like rocky well-drained soil.

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  9. promethean spark, Yeah, you've got baby capers! I'm looking forward to hearing about your first harvest.

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  10. As written, I haven't managed to find a single picture of small caper plants. I was wondering if you might have any pictures of tiny plants? I happened to forget my pot outside and there is this plant that might be a caper.

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  11. Juuh, I'm sorry, I don't have any photos of caper seedlings. If you email me a photo of what you have I might be able to tell you if it is a caper seedling. You'll find my email on my profile page.

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  12. Michelle, I have 15 caper bushes I grew from seed that are now two years old, about 4 feet across, and I am harvesting about 1 quart of capers a week. My "dormant" period here in Texas is January-February and I am wondering how far back to trim my plants during the cold season. One web reference I have found says to cut them all the way back to the ground to make them sprout a bunch of branches next year but I'm afraid to go this radicle. Any ideas on pruning? Thanks.
    ..Michael In Texas

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  13. Michelle, Another question besides the one I asked above about trimming the plants. When do you determine that the seed pods are mature enough to take off the caper plants to remove the seeds inside? Do you wait until they are dry enough to start splitting open on their own or is there a better time to harvest?
    Thanks...
    Michael In Texas

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  14. Michael, Wow, you've done a really fantastic job of raising your caper bushes to have them be that size and produce that much at 2 years of age! I think I could take a few lessons from you. I assume that you have them growing in the ground, did you plant them in raised beds or on mounds?

    My dormant period is nearly the same as yours, late December through early February. I prune the capers in January. I usually cut my plants down to just a few inches above the crown and a couple of winters all the top growth was killed be a freeze. Either way they grow back incredibly vigorously and really do seem to do best with a hard winter pruning. It is best to prune when the plants are fully dormant because if you trim the stems when the plant isn't dormant the stems die back a few inches from the cuts. It's good that you've not pruned them hard yet, I've read that it's best to wait until the plants are 2 years old before you start pruning them hard in the winter.

    For seed saving I wait until the fruits split open, they won't be dry at first but will dry quickly once they split. I scoop out the soft flesh and mash it in some water and then pour the flesh and seeds through a strainer, pushing the flesh through and leaving the seeds behind. You can sow the seeds right away or dry them a few days before you store them. I think that even fresh seeds straight out of the berry need to go through a period of cold stratification before they will germinate, although I've read that they can sprout quickly. I've never gotten around to sowing really freshly harvested seeds, I've always dried them first.

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  15. Michelle, Our Winter weather here in S.E. Texas is crazy and some Winters we have no freezes and last Winter we had a 17 degree freeze that lasted for over a day so I have opted to keep my Caper Bushes in Huge containers that I drag into a greenhouse during Winter. This is great to keep them from freezing but at the same time some never went dormant at all. There is really a lot of mis-information on the Internet about Capers. For one thing they produce much better with a regular feeding and have much darker, healthier leaves in a slightly acidic soil. People think that just because they grow in the alkaline, bone dry Mediteranian soil that, that is the best for them and I have found out otherwise. In containers when it gets over 95F they do best with some protection from really hot afternoon sunlight. Also, when the seedlings came up last year I was totally shocked that they started producing buds when they were only 4 months old. I have to admit that I have been in the nursery business for 38 years and baby my plants but this Caper crop is just for family use and I do not sell them commercially. For fun I also grow in containers Goji Berry Bushes and Tea Bushes from India which are really a variety of Camillia.
    Michael In Texas

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  16. Michael, I agree about the regular feedings, they do appreciate it, although my in-ground plants don't seem to require anywhere near as much as my potbound plants. And my pot bound plants are in a potting soil that has plenty of peat moss in it, so yeah, they don't mind some acidity. It rarely gets anywhere near 95F here, so I can't comment on that. It's actually cool enough around here that my plants seem to thrive in spots where they get a bit of reflected heat from a wall. My latest experiments with growing them in the ground involves using a rock mulch which they seem to appreciate. Buds on 4 months old plants, that is amazing!

    Camellia sinensis, have you cured the leaves and made tea? What do you use the Goji Berries for?

    Oh, and I would guess that you might want to experiment with pruning your capers if they don't actually go completely dormant. As I said before they die back from pruning cuts when they aren't dormant so you might want to try cutting them back less. Although, my plants don't drop all of their leaves most winters and don't react negatively to a hard winter pruning. I think that if they are dormant enough that they have stopped growing that it should be ok to cut them back hard.

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  17. Michelle, The Goji Berry when dried looks like a red raisin and is loaded with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. I am growing my own in an attempt to save some money off the huge prices charged for them on the Internet. Also, I do not trust those who sell the liquid Goji juice. Since it is not regulated one does not really know if they are buying full strenght Goji juice or a hugely watered down version with lots of sugar added. I'd rather grow my own.

    Another curiosity I have learned about the Caper Bush is that if they are propagated from cuttings off a bush that is producing caper buds the cuttings after rooting will continue to make buds as they grow so you can actually be 1-2 years ahead of those grown from seed. I have tried green cuttings, semi-hardwood cuttings and hard wood cuttings in various rooting soils with and without rooting hormones, some under mist and some not, during the heat of Summer and the Winter....and still have not come up with a consistant crop. If the cuttings root it takes 4-6 months and there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the rooting cycle! :)

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  18. I ordered some seeds from one of the sources you suggested in an earlier comment, and now am trying to figure out my next step. I live in Virginia, border of zones 6-7, and we do get a pretty hard freeze here. Wondering if it should still work to sow seeds here in September and then leave outside for the winter. What do you think?

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  19. cleverbean, I'm guessing that for cold stratification purposes that overwintering outdoors will probably be ok. You might want to play it a bit safe by keeping the pots in a spot that will be protected from the worst of the freezes, on a porch or in an unheated shed, or some such place.

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  20. We live in Southern Italy, on the Adriatic coast (about 10 km from the sea). When we bought our home here about 2 years ago, it came with two huge, gorgeous caper bushes, each about 10 ft. in diameter when in full bloom. Our neighbor told us he thought they were about 100 years old, but I'm not sure if I believe that. :) Anyway, we have the best time picking the capers all summer and preserving them (we use the drying in salt for a week, then pickling in half vinegar, half water method), and using them all year on our homemade pizzas and salads. We're about to try to start some new caper bushes, but have heard conflicting things as to how to do this. An Italian friend of ours told us her mother always did it by taking the seed pod and soaking it in water for an unknown number of days before planting. We weren't sure if we should split the pod open first? Also, our pods are all green, but the ones we've seen pictured online were red and had already split open. Which one is correct? Do we need to wait until fall here before we attempt to plant the seeds, and if so, will the seeds be considered "fresh", or older, with the need to plant 2 in each tray? Any advice you've got would be most appreciated.

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  21. Blancafasano, I have always let the caper berries split open before collecting the seeds, you can be sure that the seeds will be fully mature then. I scrape out the pulp and the seeds and wash it, straining it through a fine sieve and pushing the pulp through so that there are only clean seeds left. After that they can be dried and stored. But if you are just going to be planting seeds right away you can skip the washing step and just pick the seeds out of the ripe berry and sow them. You can sow them any time after you collect them, from now through the fall, that would be considered fresh, but they won't germinate until they have been chilled for the required time. I'm not sure exactly how much time that is, but I've found that seeds that I've sown anytime from September through November start to germinate in February or March If they've been kept outside where they can be chilled by winter weather. You can plant one or two seeds per cell, but just remember that the young seedlings have very sensitive roots, if you plant more seeds per cell and then try to pluck them out you will disturb the roots too much and kill the seedlings. I plant 2 seeds per cell just to make sure that there aren't too many gaps in the seed trays.

    I suppose that if you have dried caper berries you would soak them first to make it easier to extract the seeds, but I've never found it necessary with fresh berries. And it is recommended to soak dry seeds before sowing them, but I've not found it to make any difference.

    It sounds like you have some really beautiful plants, lucky you! I would love to see a photo if that's possible. Good luck with your seed starting.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

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  22. Since I wrote to you last, we found out that you can also "pickle" the seed pod, just as you do the capers themselves. So, after hearing that, my husband went out and picked all but a couple seed pods off the bushes to try and pickle them. Unfortunately, this kind of leaves me with slim pickings for seed harvesting, oh well :) The few pods left on the bushes are still green now, but I'm going to let them sit and see if they turn red and split open. I'll follow your instructions, and hopefully come next spring, I'll have some new baby bushes! Oh, and I took some great photos of them, but I'm a bit computer illiterate and couldn't figure out how to upload them to this page so you could see them.

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  23. Hi -

    Love your site and all the wonderful information. Maybe I missed it... but I am searching for a source that sells the seeds or plants in the US. Could you recommend a source?

    Thanks,

    Barb

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  24. Barb, Both growitalian.com and gourmetseed.com offer caper seeds. If you do a search on the Mother Earth News Seed and Plant Finder you will also find other sources for seeds and plants, some extremely pricey. I will also be offering some seeds later this year from my own plants.

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  25. Thank you so much for this information. I live in Lampedusa a very small island off the coast of Italy and have been given the the job of trying to grow capers for a neighbour. They grow wild here but are notoriously difficult to germinate at home. Being that I am a London girl, it all seemed a bit daunting, but I am going to get on with it now. Thank you again.

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  26. Great information. I have some caper plants and let a few of the berries go to seed last year. I found the information and your experiences very helpful. I would like to share an experience I had two years ago....I received two plants from my dad who has grown them successfully for years. One died and I wanted to see if I could multiply the remaining plant by cutting it in pieces and replanting. I waited until the plant was dormant, dug it up and cut it lengthwise into three pieces. It took! Slow at first but all had berries in the first year. Has anyone had any success with air layering?? I've tried and failed. Also, I have one plant that I bought from a nursery as a seedling, about 2 years old and it grows vigorously but produces no fruit, has thorns also...any ideas? Thank you for the information. Duke

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  27. Duke, I've never heard of splitting a caper bush like that, I'm amazed that it worked! Fascinating... And I've not heard of propagating capers by air layering, but I have taken cuttings in the spring and propagated them by dipping the cut ends in a rooting hormone powder, and putting the cuttings in potting soil, enclosing the pots in a clear plastic bags and putting them on heat mats under grow lights. They are kind of finicky about rooting, although I did have a couple of branches root in a glass of water on my windowsill once. I think the key there was that the branches were broken off of the plant with a heel from the stem that they branched off of rather than cutting them through the stem. But I find that it's much easier to start new plants from seed so I haven't propagated from cuttings in years.

    Wild caper bushes are spiny plants (Capparis spinosus) and cultivated plants have been selected for their lack of spines (Capparis spinosus inermis), it sounds like you bought a seedling cultivated from a wild plant. Why it's not producing fruit yet I can't say, but some sources that I've read say that capers often don't bloom until they are more than 2 years old so perhaps your plant needs another year or so.

    Thanks for letting me know about your experiences cultivating capers, it's always interesting to hear about other gardeners experiences with these fascinating plants.

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  28. Hi Michelle. Very best informations about the Capers C. Two years to grows Capers. Now, seven Capers. A lot of reading and watching sites. Your best

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  29. Fantastic, have looked on lots of google pages and found yours. Ready to have a go as soon as the seed pods form on the wild plants in near by mountains in Northern Cyprus. Thanks again for so much brilliant information
    Senny

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  30. I planted seeds I got from Malta and they've come up nicely. At about 5 inches tall, I transplanted to a 15 gallon container. I notice they are not quite as dark green as before. I am using Miracle Grow, but is there something better? Are they acid loving? Oh yeah, I live in Southern California.

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  31. Anonymous, Lately I've been using a granulated turkey poop based fertilizer that I just sprinkle on the surface of the soil in the pots. It seems to be working fine. I used to use a soluble fertilizer called Maxsea that worked well but I got tired of having to do weekly fertilizing. I don't know if you've read any of the preceding comments, Michael in Texas commented last June that he gets darker healthier leaves in slightly acidic soil. The potting soil that I use has peat in it which should also make the soil somewhat acidic.

    So, would you consider swapping some seeds from you plants someday? I have Croatian and Tuscan source plants and hope to get some Spanish source plants to maturity one of these days.

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  32. Can you grow a caper plant from a piece of caper plant? I took some off a wall ( it was growing wild...and I've placed it in water hoping it would sprout?

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  33. Cher, it is possible to grow caper plants from a cutting.That's how commercial growers propagagte their best varieties. It's not as simple as just putting it into some water. You'll have the best chance of success if you put some rooting hormone on the cut end and then put the cutting into a moist porous soiless rooting mix (or a seed starting mix), cover the cutting so that it doesn't dry out (the pros use misters) and give the cutting some bottom heat, and keep it in a well lit place. I've had success starting cuttings in my seed propagation set up with heat meats and grow lights. But..... one time I had a stem get torn off that had "heel" from the branch it tore off of, and that stem rooted from the heel in a glass of water on my window sill. However, it died when I tried to plant it. That leads me to believe that it would be easiest to root stems with heels rather than cut stems using the method I outlined before.

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  34. Hey, so glad to find this blog -- thought I was the only caper-obsessed gardener. I have half a dozen little plants from purchased seedlings doing well here in AZ, but I am probably overwatering them a bit since I just figured out how tough the plants really are.

    On a just-completed trip to Israel, I collected some fresh seed of what looks like a very big, vigorous standard caper. However I also saw a couple other varieties -- one fairly common has brilliant purple stems, and apparently blooms just a few weeks later than the standard (and I have someone waiting to get me fresh seed), and a smaller-leaved type with dark purple-maroonish stems and purplish leaves which is still later to bloom, and which I saw at only one rather isolated location. Hope to get seed from that one, too.

    I can't find anything about different varieties except that many are considered near-endangered due to habitat loss. These guys grow in cracks and sidewalks and spill down rock walls, so not sure its a big risk.

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  35. Michelle,
    Thank you so much for all the work maintaining this website. Its the best one I have seen on growing Capers. I bought 2 plants in 4" pots last year from Peaceful Vally Farm supply but only one made it through the winter. They lost all their leaves but still looked alive so I transplanted to 1 gal. pots. Here I learned my first lesson about not over watering Capers as One plant was just starting to show leaves but died. I want to plant in the ground as I have a south facing concrete Wall and want to put them in drain rock at bottom of wall. To be safe I want to get more plants first. Tried all over the bay area but all the nurseries were sold out, seems a major newspaper wrote an article about them. I found out few growers grow them for the nursery trade and they can range in price from reasonable to outrageous. The one you got your first plants from Ricters in Canada and there is San Marcos growers in Santa Barbara that sells 2-1/2 gal and is wholesale only. The newest grower in the area is Morning Sun Herb nursery in Vaccaville but they are also sold out til next spring. Considering how hard it is to grow from seed and how long it takes I guess I will just have to wait. Of course you don't get the variety of flower color that you have. Charles

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  36. Michelle,
    I am just now interested in growing capers and I am fortunate to have found your website first I think. I am in the Hill Country of Central Texas and was trying to find out if our area with freezes every year, drought, and very hot summers could grow these at all.
    I have never seen a fully grown caper bush. Do you have any pictures to post?
    Janet' in Texas

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  37. Has anyone had experience growing capers in New England? Is it too cold here? I have a caper seed packet from Spain, but had no luck last year starting the seeds in potting soil.

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  38. This is great information. 17 years ago I put most of the pieces of a business plan together to grow capers in my home state of Arizona. You all know what a small bottle costs at the grocery store. I lived and worked in Cyprus and Israel for 3 years. We used to eat them like olives (bigger buds) as well as use them as a garnish/topping for dishes (smaller buds). I loved watching the older Cypriot women walk through the field of caper bushes and fill their aprons.

    I have been experiementing with growing the bush in AZ several times over the last two decades. I now know why I will continue to pay $3/oz for a tiny bottle of them.

    Great work Michelle on contributing your knowledge of this to the public.

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  39. I'm in California, in the S.F. Bay Area -- Can you share a resource where I can order caper plants &/or seeds from?

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  40. Molly, Carman's nursery in Gilroy might have plants. And if you can find a store thar carries Franchi seeds they might have the seeds or buy Franchi seeds from an online seed seller such as Gourmet Seeds or Grow Italian.

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  41. I just got back from Greece and after seeing capers grow like weeds, I am very keen to try and grow them here in the Modesto/ Oakdale, California area. I have found seeds at Lockhart Seeds out of Stockton. Has anyone had any experience with capers in my area? I am so surprised at how little anyone knows about them in my area. Thanks for this site. Even all my gardening books seem to be missing this delicacy.

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  42. Hello Michelle - This is a brilliant website!Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
    Michelle, have you any experinence with growing capers for production? We have a small farm in White River South Africa, about 600ft above sea level.I would like to start farming capers and thought that I might try and grow them on vines - what do you think?
    We have right sandy soil in which we grow lettuces, leeks, spring onions etc. Carrots love our soil!
    Looking forward to your reply
    Erik Howland

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  43. I am experimenting with a caper plant growing in a bottomless pot sunk into the gravel floor of our greenhouse (hot summer, moderate fall and spring, about 40 degrees + sun's heating in the winter. This is in Michigan. It grew and bloomed beautifully this summer and fall. I am hoping it will grow roots down to the center of the earth (or at least down to the subsoil beneath the gravel).

    Can you grow caper plants from cuttings?

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    1. Karla, it sounds like you have ideal greenhouse conditions for growing capers, how wonderful! And yes, you can grow capers from cuttings. Here's an excerpt from Purdue's crop fact sheet about propagating capers from cuttings:

      Stem Cuttings: Collect cuttings in February, March or April. Use stems from the basal portions, greater than 1 cm diameter and 8 cm in length with 6-10 buds. Use a loose well drained media with bottom heat. A dip in a IBA solution of 1.5 to 3.0 ppm is recommended (15 seconds). A 70% rooting percentage would be considered good.

      I've had luck using rooting hormone powder on cuttings taken with a bit of a heel from the stem that the cutting was growing from.

      Good luck!

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  44. Hello all gee this has been interesting reading
    I have a bottle of capers sitting beside me, from Spain. I am in Canada and I read on this blog that Richters in Canada offers caper plants for sale They are not more than 30 miles from where I live.
    So shall make a trip there
    I have been thinking of giving the plant a try for some time. Not here in Canada but I have a home in Fort Myers Florida as well and thought perhaps I might try it down there.

    Really have enjoyed reading through this topic on your blog Thanks

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    1. Hi Diane, It would probably be worth your while to buy a plant from them as it is so much easier than trying to start capers from seed. I imagine they should do just fine in Florida, capers do love the heat, although I don't know how they would react to the mild winters there. I don't know if they need to go dormant or at least semi-dormant to initiate flower formation. It sure seems like it would be worth trying to grow them though.

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  45. Living in South Africa and have just tried a variety of trials with caper seeds using stratification and chemical methods with giberellic. Now 2 weeks later some seedlings are emerging but I have no idea as to whether they are capers or not. If anyone has photos of really young caper seedlings would be much appreciated. Great site...very informative

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    1. Hi, I live in Cape Town and am interested if your seedlings turned out to be Capers and whether you now have some plants. I would like to try and propogate some myself.
      Regards
      Jonathan

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  46. Been to Coastal Croatia, which has a similar climate to Southern Italy, and much of California. Summers can be quite warm and even hot at times, (0-100F), with little summer rain, but the humidity of the Mediteranean Sea influence can be around 30-50%. So capers, would need good drainage. Seems like they can grow in slightly acidic soil. So crushed granite would probably be helpful. Our soil is lousy here in Auburn, California (decomposed shale), but rockroses (cistus) grow like weeds here, so I should be okay.

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