Difficult Seeds--PBS TOW

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Fri, 29 Nov 2002 10:15:39 PST
Regarding Mary Sue's difficulty with Corydalis seed When I was processing
the intake of the NARGS Seed Exchange a few years ago, a Corydalis fancier
sent in his seeds packed in cotton in little boxes (like the kind earrings
come in) and wrote that Corydalis seed is very easily crushed in the mail,
being fragile. Naturally, once the seeds get to the exchange, they are
handled just like everything else, despite the care of the donor! I also
believe it germinates best if fresh, but I have raised some species from
exchange or purchased seed, including a couple of the good dwarf ones.

Possibly I am having better luck with my Calochortus collection because it
is colder here, and they are inhibited from growth above ground during the
wettest months. I get lots of seed from most of the species I grow and am
building up a stock of seedlings to distribute when they get a little more
size on them.

Mark Mazer reported difficulty with Eremurus seeds. These typically
germinate after TWO periods of cold chilling; that is, they go through two
winters and appear above ground (I don't know if they are hypogeal like
many Liliaceae and form a radicle below ground the first winter) the second
spring after planting. Josef Halda once told me that the seed pots should
be dried off during the first summer, but I don't know if this is really
necessary. I have grown only wild-collected seeds of Eremurus, and the
germination percentage is not high. The rhizomes take about 5 years to
reach flowering size.

In that connection, I would be interested to know if forum members prefer
to buy only flowering-size bulbs, or if they are also interested in smaller
bulbs at a lower price. Last summer I offered some small Fritillaria bulbs
at 5 for a dollar or some such price, and people ordered them. It is easy
to grow a lot of bulbs to the two- or three-year-old stage, but beyond that
I don't have room. I know that some people are planting these bulbs
directly in the garden or potting them up for plant shows or public
displays, and they want immediate results. What is the general opinion on
this question?

Jane McGary
Northwest Oregon

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