Starting from seeds vs. from bulbs

Jane McGary
Sun, 28 May 2006 10:20:44 PDT
Following up the discussion of Tropaeolum seed germination, I suggest that 
anyone wanting to dip into this genus begin with Tropaeolum brachyceras. I 
grew it from Watson seed but it's now available from some commercial bulb 
suppliers, and there was plenty of it donated by me and others to the NARGS 
exchange last year. It also self-sows between the pots in the bulb frames 
here (I'll bet the tubers are a foot deep). It does not increase well 
vegetatively. The seeds germinate quite readily the first season after sowing.

This is a small-scale Tropaeolum, extending about 2 feet (60 cm) here and 
probably a little more in nature. In general habit it's much like T. 
tricolor. It climbs on anything nearby but will also flower flat on the 
ground. The flowers are bright yellow and appear in late winter and early 
spring over a long period. The best thing about it is its cold-hardiness: 
at least down to 20 F without any damage, even on the emerging stem tips. A 
good way to grow it in a container would be to let it climb a wire topiary 
form (I just stick a twiggy branch in the pot).

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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