Sunday, March 1, 2015

Germination, again!

Not the most flashy pictures, but exciting to me anyway. When I plant seeds and they actually germinate, it's a small victory! What to do after that is when my anxiety kicks in, but for now I try to just bask in this short lived success. Here's what I have germinating in my pots now...

Delphinium nuttallianum
This is a native Delphinium that I collected seed from last year. Unlike the gigantic horticultural types, this species is relatively diminutive, only around a foot tall, with something like three blue and white flowers. These seeds appear just as the leaves (below) of mature plants appear.
Delphinium nuttallianum leaf 

Triteleia hendersonii and/or Brodiaea elegans
 Last year, I collected seed from both Triteleia hendersonii and the closely related Brodiaea elegans. Stupidly, I neglected to label the seeds and couldn't tell them apart when it came time to plant last Autumn. Either way, I am very happy to see them germinate! These natives are my favorite locals.

Both species send up a few leaves in the spring, which begin to die back when summer approaches. As the leaves are dying, the flowers appear in loose umbels, flower magnificently, and turn upwards to develop seeds. The seed pods, once the swollen ovaries, hold the small seeds (just larger than poppy seeds) upright and are apparently distributed mechanically by the "springiness" of the dried scape. I suspect that birds may also play a role in seed dispersal of plants that display seed this way. Only lucky observation would truly determine this.

Echinacea hybrids
 I collected seeds from some garden cultivars, though I'm not sure what I will get when they flower. The seed parents were red and white selections, and I grow many different purple-flowered types as well, so I suppose I could get any range of colors. I imagine pale purple will be the dominant color, but only time and patience will tell. The seeds were scratched shallowly into the surface, and kept moist and in the elements throughout winter. This is the only way I have had success with Echinacea.

Xerophyllum tenax
 Recent heavy rains in the past few weeks killed many of the seedlings  previously shared, but new ones have emerged! And I have since moved the pots to a safer location...

Cynoglossum grande
 Looking closely, you may be able to make out the first true leaf emerging between the two seed leaves of the tiny plant in the upper left section of this pot. When seedlings make it to the first true leaf, it is a good sign that success is achievable! It also means that the root is taking over the role of providing nutrients from the soil. I will grow this one on for a year in this pot before attempting to repot it or transplant it to a spot in the garden.

Muscari hybrids
 Seed I collected from long dried capsules of Muscari 'Peppermint' have indeed begun to germinate, despite the out-of-nowhere notion that this selection was sterile. Muscari is a useful and beautiful genus that can be quite useful in the garden if used the right way. It is a good candidate for naturalization in places where it will not escape. As gardeners, we must always watch out for plants that are too successful, seeding about everywhere or spreading without limits. This is the benefit of a summer-dry climate, where plants are often reluctant to move out beyond the irrigated beds.
Narcissus hybrids
Like the Xerophyllum, the single leaf I had seen in this pot before was likely destroyed by rain. Despite that, I am now happy to see a few new seedlings emerging! The surface sown seeds have done nothing, but perhaps died. The leaves, unlike Allium or Muscari, appear tip first and straight (the other two come up folded and gradually unfold as they develop). The significance here is that the leaf can more easily push through the soil when sown deeply. Muscari and Allium, however, must be surface sown or they may not be able to break the surface.

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