Growing Jeffersonia from seeds

I’ve repotted some fine young Jeffersonia seedlings two weeks ago and now it took me a great pleasure to write this post. Jeffersonia diphylla (Twinleaf) is a wonderful NA species that should be mandatory for all gardens; the pictures show it in its glory at Aspen Grove Gardens.

A delight from early spring (April) to fall, and notice that although a woodland species, it is grown with a fair amount of sun and does very well.

Just like bulbous/tuberous species, the ones that form rhizomes need 2-3+ years to develop their root system before they will start flowering. The faster/better their rhizome grows, the sooner they will flower. Again, it is very easy to underestimate the size of a seedling root system. This is why the repotting is very important and can be done either in the fall or spring. Each period has its pros and cons, but for our climate at least, I incline for the late fall (after they’ve gone dormant).

 I will outline next the whole process from sowing to repotting the seedlings:

  • Sow the seeds as soon as possible after collecting, or keep moist at room temperature; however, keep in mind that this species doesn’t keep too well in moist storage and seeds are available (if) for a short period.
  • Sow as usual or use my ‘space saving method’ – also very practical for someone who doesn’t want to have one pot sitting around by itself. Sow all the seeds in one larger pot and ‘plant’ the pot in the ground (in late fall I added some mulch on top, which I’ll remove in the spring).

Tip: ‘plant’ the pot close to a shrub/tall perennial plant that will shelter and shade the seedlings; also close to the house so you won’t forget about it (the seedlings require extra watering during dry spells). Mine was close/beneath an old Peony, unfortunately I don’t have a picture.

  • Seeds have germinated somewhere in May (about 100% by the look of them). Foliage wise, not much it will happen the whole season, only one shoot with the cotyledon leaves.
Jeffersonia diphylla seedlings

Jeffersonia diphylla seedlings

  • Use a diluted fertilizer once in a while (only if you remember…), water regularly; nothing else to do till late fall.
  • By late October- early November watch for signs of dormancy.
  • Let the pot dry out a bit.
  • Tip off the whole content and gently separate the seedlings (don’t forget to congratulate yourself, take pictures, eat some chocolate/cake…)

Jeffersonia diphylla: one-year old seedlings ‘extracted’ from the pot

  • Repot in a fresh potting mix (I don’t have any ‘special’ formulas); one or more seedlings/pot. Planting 2-3 seedlings/larger pot will make a ‘clump’ faster.

Jeffersonia diphylla seedlings showing an extensive root system after one season of growth and a well formed bud.

  • Water well, and if it’s late November, that’s all they need.
  • Storage: cold frame, or again, ‘plant’ the pot(s) in the ground and throw mulch/few leaves on top.

Jeffersonia diphylla: repotted seedlings ( I have 2-3/pot)


Special thanks to Robert Pavlis @ Aspen Grove Gardens, for growing this beautiful, ‘photogenic’ species and providing the material for this post, i.e. the Jeffersonia seeds :)

You can apply the same technique for growing its Asian counterpart, Jeffersonia dubia. Next to come – how to easily grow from seeds Aconitum alboviolaceum…stay tuned.

End of the inventory – how they like it

My baby plants have been finally put to sleep, so I continue my ‘petit inventory’ series with some bulbs, tubers and rhizomatous species. Most people are often shy to start such species from seeds; in a way it is understandable because it takes 2-4+ years for these plants to start flowering. On the other hand, it is the only way to enjoy species that would be impossible to buy (at least in Canada), or if available, they would come at a high price.

For example, where could I find to buy Eremurus tianschanicus? Or Allium cupuliferum for that matter? Germinating and obtaining seedlings is often not a problem, but managing to grow them well until flowering stage is another story.

I will highlight here the repotting process of young bulbs/tubers which, if neglected, can detrimentally affect further growth. Because the sowing is done quite dense and seedlings put up few leaves during the growing season, it is easy to underestimate what’s happening underground with these species – the ‘storing’ organs are growing and become overcrowded. The repotting can be done in late fall or early spring before they start growing.

There is no rocket science about this – after the plants have gone dormant, tip off the pots, see what you find inside ;) and then repot in a good potting mix (emphasize on good drainage). Depending on how many bulbs/tubers you got, the space you have available and size of the pots, repot 1-3 bulbs/pot (or even more).

Regarding Allium, I followed the advice of Ian Young (aka The Bulb Despot) which has been growing and writing about bulbs since ‘forever’ ;) I advise everyone to read his Bulb Logs for further info. There is even an Index now, so one can easily look for a specific subject; with winter coming and more time available, I will review a few of them myself.

The very short summary for bulbs is: replant them at the same depth were found in the seedlings pot.
In the case of A. cupuliferum, the little bulbs were right at the bottom of a 10 inch pot, so down they went into a bigger/taller pot. I know it seems I planted too deep, but if that’s how they liked it, who am I to argue?


Allium cupuliferum – first year bulbs


Allium cupuliferum repotted bulbs

I am also new at growing Eremurus from seeds. After I extracted from their pot the long ‘carrot-like’ tubers you see in the picture, I wondered about them for a while :), took pictures (I am not wearing gloves when handling such delicate ‘subjects’, they only serve as background) and then I repotted all of them in a large pot with the growing point just below the potting mix/topped with small river stone (I used only one big pot because I need to keep my pots numbers in check ;(


Eremurus tianschanicus young tubers


Eremurus tianschanicus repotted

Another newly grown species from seeds was Scopolia carniolica var. brevifolia. Easy inventory in this case: one 2 years-old little rhizome – shown in the featured image. There was no need to repot last year but now it got a little too ‘fatty’ for its pot :)

I still have a lot to learn about growing such species from seeds, and despite my best intentions, I didn’t get to repot everything (for ex. the Trilliums, Paris); the process will continue coming spring…

Next post – more on growing rhizomatous species from seeds (including Glaucidium, Hydrastis and Podophyllum hexandrum), using the most wonderful and not enough cultivated Jeffersonia diphylla as an example.

Click for plant images if interested:
Allium cupuliferum
Eremurus tianschanicus


Friday’s Seed – Lomatium nudicaule


Lomatium nudicaule – Indian celery, Indian consumption plant, Barestem biscuitroot
Fam. Apiaceae


Lomatium nudicaule seeds (1 mm grid)

Lomatium nudicaule is a symbolic, valuable species for the Native People of British Columbia; the whole plant is edible and the seeds were chewed in case of colds, sore throats, tuberculosis.

From The Beliefs of the WSANEC People:
“That the KEXMIN, Indian consumption plant, is a good medicine used to clean and open the way for the pure spirits to come near”.

Dependable germinators

and the Rock harlequin

Usually mid-month I check on the moist stored seeds. No surprise this time; Trillium grandiflorum had a wave of germination in October, as per usual. No reason to panic; knowing it will happen I collect more seeds than would sell. The remaining of the seeds will germinate only after a cold period. In the case of T. erectum only very few seeds will germinate in the fall (without a cold period).

What I would like is to be able to tell which ones will germinate right away; unfortunately, these little skotomorphogenetics like to keep a bit of a mystery about themselves…


Trillium grandiflorum – many seeds will germinate (small tuber and root) at room temperature by November when stored moist after collecting.

What else? Asarum canadense is also one dependable germinator, and so is Allium tricoccum.


Asarum canadense (wild ginger) – the seeds will grow a small root after a warm period and the leaves will emerge in the spring after a cold period/winter.

Then there is the ‘grand mischief’ – Capnoides sempervirens (formerly a Corydalis).  It will germinate when it likes (from summer to late fall) and where it likes (that is, almost everywhere :) Later the seedlings are easily moved to a desired location or potted up).

I noticed the seedling in the image below since it was very tiny and I enjoyed seeing it grow. To be honest, who else besides the Rock harlequin, would like to call home the tiny space between the garden rock and a cement slab?


Capnoides sempervirens (Rock harlequin), young plant from ‘summer’ seeds

Centaurea species seeds don’t need moist keeping but are also dependable germinators, and one result: C. triumfettii ssp. stricta was looking so magnificent yesterday that I couldn’t abstain taking one more picture. Snow will arrive soon and every little flower must be enjoyed!


Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta


Friday’s Seed – Prosartes lanuginosa

Since we are heading towards the winter and the flowers are almost gone, I am initiating the first edition of a new series – Friday’s Seed(s). This (these) may belong to any species that I happened to photograph while sorting and packaging seeds, sowing  and/or working on my ‘seed library’ (which is getting larger by the day).

Some may find it useful, as I did in many situations when looking to clarify the identity of a species after its seeds characteristics. Not to mention that they are also very beautiful/interesting when seen up close.

Without further ado, sowed today: Prosartes lanuginosa, yellow fairybells, yellow mandarin – a North American woodland species (formerly Disporum).


Prosartes lanuginosa seeds (Fam. Liliaceae)

Fruit: red berries, each containing 1–2(–4)-seeds (Flora of NA)


Prosartes lanuginosa fruits


Note: Seeds of species featured are not necessarily found in the Seeds Shop. The main purpose of this series is to present scaled seed images (sometimes also the fruits) of correctly identified species.

Out in the woods – falling leaves

The ‘colourful leaves’ spectacle is getting close to an end in this part of Ontario; all we can do is to enjoy the last  warm, golden- russet hues which make the woodland glow. Green spots of moss boulders and Hepaticas, the fragrance of the dry leaves, the soft light – all so lovely!

Falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly.
                          John Bailey