Seed-starting chronicles 2011

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RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Sown on 14 July 2010, these are just over a year old:

         Echinocereus viridiflorus and Echinocereus triglochidiatus
             

    Echinocereus reichenbachii: ssp. perbellus, ssp. rigidissima, ssp. baileyi
             

They all look about the same at this point...
             

One month from sowing last year, this is what they looked like;
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=501.msg5305#msg5305

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Fermi
Fermi's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-03

Rick,
it just shows what patience we need in raising such things from seed.
Here is a slight experiment I tried with some seed form a SRGC Forum friend in NZ: Muscari pulchellum and Scilla italica. I sowed half of each pot with seed at about 1cm deep and the other half just under the gravel topping.

It appears that the seed have germinated at about the same time but the buried seed have left the seed caps under the soil!
cheers
fermi

Fermi de Sousa,
Central Victoria, Australia
Min: -7C, Max: +40C

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Fermi, good side-by-side experiment.  With Alliums, I struggle to find the right seed sowing depth, because some of the large-headed Melanocrommyum types when planted too shallow, invariably come up with the seed caps still on top, with the seedlings sometimes topping over and exposing the barely developed radical, so I agree it is better to sow some seed types a little more deeply to force the seed caps to shed upon emergence.  In the long run, both methods work well enough, but one must also consider the possibility of burying seed too deeply with insufficient light to stimulate germination.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Well, as I'm back to work with an even crazier schedule with extra long commutes and regional traveling, the idea of sowing seed "in situ" returns to the forefront as a most viable technique for those of us who have no time to coddle seedlings in pots.  Some things I started in pots from last year's sowing, have already "fried" in the heat and even just a few hours of drought, as they suffer unattended.  Not the case with seedlings sown directly in the ground.

In this view, here are 2-year seedlings of Helleborus niger that were direct sown, and 1-year seedlings of an Arisaema species.  The intent is to use the direct sowing method to bring seedlings along for a year or two, then transplant established small plants... but counter to best intentions, sometimes these seedling scenarios mature into more permanent overcrowded mixes.

As sown as Arisaema seed is ripe in the late fall, I sow directly in the garden.  The jagged edge seedlings of A. sikokianum are easy to recognize and don't need labeling.  When I sow the seed, I spread the seed out a little bit.

Now, I'm forever at war with chipmunks, and rarely do they do anything considered beneficial in the garden.  One hallmark of their annoying activities, is packing their cheeks full of seed of any particular seed variety (often this or that species of tree, or some dastardly weed), then burying their seed caches into tight "plugs".  In spring there appear small circular "bursts" of seedlings... always a single species, sometimes including bursts of hundreds of seedlings of Dicentra spectabilis (from my neighbors yard across the street).  Fortunately, these are easy to weed out.  But lo and behold, this year I found a tight circle of seedlings of Arisaema sikokianum, certainly from chipmunk sowing, the seed not spread out as I would have done.


Arisaema heterophyllum
, from direct sowing, already showing additional leaflets.  The form I grow can reach 6' (2 m) tall.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Fermi wrote:

It appears that the seed have germinated at about the same time but the buried seed have left the seed caps under the soil!
cheers
fermi

And it seems, in this case, that the deep planted ones are doing better...

McDonough wrote:

The jagged edge seedlings of A. sikokianum are easy to recognize and don't need labeling.

So when does the jaggedness disappear?  the mature A. sikokianum I have seen have entire leaflets.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Fermi
Fermi's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-03

Rick,
I have to agree that the "deep" sown ones have sprouted a bit more generously than the shallow sown ones. I'll have to wait a bit longer to evaluate what success rate I get with each.

Mark,
I'm thinking that I'll have to try a few in ground sowings but mainly of things that don't transplant well for me - like astragalus! A problem we have here is predation by earth mites which keep down the number of self sown seedlings of autumn/winter/early spring germinators! germianting them in pots off the ground is one way to stop the mites apparently!
cheers
fermi

Fermi de Sousa,
Central Victoria, Australia
Min: -7C, Max: +40C

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

RickR wrote:

McDonough wrote:

The jagged edge seedlings of A. sikokianum are easy to recognize and don't need labeling.

So when does the jaggedness disappear?  the mature A. sikokianum I have seen have entire leaflets.

Just rediscovered your question Rick... not exactly sure when they loose the leaf jagginess, certainly mature plants have entire leaves without such fine jaggies.  Interestingly, I grow a dwarf form of Arisaema amurense called 'Jagged Leaf' that Darrell Probst collected (I believe, from Korea)... I'll have to post photos some time.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Lori, I am pleased to report that seed from you, of Allium ovalifolium var. ovalifolium, sown over 1 year ago, has germinated after our long periods of rain.  Not a great photo, but you get the idea, there are 8-9 short bent-knee seedlings popping up!  I have tried and tried many times with this species, and with my own Allium listera, and the darned things never germinate.  maybe they need extra moist conditions, such as the weather we've had this year.

From a SRGC Forum member in Moscow I had received seed of Allium pseudoflavum (looks like the true species).  I sowed the seed in a flat in late summer and they germinated in November, so I overwintered them on a warm windowsill.  In early spring they had gone dormant.  Leaving out the flat exposed to the weather all summer, even with lots of rain, I'm glad to see how they resprouted strongly over the past several weeks (the Codonoprasum Alliums tend to resprout with winter-hardy foliage in late summer to early fall).
http://www.srgc.org.uk/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=2017.0;atta...
http://www.srgc.org.uk/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=5766.0;atta...

A terrible photo, but just to show that the rare yellow-flowered Allium eriocoleum from Iran and Kazakhstan (mine collected in Kazakhstan), has resprouted in the last week or so.  I'm happy about this, not being familiar with growing the species I worried that they died when they disappeared in the summer.
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=177.0;attach=9745;i...

Last is the extra fine form of Allium caeruleum from DBG (Denver Bot garden).  After the main plant flowers and dries up by midsummer, lots of small basal bulblets appear at the base of the stem; these can be harvested and planted... now with autum rains, they have resprouted.  Behind the grass-like sprouts is a much larger mature plant with bigger foliage, along with many of the basal sprout leaves as well.
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=177.msg1254#msg1254

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Cleaning up around my semi-smashed Magnolia trees (breakage from a surprise early-season 14" snowstorm when trees were in full leafage), I was pleased to find hundreds upon hundreds of Cyclamen purpurescens seedlings.  Left to their own devices, I do get some seedlings, but I'm guessing it is chipmunks and squirrels that take most of the bounty, but if I sit on the ground in the shade of a magnolia tree when Cyclamen seed pods are ready to shatter, and spend an hour or so to gather and immediately scratch the seed in to expand the colony, it WORKS!

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Belatedly going to start some dryland seeds.  Remembered coral sand sold in pet shops and may incorporate some of that.
Do folks sterilize their soil?  Iv'e heard everything from pouring on boiling water to baking in the oven.  Guessing wouldn't want to bake at too high a temp (150F? or 225F?) any experience?
Charles Swanson MA USA

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

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