|A cold day, snow on the trees|
It's the middle of Winter here in SW Oregon. It's cold, wet, and dark. The sun only checks in briefly once every couple of days to check on us. We have had brief encounters with snow, but the typical weather is overcast and drizzling, hovering above freezing most mornings and warming up to a toasty 46°F. As for plants, the most exciting growth is at the tiny seed scale. Seedlings everywhere, in pots and the ground, are germinating now. I grow seeds in two places, protected under my porch under lights with bottom heat, and the rest sunk into a garden bed out in the open. Seeds I know to be hardy and/or requiring the Winter treatment went out in the open, while seeds which I haven't yet been acquainted went under protection. I have had good success with this practice. Below are some of the current (hopefully persistent!) seed germination success stories that I have to tell.
|Seedlings under lights on the porch|
I became greatly confused when researching the identity of what I had received as "Scilla latifolia" from one of the PBS seed exchanges last year. (I wrote a summary of my confusion here, near the bottom of the post.) No matter, they seem to be growing on just fine and not being sure of the name doesn't ruin my enjoyment of a plant. One has apparently been killed by frost, while the others remain. This is an example of the importance of genetic variation, as the ones that do not make it would not have done well as mature adults in my climate, whereas the survivors will be better able to withstand what may be the edge of their limits. If I can ever attain seed from these plants, their offspring will be even better suited to living here. This is the idea behind heirloom seeds and the reason open pollinated plants are better than tissue culture clones or F1 hybrids, in my opinion.
To the left is my pot of Autumn blooming Crocus goulimyi. The seed was planted halfway down the pot, as suggested by Ian Young, and the results are good! This success is because unlike many other bulbous monocots the cotyledon comes out of the seed point-first and is not folded like Allium or Erythronium, which need to be surface sown. It was suggested by Ian Young in one of his Bulb Logs (SRGC) that the location a seed must be sown is determined by its mode of germination. If the leaf is folded it cannot pierce through a thick layer of soil. To be safe, the best course of action is to scatter the seeds onto roughened seed starting medium and stir it in (only the top half-inch) with your finger, then adding a thin layer of grit to keep the medium or seeds from floating, then tamping down and watering in.
Probably better known as Zigadenus fremontii, this species is native to low elevation SW Oregon south to Baja, likely in coastal regions. This was a PBS SX acquisition, and due to the relatively mild climate it is known from I have thus far kept it under protection just to be safe. This is a very toxic species, one of my attempts to grow something that will not be eaten by the local fauna that inhabits my yard and allows me to garden (or shall I say, allows me to prepare lunch). This is an interesting genus, all parts being toxic including the pollen and nectar. I have not seen bees visit the local T. micranthum, yet there are so few individuals that it is not a fair study population. Native bees are suspected to be the pollinators of these plants, and I can't help but wonder if, like caterpillars who feed on toxic plants to become toxic and distasteful themselves, the bee larvae provisioned with pollen and nectar from Toxicoscordion similarly protects them from pests or predators.
|Allium trifoliatum 'Chameleon'|
Depending on the genus and species, the bulb is either formed at the tip of the radicle or at the surface by the seed. Seeds which produce the bulb next to the seed at the top of the radicle benefit from a slightly deeper planting to help the tiny bulb achieve depth. Otherwise, contractile roots pull the growing bulb deeper and deeper into the medium over a series of years until the preferred depth is achieved. The perfect depth is dependent on a variety of local conditions, and thus it is always best to err on the shallow side when planting bulbs rather than deeper as they cannot fix themselves if planted too deep, and will likely perish.
|Allium carinatum subsp. pulchellum f. album|