Seed starting

Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 18 Oct 2002 20:39:48 PDT
Dear All,

I was very much interested in Alberto's very complete reply to Jennifer's request for help with growing from seed. I have always wondered about the usual suggestion to cover seeds with a layer of grit since in nature seed would seem to fall on the ground. Some seed are so tiny I have wondered how they could manage to get through all the layers. I have experimented with many types of cover of seed and not been sold on any I tried including sand. Last year I tried mixing a little coir and profile (the only time I could find the latter) and that worked as well as most things I have tried. Since I had already started some seed and covered it, I will not cover the rest for a couple of weeks and then compare how they do. His explanation makes a lot of sense however.

I am curious about what the rest of you have found works for you.

It was good to read about Gelasine elongata. Bill Dijk gave seed to the IBS BX a number of years ago and I couldn't find out anything about how to treat it. But as a lover of blue flowers I wanted to try. I wasn't successful germinating it starting it in spring, but my friend Jana did better and she potted up some for me. It never went completely dormant, but I was trying to make it dormant in winter. It was not very happy in a container so I finally planted it in the ground in a place that we water a little every week and it looks much better. It bloomed nicely for Jana and with her permission I collected some seed for the BX, but it bloomed in summer and neither of ours is dormant now. I am interested that it is dormant in the summer in the wild. Jana lives in a cold spot in Sebastopol and it has survived freezing temperatures in the ground. Is this another one that we have gotten out of sync by not knowing much about it?

Gelasine azurea (now the proper name is Gelasine elongata). Sow in Fall in full sun and in a well drained soil. In the wild  it receives year round rains but is dormant in summer. Flowers in early Spring and give it rather frost free conditions.

Is there a Texas form of Herbertia lahue? I would love for Alberto to give us a clear explanation of how to tell apart Herbertia lahue, Alophia drummondii, Herbertia amatorum, and Herbertia pulchellum. I have started seed of all of these and many of them look alike and I am not sure what is what. I suspect some of them may be misnamed.

Herbertia lahue. Is this the Chilean one? The Texan one? Full sun, good soil rather on the drained side. Sow in Fall.

Alberto's comment about Smilacina made me smile. I have grown from seed some California natives that were once classified in the Liliaceae family. Some still may and I believe some of them have been moved to other families. As Alberto states, many of them are not geophytes I have found out when they were dormant and I dumped them out. I always thought many of them were. I really had to search for Scoliopus bigelovii and Clintonia andrewsiana roots. I wasn't sure there was anything left in the pot. I haven't looked at my dormant Trillum, but perhaps it is the same. To see them in growth and flower, you'd really expect them to be geophytes, but I guess we'd have to call them monocots and perennials. Smilacina was probably donated to the IBS BX since it was in the Liliaceae family. In my notes from Alan I see it is now in Convallariaceae along with Maianthemum.

Smilacina stellata is not a bulb , does not behave like one and I wonder what is it doing here?

Mary Sue

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