How the caper propagates
The caper (Capparis spinosa L., 1753) is a small branched shrub or suffrutice with a prostrate-drooping habit, native to the Eurasian region and widespread throughout the Mediterranean and in central-southern Italy both cultivated and spontaneous.
The buds, called capers, and more rarely the fruits, known as cucunci, are consumed from the caper plant. Both are preserved in oil, vinegar or salt.
As for the multiplication and reproduction methods of the caper, it should be remembered that the plant rests during the cold months and then, in the middle of spring, resumes its vegetative activity and blooms in the months of May and June. The flowering period lasts during the summer in favorable humidity conditions and in late summer it resumes intensity to gradually decrease as autumn arrives.
The reproduction of the caper can take place both by seed and by cutting of twigs to be rooted in a sandy substratum. Germination is slow.
In traditional cultivation when the seedlings are sufficiently developed they are placed between the cracks in the dry stone walls or on the ground between the stones, in a sunny and sheltered place from the winds. Also remember that adult plants are very resistant and require an autumn pruning of old and dry branches.
It is also underlined that, despite being a rupicolous plant, the caper benefits from cultivation in the open ground and moderately irrigated, it has a more luxuriant development, producing flowers from May to October. For the details of the cultivation technique, refer to the following sheet.
Propagation by seed –
Propagation by seed takes place by sowing in boxes, filled with peat and sand in equal parts, and left outdoors in the summer and sheltered in autumn-winter. In the following spring the new plant can be transplanted directly into the ground or individually in a pot. Sowing, as mentioned, can also take place directly in the cracks of dry stone walls well exposed to the sun in autumn. However, it is necessary to insert the pressed seeds in a handful of moss which will protect the seed during the winter and keep it moist; another solution is to insert seeds into a ripe fig, or into a lump of pressed mud, then inserting everything into the crack in the wall. The seedlings will be born around May-June.
It should be noted that propagation by seed is difficult since the germination of seeds is good only if the seeds are sown immediately after harvesting from the fruits (cucunci), while it is very difficult (with a germination index of 5 – 10%) when they enter in dormancy (i.e. they dry out); preparation with seeds in hot water and then soaking for a few days increases germinability. The possibility of germination also increases if sowing is carried out in the winter months (December – January).
Propagation by cuttings –
When propagating by cuttings, this must be prepared in the summer. The cuttings are obtained by taking a piece of about 7-10 cm of a woody branch of 2-3 years of age, after which it is placed in a box filled with peat and sand.
To promote rooting, the use of rooting hormones is recommended. Once the cuttings emit the roots, which can be seen with the emission of new shoots, the young seedlings are taken and placed individually in jars of about 10 cm in diameter.