Seed Propagation methods

Jane McGary
Fri, 06 Feb 2009 15:30:09 PST
Regarding Calochortus seed, I've found that even if it is stored for 
more than 5 years, it remains viable if kept dry. It does not need to 
be refrigerated or frozen. Several years ago Ron Ratko gave me some 
very old seed from this genus, and it all did well.

Some species germinate quickly from fall sowing, and others are 
delayed. I think those from alpine and inland regions (e.g., C. 
kennedyi)  are the slow ones. As someone else noted, Calochortus 
seedlings are very prone to damp off, and should be grown in 
conditions as cold as possible without being frozen, and should be 
sown thinly, since germination rates are typically high.

I grow quite a lot of species in frames here and have lost few to 
winter cold, even the coastal species such as C. obispoensis and C. 
catalinae. They set seed readily, but populations I've raised from 
home-saved seed show some hybridization among the Mariposa types. 
Most take 4 to 5 years from sowing to flowering.

I look forward to reorganizing my bulb collection in a more 
naturalistic setting in a couple of years (still under glass, but in 
beds, not pots) and situating the Calochortus species around xeric 
plants such as eriogonums and acantholimons, which will give them 
some support and help them look less gangly when in bloom. (Not all 
Calochortus are "xeric," of course -- some live where there is some 
summer moisture.)

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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