When to sow seed from the BX/Delphinium seed

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 21 Jan 2006 10:01:00 PST

Alberto tried to get us routinely to mark whether the seed we give to the 
BX is of plants growing in winter, summer, or evergreen to help know when 
to sow or plant. This is especially helpful when seeds are donated from 
different hemispheres. Sometimes this information is provided, sometimes 
not.  I'm assuming Joyce's offerings in the latest BX of Ledebouria and 
Liatris are all summer growing and dormant now in the northern hemisphere 
and if planted now would need some protection from rain and cold. Doug's 
seed of  Haemanthus and Scadoxus should be refrigerated and planted soon if 
you are unable to plant right away since these South African amaryllid 
seeds have a short storage period. If they have sprouted when you get them, 
it is best to plant immediately.

A number of years ago we had a discussion about when we in the Northern 
hemisphere should plant Tecophilaea seed harvested in the Southern 
Hemisphere with some people suggested it needed to be planted right away as 
Rob is suggesting, but the majority recommending planting in the fall. I've 
started seed from Bill Dijk in New Zealand more than once and always saved 
the seed to plant in the fall and had good germination. In my climate they 
generally start showing green December to January and I even have a couple 
trying to bloom now in spite of the wet weather although others are still 
coming up. Granted the seed I got from Bill was not obtained as soon as 
this seed from Rob and all of us are eager to get a quicker start on 
something that takes a number of years before it blooms. I just suggest 
there might be some flexibility about when you start that seed and it may 
depend on what kind of conditions you can provide after the seed 
germinates. A lot of us have found that when some seed is started much 
later that it would be in nature, that it may not grow long enough and well 
enough to form a large enough bulb to survive dormancy. In that case 
holding it to the proper time if the seed can be saved without losing 
viability may result in greater success.

I had recent surprise when Delphinium seed I purchased from Ron Ratko a 
couple years ago (03 seed) germinated in huge numbers this year. I had sown 
half of it last year and  had really poor germination so decided there was 
little to lose in starting again the seed I hadn't sown that had been 
stored (mostly under refrigeration, but not entirely.) This year I left it 
out to be rained on when last year I was more protective of it. So maybe it 
needed massive rain which nature provided to break the dormancy. On the 
other hand I've always read Delphinium seed had a short viability and at 
least for these two species, this wasn't true. Now what am I going to do 
with all these Delphiniums, when each could end up in a gallon pot by the 
end of the year?

Mary Sue

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