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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have a 3 acre or so swamp/marsh. It is mostly cat tails and tall grasses with about 12 inches of water at the most but it is wet all year. I want to plant some trees to make the area thicker because it is pretty open and doesn't hold deer. What types of trees would you recommend for ease or planting and fast growth? I'm thinking there has to be some sort of tree cutting I can just stick in the water and it will sprout roots. Also I am unaware of where I can even purchase these types of trees. Thank you for the help
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Where would you recommend buying some of these willows
 

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The location of the area could have some effect on its deer use. Deer can sit pretty tight in an are if it is the most secure cover around, are you sure they are not holding tight in there at times? As far as trees go, have you considered Speckled Alder? It is not technically a tree but it does not mind getting its feet wet. That said, a foot of water is pretty deep for anything to survive over the long term.

Too bad cypress doesn't grow this far north. FM
 

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Sugar Maples love wet areas, although probably won't grow well in 12 inches of standing water all the time. They would do well around the borders of a marsh. They do really well along the banks of the Big Manistee, and Muskegon rivers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No interest in cuttings? If you or someone you know has a nice healthy willow on your property, you can have as many as you need free. Very easy rooting some willows.
Actually my grandfather just gave me a bunch of willow branches and there are more to be had. Filled the bed of my truck. They were cut about a month ago. I am just not sure of the next step to take. I'm thinking just keep them wet until spring frost is hone and stick them in the swamp. I'm just not sure what size branches I should be looking at using.
 

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I have installed a lot of "live stakes" / cuttings on wetland mitigation projects. It is a cheap, easy technique to get some woody plant growth in wet areas.

take the willow branches and cut them into manageable pieces of about 2-3', all the same length, with a flat cut on top. be careful to keep track of which way is "up" on each piece. tie bundles of these together with twine or something; when a bundle is ready, run a stripe of spray paint across the top end of the bundle so you remember which end is which.

keep the bundles in shallow water until some warmer temps get closer. installing now could lead to frost heaving later; that would vary on different soils. a bundle in a 5 gallon bucket with a few inches of water would work fine. keep them in the shade somewhere, a garage or something.

in early Spring you can install them. just before hand, with a good hand pruner or small pair of loppers, cut a fresh end of the bottom of each stake, at a 45 degree angle, just removing a half-inch or so of material; an angled surface has more area to sprout roots and a fresh slice of material will sprout better. keep that end wet until you tap it in where you would like. a "dead-blow" hammer (one filled with sand) works best but any rubber mallet will work.

put about 80% of the stake below ground, and check out how may vegetative buds are above ground - if too many buds are left above the ground line, they could all flush and the resulting leaves will need more water than the newly starting root system will be able to send up. The best way is to have just 2 buds, or pairs of buds, above ground. doing it that way will make a slightly different ideal depth on each stake as they will all vary in length between nodes. the leaf buds can be a little hard to notice at first, but you will find them if you look carefully.

Willow family species are super easy to do this way. Black Willow will become a massive tree that will dominate a wetland; this can be good but a little more than what you probably want; always use only a small portion of Black Willow. the shrub Willow species probably match your goals for the site better.

this technique will work with shrub Dogwood, Button Bush, Elderberry, NineBark, and Cottonwood too, though some of these other species will show a slightly lower survival % than Willow. Elderberry is a little finicky in that if it gets warm at all, it will start to sprout, which it does naturally as one of the earliest of all species. to do Elderberry stakes there is the shortest window of all of these; best to do those in actual Winter, whenever the ground is not frozen, and just procure them and install them all in one day.

live stakes are a great technique, but keep in mind that first word - the branches/cuttings are alive and should be treated as such. don't keep them under water, don't let them dry out / warm up excessively, don't keep them in a black plastic bag, etc. they are not as hardy as a pile of lumber, but they aren't as fragile as a flower either.

as the technique is so simple, experiment with different water depths. there may be a depth where the stake will eventually rot if it can't balance out it's need for actual soil and water. but you can tap them right into soil right through shallow water.

Button Bush can take the deepest water, right along with Willow and Elderberry just a little less than those two. NineBark and Shrub Dogwoods can take water in the spring, but not necessarily all summer long. Silky and Red-Osier Dogwood can probably take a little more water than Grey.



Bald Cypress has been successfully planted in Michigan along the Indiana border, and could probably be moved a little more north from there, but I would only use one grown from seed from the Ohio valley in southern Indiana or Illinois, about as far north as they come naturally. If not careful, one could end up with a seedling sourced much farther south.

Silver Maple will take a whole lot of water, and grows like a rocket too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So should I strip off all of the smaller limbs and just stick the "plug" stick into the ground? Or can I just push the whole 8 ft branch in the ground?
 

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I would trim off the side shoots/twigs/branches, etc. - you could just stick them in the ground too. Use a pruner or cutting blade of most any kind, ripping them by hand could pull strips of bark along with. Length isn't that important, but the more that is in the ground the better; really long ones will be more challenging. Also you need a certain minimum diameter on the top if you need to tap them in with a mallet. More material below ground will more easily support the new vegetation above ground; too m
uch vegetation and the new roots can't keep up if things were to turn dry.

Here is a picture of what an average bundle looks like from a commercial supplier. Larger/longer versions will work and there are variations on technique from what I have described, but the simpler it is, the more area you can cover.





Frost heave works like this - as the soil freezes and thaws, it contracts and expands. Soils with the smallest particles (clay and fine silt) have the least amount of space between the particles and will push the most on other objects when they expand as they thaw. On soils with big particles (sand), this is not a problem as there is more space between each particle. So in some places, live stakes could be put in right now.
 

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I have installed a lot of "live stakes" / cuttings on wetland mitigation projects. It is a cheap, easy technique to get some woody plant growth in wet areas.

take the willow branches and cut them into manageable pieces of about 2-3', all the same length, with a flat cut on top. be careful to keep track of which way is "up" on each piece. tie bundles of these together with twine or something; when a bundle is ready, run a stripe of spray paint across the top end of the bundle so you remember which end is which.

keep the bundles in shallow water until some warmer temps get closer. installing now could lead to frost heaving later; that would vary on different soils. a bundle in a 5 gallon bucket with a few inches of water would work fine. keep them in the shade somewhere, a garage or something.

in early Spring you can install them. just before hand, with a good hand pruner or small pair of loppers, cut a fresh end of the bottom of each stake, at a 45 degree angle, just removing a half-inch or so of material; an angled surface has more area to sprout roots and a fresh slice of material will sprout better. keep that end wet until you tap it in where you would like. a "dead-blow" hammer (one filled with sand) works best but any rubber mallet will work.

put about 80% of the stake below ground, and check out how may vegetative buds are above ground - if too many buds are left above the ground line, they could all flush and the resulting leaves will need more water than the newly starting root system will be able to send up. The best way is to have just 2 buds, or pairs of buds, above ground. doing it that way will make a slightly different ideal depth on each stake as they will all vary in length between nodes. the leaf buds can be a little hard to notice at first, but you will find them if you look carefully.

Willow family species are super easy to do this way. Black Willow will become a massive tree that will dominate a wetland; this can be good but a little more than what you probably want; always use only a small portion of Black Willow. the shrub Willow species probably match your goals for the site better.

this technique will work with shrub Dogwood, Button Bush, Elderberry, NineBark, and Cottonwood too, though some of these other species will show a slightly lower survival % than Willow. Elderberry is a little finicky in that if it gets warm at all, it will start to sprout, which it does naturally as one of the earliest of all species. to do Elderberry stakes there is the shortest window of all of these; best to do those in actual Winter, whenever the ground is not frozen, and just procure them and install them all in one day.

live stakes are a great technique, but keep in mind that first word - the branches/cuttings are alive and should be treated as such. don't keep them under water, don't let them dry out / warm up excessively, don't keep them in a black plastic bag, etc. they are not as hardy as a pile of lumber, but they aren't as fragile as a flower either.

as the technique is so simple, experiment with different water depths. there may be a depth where the stake will eventually rot if it can't balance out it's need for actual soil and water. but you can tap them right into soil right through shallow water.

Button Bush can take the deepest water, right along with Willow and Elderberry just a little less than those two. NineBark and Shrub Dogwoods can take water in the spring, but not necessarily all summer long. Silky and Red-Osier Dogwood can probably take a little more water than Grey.



Bald Cypress has been successfully planted in Michigan along the Indiana border, and could probably be moved a little more north from there, but I would only use one grown from seed from the Ohio valley in southern Indiana or Illinois, about as far north as they come naturally. If not careful, one could end up with a seedling sourced much farther south.

Silver Maple will take a whole lot of water, and grows like a rocket too.

A couple years ago I bought button bush seedlings from MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation). Except for browsing, that I can or should try to prevent, they have done well.

I want to establish them to many more areas of the pretty wet areas of my property, which is pretty much the whole center. At .32 per seedling (MDC price per 100) does it make sense for me to try to propagate in our small greenhouse or small hoop houses.

A secondary question; I've been told that by propagating plants like Button Bush and cattails, that those areas automatically become wetlands and that I lose control of what I can do to those areas.

Thanks for any help.
 

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Sorry, can't help you with specifics of wetland laws. I am usually just "labor" on wetland projects.

Sometimes, official wetland delineation is done by # of days soil is saturated across a year. This can be done with a shallow 'monitoring well' that has a little electronic data recorder gizmo in it.

I think other times, only certified professionals can delineate official wetland boundaries. And I expect wetland law will be in flux right now, particularly at the Federal level.

Plant species in wet areas are all classified in a system of how common they are in wet or dry soil -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wetland_indicator_status

I do not know how that may be used with wetland law.

Button Bush will grow in a lot of standing water for a lot of time each year, far more than most other woody species.


I would experiment with just cutting off a few of the stems you already have and sticking pieces of them in the ground in other spots where you want some Button Bush. I haven't worked with those stakes as much as other species, and I don't think they are as fool-proof with this technique as Willow, but it does work.

I have never worked with Button Bush seed. I would consult the "Woody Plant Seed Manual" (published online by USDA USFS) for specific tips on collecting and germinating the seed. Some people enjoy growing wildlife plants for their property as a side hobby.
 

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I was thinking about this thread today in that an excellent 'wetland' tree for about the southern half of the lower Peninsula is Black Gum. It sets a small berry, in pairs usually I believe, that is consumed by many wildlife, including Black Bear I think. It might not take quite as much water (in depth and total time) as Willow or Alder, but could grow right close to the edges of those areas.

Planting some would not return a crop for perhaps 2 decades out, most likely, unlike a shrub project. But the old saying is "The best time to plant a tree is ... yesterday."
 

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Sorry, can't help you with specifics of wetland laws. I am usually just "labor" on wetland projects.

Sometimes, official wetland delineation is done by # of days soil is saturated across a year. This can be done with a shallow 'monitoring well' that has a little electronic data recorder gizmo in it.

I think other times, only certified professionals can delineate official wetland boundaries. And I expect wetland law will be in flux right now, particularly at the Federal level.

Plant species in wet areas are all classified in a system of how common they are in wet or dry soil -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wetland_indicator_status

I do not know how that may be used with wetland law.

Button Bush will grow in a lot of standing water for a lot of time each year, far more than most other woody species.


I would experiment with just cutting off a few of the stems you already have and sticking pieces of them in the ground in other spots where you want some Button Bush. I haven't worked with those stakes as much as other species, and I don't think they are as fool-proof with this technique as Willow, but it does work.

I have never worked with Button Bush seed. I would consult the "Woody Plant Seed Manual" (published online by USDA USFS) for specific tips on collecting and germinating the seed. Some people enjoy growing wildlife plants for their property as a side hobby.
Thanks, Ill check my small Buttonbush and see if cutting can be taken. We're doing about 3,000 lavender cutting right now and I thought about sneaking a few bushes into the greenhouse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well checked the swamp tonight and there's ice on top of the whole thing. Would the cuttings be ok in my basement sitting in a bucket of water until spring when it thaws out?
 
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