Starting from seeds vs. from bulbs

John T Lonsdale
Fri, 26 May 2006 03:29:33 PDT
Hi Lee,

With Tecophileas, whenever I've had seed it has germinated just fine and the
babies have pretty much all survived to maturity.  They have taken longer to
get to flowering size than I would like, but I don't feed them as much as
maybe I could.  They are prone to rot if they have too much water at the
wrong time, maybe this is where your seedlings went?  It is one of those
plants that can disappear en masse when they seem to have been sailing along
merrily for many years.  Contrary to some advice, I keep mine completely dry
(but shaded) from late May to mid-September and am very sparing with the
water until foliage is evident in early-mid winter.  Those I have rotted
have gone away because I've been too heavy handed in the fall with the

Colchicum luteum and kesselringii are very different beasts to each other,
although there's no obvious reason why they should be.  (Here) C. luteum is
a lousy grower as mature bulbs, barely persisting in most forms (in pots and
the garden), although I have a couple that have flowered for two consecutive
years.  That is a major success.  I've sown lots of seed batches and had
nary a seedling.  Seedlings have been lucky to come above ground their
second year. In contrast C. kesselringii is very easy, inside or out, the
bulbs flower reliably and build up vegetatively.  It is also very easy from
seed, even very dry seed, germinating 100% the year after sowing.  It is the
easiest of all the Colchicums from seed.  Virtually all the seedlings make
mature bulbs in 3-4 years.  I must have 100 mature bulbs from seed that are
now in sand beds in the garden.

John T Lonsdale PhD
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341, USA

Home: 610 594 9232
Cell: 484 678 9856
Fax: 801 327 1266

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USDA Zone 6b

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