Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bulbs from Seed

Back in the beginning of this year I had shared my thrill of seeing seeds I had collected from bulbs in my garden begin to germinate! (See the posts #3 and Germination!) Here is an update of what are at this time successes, thinking positive thoughts that they will all survive the journey to reach flowering sized plants. I've just recently repotted many of them (both to revitalize them and to cure my nagging curiosity), so below are some photos of the tiny bulbs!

Allium cernuum, seed grown
Two years ago I bought a packet of Botanical Interests seed of Allium cernuum from a local hardware store. The seed had germinated easily, similar to most Alliums, by scattering the seed atop a prepared pot in the fall and left outside. This is the first one to bloom! They open white, and then change color over time. This one is now showing some pink at the edges of the petals.

Allium hollandicum, first year seedling bulbs
A few years ago I had bought about nine bulbs of what is sold as "Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation'" (although the correct name of the species is currently accepted to be Allium hollandicum) from a stand of Dutch bulbs in a grocery store. The bulbs did not do well, and only one bloomed. Fortunately, it set some seed! I sowed the seed just the same as I did with Allium cernuum, and this was the result. I've taken these tiny bulbs (which were originally in two pots) and repotted them into a larger pot. Hopefully they will appreciate my efforts!

Chlorogalum pomeridianum, first year seedling bulbs
For years on my way home from work I had wondered what species the corn-like leaves of these plants were, overjoyed to discover that they were a native bulb! And behold, the first year seedling bulbs of Chlorogalum pomeridianum! The seeds were started much like the Alliums, best germination resulting from surface sowing and leaving outside. The seeds germinated about the same time the plants appeared in the wild.

For me, they are more interesting in leaf than in flower. Though sources claim the flowers open sometime in the afternoon, I have never actually seen them open. Right now, the plants growing alongside the road between Rogue River and Grants Pass (Oregon, where I live) are pretty much finished blooming with seed pods forming. The tall branched inflorescences reach heights of almost four feet.

Various "Brodiaea group" first year seedling corms
Last year, I had collected a small amount of seed from Dichelostemma, Triteleia, and Brodiaea. Unfortunately I had gotten lazy and forgot to label the bags! When it came time to sow the seeds in the fall I carelessly threw all the seeds into the same pot! So this is the result, I have no idea which is which. It should come as no surprise that the seeds of these "Brodiaea complex" seeds were surface sown, considering their close affinity to Allium. The corms were incredibly difficult to find, they were very tiny. Hopefully I didn't miss any.

Narcissus, first year seedling bulbs
Observing bees and other pollinators, I had observed last Spring (2014) that bumblebees favored the early blooming Narcissus over the later blooming ones. Corresponding to that observation, the early blooming yellow trumpet daffodils set the most seed! This is the result of that seed. I had sown the seeds at various depths, and I wasn't so confident about what was going to happen. Germ seemed slow and later than that of the other bulbs I have been growing from seed.

Repotting small Narcissus bulbs
To repot all the bulbs, in this case the tiny Narcissus bulbs, I took a lesson from Ian Young's Bulb Log (SRGC) and did the following: Filled the pot half way, then scattered the tiny bulbs around. The orientation wont matter, they will grow on normally.

Repotting small Narcissus bulbs
 Next step is to fill the pot. I filled them to the top, because the soil will settle over time. I did not water it, the Autumn rain will do that for me. Hopefully it will turn out well, I'll let you know.

Cynoglossum grande seedlings
Though not really a "bulb", Cynoglossum grande does compare to true bulbs in the way it grows. In Summer, it typically goes dormant when the rains dry up. This pot has been watered because I want the seedlings to get as big as they can. I'm not sure how the plants would respond if they were denied their dormancy, I will cease watering and allow them to dry out until Autumn.

Agapanthus seedlings 
My little Agapanthus seedlings were grown from seeds produced on plants in my parents garden, several miles up the road. I could not say if the plants are hybrids or what species, all I know is that they have endured 0° winters here and grew on normally the following Spring. The seeds that germinated best were surface sown (another pot had seeds submerged under grit, germ was poor). They seem to be slow growers, I will probably repot them when it gets closer to fall. I'm not sure what their final destination will be, since deer are a problem in my yard then they may end up somewhere else.

Kniphofia young plants
Last fall I had sown the seeds I had collected from some Kniphofias growing in the same garden as the Agapanthus above. I had kept the pot under lights with bottom heat in an open light rack on my front porch. Within a month, I had germination. So the seedlings grew on through the Winter, and in Spring I transplanted each one into a pot of its own. They are responding well to the treatment, all have put on new growth and appear happy. Some will end up in my garden, others will end up at my work in the front planting.

Anemone coronaria seedlings
Out of curiosity, I decided to see what would happen when I planted the fluff-covered seed of an Anemone coronaria selection that had grown well in my garden. The seeds were scratched into the surface of the soil immediately after they were collected, and the pot was kept moist and in a protected location.  And here are the resulting seedlings! This photo was taken a week ago, and since then we have had an intense storm with monsoon-like rains consisting of large rain drops. Many of the seedlings were knocked down, I've yet to know if they were killed. The few that survive would be the best, strongest plants.

Prospero autumnale seedlings
Prospero autumnale (syn. Scilla autumnalis) seedlings from the Pacific Bulb Society Seed Exchange (SX2) were sown shortly upon receipt this Spring, the pot kept moist in a shady cool part of the yard. The seedlings look healthy and vigorous, hopefully I can bring them to flowering size. Though they are stated to survive down to 15 or 20°F, I fear that if we have another Winter like 2013-14 (it was very cold), they will not make it. But a saying comes to mind: nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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