Seed starting

Alberto Castillo
Sat, 19 Oct 2002 10:18:36 PDT
Dear Mary Sue et al.
	As we all know very many kinds of seeds have a water soluble germination inhibitor. To dissolve this you need to water (abundantly in many cases). If your seed is covered the abundant watering (or rain) will exclude air (oxygen!) and the seed can be suffocated and die. So it is better to leave the seed uncovered and water abundantly to dissolve the inhibitor away. The layer beneath the seed must be porous enough to let excess water through but must withstand the pressure. Vermiculite is very good but unless one waters by gentle spraying it breaks apart easily and turns into dust. In my case crushed rock (to the size of a rice grain or so) have proved excellent for years. Seed lodges in the crevices and remain largely uncovered. After two weeks (although I often wait for a lot longer) I start covering the seeds with a thin layer of the same crushed rock. In case of large seeds like irises this is necessary to anchor the seeds in place rather than actual exclusion of light. Emerging radicles, bulblets and cormlets adjust marvelously to the necessary depth as they would in Nature.
	As for the subject of temperatures, it is plain clear that are seeds that need special treatments like alternate periods of cold and warmth, etc. Once the cold treatment is over, you can sow the seed uncovered and water well.
	Gelasine elongata is not a difficult plant but it is big, more so than Tigridia pavonia and will resent being restricted to small pots. In the wild it was almost 1 metre tall in flower. There are blue violet forms with a white star in the center and another one that is actually white with a broad blue edge. It comes from the huge region of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and S Brazil that receives year round rains. In it native bulbs are summer dormant but the climate is NOT Mediterranean. There is a Gelasine elongata population south of Buenos Aires where -10 C frosts are not uncommon in winter. And the wind chills the bones. But, from winter on there is along warm sunny season. If you give it full sun, put it to rest in summer (with the occasional watering), and give it a big pot, it will be quiet and dependable.
	Yes there is a Texan form of Herbertia lahue. It is dormant in winter and can stand a lot of cold. It is Herbertia lahue ssp coerulea. The Chilean Herbertia lahue grows under conditions suitable for a Cape bulb and is DRY summer dormant Alophia drummondii is a winter dormant tigridioid from Louisiana and Texas Herbertia quareimana (ex H amatorum) i a robust species from N Uruguay and S Brazil that lives in a hot region where soils and poor and acid and is hot summer dormant with year round rains. It resembles a short Tigridia violacea. Herbertia pulchella is a beautiful species from Uruguay in which the outer tepals extend horizontally and then droop, always with a white line a long them. There are several forms , the most striking a deep ultramarine blue and a varnished  appearance. There is a picture of it in one of my Herbertia articles. To explain the differences among them we must see images. They are very different from each other (if the images are properly named!). Go to IBS Images for instance

Herbertia quareimana (amatorum) is well depicted in an image by German Roitman
Herbertia pulchella is in two images by Maurice and by German Roitman
Herbertia lahue in a couple of great images by J. R. Manhart
Alophia drummondii is in two images by J. R. Manhart
The other two by Mike Vassar and by Gary Buckley are of Herbertia lahue ssp caerulea. So you have the whole picture!

	Yes, Smilacina and others are monocot perennials. Since IBS and PBS are bulb societies it makes no sense to include other kinds of plants. After all, Salvia guaranitica and Salvia patens have tuberous roots like Dahlias! Time ago, I insisted that Smilacina, Tricyrtis and others of the kind should not appear in IBS List but no one payed attention and they were included anyway.


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