Difficult Seeds--PBS TOW

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Tue, 26 Nov 2002 09:15:06 PST
Dear All,

Thanks Georgie for your interesting response. I don't lose Western US Alliums, Brodiaeas, Fritillarias, et.al. It is only Calochortus and as you suspect, Mariposas, and especially those from Southern California or dryer areas. Bob Werra shared some seed with me very late a couple years ago. I thought it was too late to start it, but he encouraged me so I sowed half of Calochortus weedii in February. It germinated a month later and I still have it. The other half I sowed last year in October. It came up in November and we had two months of solid rain and it succumbed. Since we have more rain than Sebastopol, usually averaging 65 inches (165 cm.) and cooler summers I think I'll start all my Mariposas in late winter not that you have shared Jim's results. I do remember the year we had almost 100 inches of rain (254 cm.) and a third of that in March so you can never know for sure.  I suppose it makes sense since this seed lasts a few years to try it at different times.

Thanks Rob for the Gethyllis response. I had that great Gary Buckley article saved (and he has written some wonderful ones) and I also found that in Rachel's topic of the week intro. to Gethyllis I should have read before I asked my question she did say to keep the seed moist. Gethyllis seeds growers do you water from below or the top?

John's comment on Aristea seemed to stop abruptly, but not before I was amazed that he had better germination in spring since Rachel usually tells you when to start the seeds and winter growers you start in fall. My Aristeas that had come up last fall went down with the Calochortus when it was so humid. If the ones I have sowed this year do not come up (and they haven't yet), I suppose if I try again I could try starting in spring. They wouldn't really go dormant so it might not matter so much when they were started.

After several trials of starting seeds at different time, I have found that I have much better luck with Veltheimia bracteata I start late winter rather than early fall.

And Richard, when you start the seed from another hemisphere depends a lot on how long the seed will remain viable. If the seeds have good staying power, my experience has been that it is better to save them in the refrigerator in a glass jar and start them at the proper time. With Amaryllid seed it sometimes has started to sprout by the time it arrives from South Africa so you have no choice. Then as Rob pointed out you are growing it at the wrong time of the year. Often you can keep it going a whole year so it can then go dormant at the right time. Andrew Wilson experimented with placing some Amaryllid seed in the refrigerator to hold it off to a better time for starting it. He had good results. I tried repeating that experiment and found the ones I planted right away did better, but I had a very small sample. The Gethyllis seed is very tiny and Andrew did not have good results with it in the refrigerator and Rachel told me not to hold it, but to start it right away. When I used to start seed as soon as I got it at the wrong time I did not have a lot of long term survivors. Some just didn't get big enough before they started going dormant to survive.

Mary Sue 

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