Mary Sue Ittner
Sun, 05 Nov 2006 20:35:13 PST
Dear Jean,

Tropaeolum has been a very challenging genus for me. I've grown a few from 
seed, but we are talking only a few plants out of lots and lots of seed 
started. Two I grew from seed in the last couple of years bloomed the first 
year and were not growing in a big pot either. But since only one of the 
seeds germinated in each pot there was a lot more room for the tuber. I 
just kept them in the same pots I started them in and tried to rig up a 
climbing support. When I emptied out the pots, one of them had a nice tuber 
and the other had nothing. The one with a nice tuber sat the year out the 
next year and didn't come up at all, but this year is up. Many of the 
others I grow have yet to make an appearance this year so it looks like I'm 
having my usual lack of luck. When they first come up (from seed or a 
tuber) the shoot is so tiny it is easy to miss. If snails or birds see it 
first you can forget the season. And the shoot is very fragile and if 
broken off by the wind or even a human trying to get it started on a 
support may not regrow. And if it dries out this is another recipe for 
disaster. So you have to watch carefully and be nurturing.

Bill Dijk has a nice picture on the wiki of the support system he uses for 
his. If you have already planted them I'd check them often for signs of 
life and pot them on very carefully after the shoot  has grown a little but 
when they are still small. They will want to twine very quickly and without 
support will fall over and it will be harder to transplant once that 
happens. You aren't supposed to do this with bulbs, but a  lot of us have 
if you just slide out the whole lot carefully and angle it on the top of a 
larger pot with soil already in it. I don't think you'd have much luck if 
you leave any that germinate in a six pack.

But since I've had dismal luck growing these from seed hopefully others can 
give you better advice. Keep us informed about how you get on.

Mary Sue

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