Growing from Seed--PBS TOW

Mary Sue Ittner
Mon, 02 Dec 2002 13:22:51 PST
Dear All,

Cathy, Littonia modesta is an Eastern Cape species which means that it 
grows where there is very little winter rainfall and is dormant in winter. 
In Southern California there often isn't much winter rainfall so it would 
might work for you to put the seeds in the pot with the mother bulb and 
just leave it. I keep the two or three of these summer growers I have dry 
in my greenhouse during winter and that seems to work. Rachel told me she 
can grow Gloriosa outside in Cape Town, but my only attempt to do that was 
never seen again. I tried it on my deck this year and it wasn't happy there 
either so greenhouse seems to suit it best. Wet and cold might make the 
seeds rot.

On the other hand I have the following story to tell about how starting at 
the wrong time worked. I got some seed of Eucomis from Rhoda when I was in 
South Africa. She suggested I start half of it right away and half of it at 
the correct time in the spring. When I questioned why, she said the seed 
was old and might not still be viable in spring. If it was started in fall 
I should try to keep it growing through the summer and would be ahead of 
the game in size of the bulb. I followed her advice and started one batch 
in October and one in late February. The ones I started in October came up 
in March and grew when they normally would be growing. The ones in February 
never germinated. Now I kept that seed pot damp, but the seed did not come 
up until it normally would have.

It does seem logical if seed falls on the ground in nature and waits for 
the precise moment to germinate that we should be able to do that too. The 
trouble is that what that seed experiences in its native habitat may be 
very different than what we are providing it.

On the other hand people keep telling us about seeds of winter growing 
species that need a warm dry period before germinating and perhaps we 
should be planting those right away and instead of waiting until fall. 
Harold Koopowitz told us to plant Muscari seeds when ripe and then leave 
them dry all summer. That of course works if ripe seeds are available. I 
don't know if this would also be a good idea for those that arrive from 
seed exchanges in late winter-early spring.

While looking for something else, I found that Rachel wrote that Albuca 
seeds were very short lived so that may be part of Mark's problem with 
them. The ones Tom gave to one of our earlier BX are now up for me. And 
Mark I have grown Moraea villosa from seed from quite a few sources and it 
germinates quite easily under my system of warm days provided by my 
greenhouse and cool nights.

As for Laperiousa there must be a trick if Mark also has low germination. 
Alberto suggested I start a fire in the greenhouse (controlled of course) 
and shut all the vents to fill it with smoke. I probably should have tried 
that but we are having warm days and my vents are open and difficult to 
close manually. People have burn piles here in the fall which adds to the 
air pollution greatly and I haven't gotten the courage to bring my 
ungerminated pots to one of those and place them where the smoke would hit 
them for a day or two. One of these days I will. So far this year L. 
arnicola, fabricii, and pyramidalis pyramidalis are coming up with more 
than one or two (my usual is 0-2 seeds per pot.) The one exception that I 
have concluded has to be something else because it is growing so well is 
Laperiousia corymbosa (from Silverhill Seeds.) It germinated well and the 
second year when I dumped out the pot I counted 175 corms from the one 
packet. Could be kind of scary. I am hoping whatever it is will bloom this 
year. The leaves look big enough.

Mary Sue

More information about the pbs mailing list