Seed starting chronicles 2012

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Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Lori - I am trying Ipomaea leptophylla and Silene nigrescens too, both germinating well. I assume you sow under artificial light?
For me both of these are etiolating considerably (although other seedlings are not) and I think I need to give them much higher light intensities, or possibly prolonged daylength?

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Yes, I start most seeds indoors under fluorescent lights - each shelf of the plant stand has two double-light ballasts.  I'll have to check the wattage of the bulbs (can't remember).  Some are stratified in the cold room then brought out to the plant stand for germination, or after they germinate in the cold room. Alpines tend to grow a little looser than they should in my setup, but may tighten up after they are planted outdoors, so I don't see this as a huge problem, usually, though more intense light would certainly always be an improvement.  I think the permanent growing conditions may be more important overall to the plants ending up with the desired small, tight forms that we expect or hope for... ??  (See: http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=317.0 )  We did use very high intensity metal halide lighting at one time (for wintering-over water lilies and tropicals, mainly) but it was pretty unpleasant to be around - I imagine there have probably been improvements to these sorts of set ups now.  Starting them outside here doesn't give any particular advantage (in my opinion) in terms of getting seedlings to a good size prior to planting out, which I like to do as soon as possible. (I don't usually have the patience to take care of seedling pots for extended periods of time.)

NB.  Edited to add details.  This isn't meant to be taken as a recommendation to anyone - it's just a description of how I've been doing things, and needless to say, there is lots of room for improvement to it!!  :o

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

mkyoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-04-11

Lori, thanks for the welcome.  I've grown around 1000 species in the garden here, not to say that all or even most of them are still with me. I'm particularly fond of species from the U.S. Southwest, particularly penstemons. Given the tendency for this part of Montana to have rain and -20 to -30 C nights each winter, many of these plants are grown, unintentionally, as annuals. Or were grown; I subscribe to the notion that after killing a species three times, one can declare victory and move on to others. Thus Chilopsis linearis has two more chances. Lauren Springer profiled a reputedly hardier cultivar in her revised edition of The Undaunted Garden, so I know my next victim.

I started my one-hundred-ninety-third seed dish of the winter last night. These all represent species that prefer, require, or at least tolerate cold stratification. The warm germinators, 75 or so additional species, will get started in late February. My intent is to have most things germinating by 1 March so I can move them to a cold (and still occasionally freezing) greenhouse. But there are always surprises (or my unwillingness to accept their germination patterns despite repeated observation). Lewisia rediviva, Erysimum asperum, and Leptodactylon watsonii, for example, always seem to begin germinating during cold stratification, usually early January after an early December start, and I have to figure out what to do with the germinants before they rot. Starting these outdoors would be a lot easier, but I would miss the entertainment of expending large amounts of energy on configuring some contraption involving artificial lights and a propagation box to keep them growing during the depths of winter.

And it's not like I have room for 250+ species--that may be why so many are no longer here...

zone 4a/5a, Missoula, Montana

Michael
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-12-08

Off to a roaring start this year.  Last summer included Narcissus asturiensis collected from a friend's house.  That is already showing a few grassy leaves emerging from the seedling pot.  The Cyclamen are succulent and the Erythronium have swollen from a 24 hour soak.  I hope to at LEAST see leaves this year. 

Cold chill needed for the Campanulas, Silphium, Liatris, and Prunus.  (Anyone growing P. prostrata?  In the Seed Ex this year, it looked curious, if not lovely for the rock garden.)

The Lilium superbum are in vermiculite at 20C until I see a bit of something happening.  Oy... and then for the 5 or 6 years until flowering.  Rick, I think that scaling is the way to go!

The darn red squirrel came into the house (!) and ate all the Platycodon from last year.  I guess ate is not quite accurate - rather, made to disappear, as I don't know what he did with them afterward.  There was NOTHING!  Including the nothing of the 8 Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana' (the really nice, true one) grown from cutting last winter.  Vanished... into thin air, like he carefully removed them from their quarters, tossed them into his backpack, and off he went.  So much for my protected cold room...

Many more seeds to go. 

Michael
Interlaken, NY Zone 6a (officially now...)

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Sound like a great start to your growing season, too, Michael... other than what the squirrel made off with.  ;D

I grow Prunus prostrata (or at least what was sold as Prunus aff. prostrata) though not particularly well.  It's been in a trough since I got it in 2008 where it has been very slow growing. If I get up the nerve, I may try to move it to a tufa bed and see if it will take on a prostrate form.
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=372.msg6962#msg6962

Anyone else out there growing it?

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Lori wrote:

I grow Prunus prostrata (or at least what was sold as Prunus aff. prostrata) though not particularly well.  It's been in a trough since I got it in 2008 where it has been very slow growing. If I get up the nerve, I may try to move it to a tufa bed and see if it will take on a prostrate form.
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=372.msg6962#msg6962

Anyone else out there growing it?

No, but now you have made me aware of it ;) You say yours is from seed or did you buy a small plant?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Hoy wrote:

Lori wrote:

I grow Prunus prostrata (or at least what was sold as Prunus aff. prostrata) though not particularly well.  It's been in a trough since I got it in 2008 where it has been very slow growing. If I get up the nerve, I may try to move it to a tufa bed and see if it will take on a prostrate form.
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=372.msg6962#msg6962

Anyone else out there growing it?

No, but now you have made me aware of it ;)

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Lori wrote:

Hoy wrote:

No, but now you have made me aware of it ;)

Déjà vu, Trond:
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=372.msg7027#msg7027
No, it's not from seed; I bought it from either Wrightman's or Beaver Creek.

Lori, I knew it! My memory is as long as my tail :-[

But what kind of hieroglyphs have you added here? Déjà vu, Trond:  ??

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Déjà vu is just the French phrase for the feeling that something has been seen before.  :)

A few seedlings:
Gastrolychnis apetala (syn. Silene uralensis ssp. apetala); germination started in 2 days after sowing at room temp, several seedlings after 4 days):

Campanula topaliana; germination started the day after sowing  :o, lots of seedlings after 4 days:

Salvia pachyphylla; germination in 7 days at room temp, though only 2 seedlings:

Arenaria pseudoacantholimon (germinated in 6 days from sowing, room temp conditions):

I'm sure we have all, from time to time, puzzled over the identity of a mystery seedling!  I think it would be useful to post some photos of seedlings as they progress to more-recognizable stages... a modest start towards building up a bit of a reference database, and carrying on from some efforts in last year's seed season.  Any thoughts on this?  

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Lori wrote:

Déjà vu is just the French phrase for the feeling that something has been seen before.  :)

I know that ;) I'm talking about the strange signs jà between the j and the à! and these: following my name!!
They're like squares with a two zeros and a number in (the numbers are 17, 11, 17, 05, 12 and 05). Thought they were some ascii code. Don't yousee them?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

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