Check and skotomorphogeneticals

(Is this a catchy name, or what?)

I got into a routine to check the moist packed seeds at mid and end of the month. Because we are planning a Red seeds Sale at beginning of December (heads up) I did it yesterday. Remember the germinated Trilliums? Well, some got planted in pots and some remained in moist vermiculite, which is also a proper medium to easily check on them and take a few more pictures.

You can still read in many places that Trillium has a double dormancy but that was really old school thought. Here’s a LINK for something more up to date on what’s been called skotomorphogenetic growth (found in other species too). This concept defines germination as the point when the radicle/rhizome emerges from the seed and all the growth that follows represents the development of the seedling in the dark (from ‘skoto’ – dark in Greek).

Trillium grandiflorum seedling (late November)

Trillium grandiflorum seedling (late November) -a cute ‘skotomorphogenetic’ with a fatty, little rhizome; the cotyledons are already visible, now it needs more cooling before elongation will start. All this growth was achieved based on the energy reserves stored in the endosperm.

It makes sense. The term double dormancy puts quite a few people off from growing such species from seeds because it implies that they really take a lot of time to germinate. Furthermore, it suggests that the seeds are lying underground and nothing happens, which is not only completely false but also dangerous as you may miss providing the care that they need.

So, skotomorphogenetical it is; I just wish they would have found another name…All the other moist packed seeds are fine; in the featured image – plump, moist seeds of Paris quadrifolia (a Trillium relative, that is also called ‘double dormant’).

Watch out for Helleborus purpurascens and Actaea pachypoda f. rubrocarpa in the Red sale!

Note: one Trillium fruit can have both, seeds with dormant embryos and without – these will start germinating by fall if sown or moist storage provided. If you want all the seeds to germinate, a quick GA3 treatment will do the trick.

The sleeping beauties

Part 1

After the seeds shop opening and an early winter arrival I am in the rush now to tuck in safely my sleeping beauties. Our garage serves as a ‘winter storage/garden’. In what I call sleeping beauties I include various species done from seeds that have one thing in common: that they are ‘sleeping’ in their first season, totally or partially. Sleeping is not quite a proper term because they are actually growing but mostly underground. However, for a long period of time you are staring and caring for what, some may call, empty pots.

They are mainly hypogeal germinators that in their first season will only emerge the radicle and grow a young tuber/rhizome: Paeonia species, Trilliums, some Lilium species… Paeonia mlokosewitschii seedlings resemble little creatures hungrily sucking water and nutrients from the soil mix ;)

Others like Glaucidium palmatum, will germinate totally underground or above, but remain arrested at the cotyledons stage and spend the season fattening up a growing point underground. The whole process can be sped up a bit if you can sow right away in late summer and/or treat with GA3.

 I can already envision their awakening next year, after the Spring’s big kiss!

I know that many don’t care to start from seeds species Paeonies because it will take at least 3-4 years until they start flowering but their spring foliage is equally mesmerizing. For the same reason it is not very easy to find to buy them and when available are quite expensive. Better start them from seed – in a blink of an eye they will grow, prosper and flower! I do not have such seeds to offer (unfortunately), but most often you will be able to get hold of a few Paeonia species through Seed Exchanges.

 more tucking in to do…

PS. NOT recommended to scratch the pots, or remove the seedlings, like I did; be patient until spring. In my excuse, I needed pictures so I can share the experience.

SEEDS SHOP Launching!

The Seed Shop is Open for business!

Many, many thanks again to everyone supporting this endeavour in whatever way: proofreaders, seed providers, blog readers, hand holders… ;) I am sure we will hit a few bumps down the road but I am confident problems will be solved as they emerge. Although a few species are still to be added and seeds to be cleaned, most seed packets can now be added to the shopping cart and pushed through the checkout using PayPal for payment.

The official opening is featuring an annual Gentianaceae – Halenia deflexa, the spurred gentian which belongs to the group of close Gentians (with flowers that never fully open). It is not very common in the wild and it could surely use some garden love and more attention. The spurs of the flowers are held backwards (hence ‘deflexa’) resembling little floral space ships launching into space!

I hope they’ll take the news of the Seeds Shop opening far away into the galaxy of plant lovers!

Halenia deflexa2

Halenia deflexa – Spurred Gentian

It grows about 40 cm tall and blooms in late July to August; flowers will gradually tilt to 90 degrees (or even lower) and change colour from greenish to purple. A subtle, science-fiction-like apparition in the late summer garden!

In the wild is usually grows at the margins of woods or clearings of mixed coniferous and hardwoods, in dappled shade. Never found it in big numbers; groups of 2-3 to 10 individuals at most, so it is fair to say that it will self-seed around in a very delicate way to ensure a perennial population. I hope at least a few people will want to give it sanctuary into their gardens! – not too many seeds, find them in the Annual and Biennial Plants category:


Halenia deflexa

Halenia deflexa

Visit the Base Camp page for the Opening Celebration Offerings – 20% off selected Wildflowers of North America

Freshly baked S-cones

Pinus banksiana – Jack pine

Baking seems always the perfect thing to do when the weather turns cold and wet. A few Scones were rapidly thrown into the oven and soon the heavenly warm, resinous smell freshened up the entire house!

Pinus banksiana cones
Pinus banksiana baked cones

Pinus banksiana cones remain on the tree for quite a few years without opening, reason why at any time there are various generations of cones present on the trees. In the wild, old cones will open to release the seeds only after forest fires, or sometimes, after very hot, dry weather.

If none of these apply, you can always bake a few Scones ;)

Pinus banksiana is the pine portrayed by Tom Thomson in his famous paintings of the Northern Canadian landscapes, characterized by shallow soils and rocky outcrops where the Jack pine becomes gnarled with age and bent by winds. It presents an amazing hardiness and adaptability; all it requires is a full sun location. As a result, it is cultivated mainly for bonsai forming, but it could be also trained to form picturesque specimens for the rock gardens, especially when planted at a young age.

The S-cones are gone but you can find warm, fresh seeds in the Shop!