Paris in the rain

Paris quadrifolia

Maybe there will be seeds again this year…

Breaking the tradition – Medeola virginiana germination

More updates on germination requirements

It seems that Medeola virginiana seeds don’t follow the traditional double morphophysiological dormancy (MPD). Unlike most species with this type of dormancy, which require a cold-warm-cold cycle to germinate and produce roots in the warm period (2 years seeds), M. virginiana seeds do not form a root during this time; instead, root and cotyledon emerge at the same time in the second spring after sowing.

Medeola virginiana seedlings; seeds sown fall 2015 – germination spring 2017

Speculations are that this sort of germination pattern may represent a transition towards a type of more complex MPD.
Or is it sorcery involved ? ;-)

OK, the practical meaning of all this: be patient and don’t scratch the pots looking for tiny roots in the first year.

For me: I could keep the seeds in moist storage until the second spring, if I would have that many…

Note: again, we are talking here about sown fresh/moist kept seeds.

Alien vs. Predators – Aquilegia scopulorum

When in bud, the long spurred Aquilegia species bring visions of ‘Aliens’ waiting to ambush the ‘Predators’ :-)

Aquilegia scopulorum

Two years ago I lost A. scopulorum I had from Wrightman Alpines; don’t know if because I transplanted it or it was short lived, but luckily I collected a few seeds. The seedlings are just about to flower, and well, maybe they won’t be entirely true to species, but they look very close. I also obtained two variegated seedlings which I hoped in vain will revert to green. I’m not very fond on variegated foliage and so my question is: to keep or not to keep? – that’s a hard one…

Aquilegia scopulorum variegated seedling

Meanwhile, I hope the Predators won’t show up at night….I love my Aliens. I will post an image with the fully open flower in a couple of days.

Thanks to the heat wave, it opened fast – so here it is, the very image of its ‘mama’ :))

Aquilegia scopulorum

Hello Sunshine!

Saruma henryi starting to flower; a super easy plant to grow

Back to basics – Aquilegia

Most probably the first plant I grew successfully from seeds (that is, which I saw it flowering :) was an Aquilegia. I don’t remember precisely which one and it doesn’t matter; I like them all very much. They are easy to grow, provide a whole array of heights/colours and are good pollinator plants.

Yes, some are short lived, and yes, some will get the leaf miner, and of course, they hybridize and not all seedlings come true to the mother plant, but I still like them very much.

After being transplanted (a few times) last year, a few of my Aquilegias went into a ‘flower strike‘. I apologized for the treatment and we reconciled…

Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila – is one with few of the above mentioned flaws: it usually comes true from seeds, and the thick, leathery foliage won’t be affected by the leaf miner (or very weak attack); all ‘flabellatas’ could be grown just for their handsome, fan-shaped foliage.

Aquilegia flabellata var.pumila – Cute as a ‘button’ ; grown from seeds


A. flabelata ‘Nana Alba’ will be flowering soon…


Lost in translation – updates on germination requirements

Slowly, as I have the chance to try more species myself, and/or find reliable info, I work on making updates for the germination requirements on the Seeds shop. I already mentioned about Sanguinaria canadensis.

It is easy to ‘get lost in translation’ when reading about various types of morphophysiological dormancies, but a short summary for species from temperate regions that require warm/cold cycle for germination will be as follows:

This dormancy breaking requirement is naturally fulfilled by summer (high temperatures) followed by fall (lower warm temperatures) and winter (cold stratification). Note the need of high followed by low(er) warm temperatures.

Because of the collecting/shop logistics and peoples habit of buying seeds in late fall, this means that such species, when sowed in late fall/winter will need the whole next season to undergo these requirements, although otherwise they would not qualify in the ‘2 year germinators’ category.
So it goes: changed from require ‘cold stratification’ to ‘warm – cold stratification’:

Hydrophyllum virginianum
Hydrophyllum canadense
Aralia racemosa
Prosartes lanuginosa (moist packed seeds available this fall I hope)
Ilex verticillata

Hydrophyllum virginianum seedlings, seed sown fall 2015, too late for the warm treatment, germinated this spring (2017)

Prosartes lanuginosa: seeds sown after collecting in early September 2016 – germination right now (I only had about 9 seeds)

Other warm/cold germinators that we already know about and I already posted pictures (many require moist storage): most Corydalis, Allium tricoccum, Asarum canadense and europaeum, Saruma, Anemone quinquefolia and A. nemorosa, Dicentra (D. formosa in the featured image), Thalictrum thalictroides, Jeffersonia, Hepatica….

Corydalis nobilis seedlings

What’s with the farina?

Primula gemmifera var. amoena

Ever wondered about the farina that many Primula species develop on the leaves, stems, buds, flowers?

I haven’t until I started to observe the tiny seedlings of P. gemmifera var. amoena (syn. Primula zambalensis) starting to get covered with the white ‘stuff’.  Being the only Primula I grew this year from seeds, maybe I looked more often at it.

Of course, others have preoccupied themselves with the subject a long ago. It seems that about half of the Primula species bear minute glandular hairs (see in the image the small dots on the leaves) which secrete the white (or yellow) powder called ‘farina’. It is actually a wax-like material mixed with flavonoids, in most cases.

Primula gemmifera var. amoena seedlings showing glandular hairs starting to secrete the farina

It has taxonomic significance and it was used to define sections in the genus Primula, but otherwise it is considered of no use to the plants being in fact just a ‘waste’ product eliminated from the plant cells through the secretory hairs.

Looking at it from the gardener’s perspective it is of great use though – think about how much it enhances the beauty of all farinose Primula species! Next year I hope to show the flowers of this Primula which grows on stony moist  slopes of NW Yunnan and SW Sichuan; they are said to be lilac- blue and deliciously scented!

Primula gemmifera var. amoena seedlings

Simplicity – Geum triflorum

Easy to grow in the garden and from seeds, this North American Geum is an absolute a delight!  An unpretentious, care free plant in most locations; sun and good drainage required. Best when planted in large numbers for the ‘smoky’ effect of the feathery seed heads (Prairie Smoke ;) in the summer.

Geum triflorum – Prairie Smoke, Old Man’s wiskers; rosy-red, nodding calyces/flowers, followed by feathery seed heads; the compact, ferny looking foliage will become reddish in the fall.

Propagation from seeds: I did a whole bunch last year – sown in the fall and left outside (cold/moist stratification) and the germination was excellent; I planted the seedlings in the garden by late fall.
The grown up clumps can be easily divided every few years.

Note: Other sources indicate sowing at warm.

Geum triflorum seeds head

The thing about Sanguinaria

…is that the seeds can have two types of morphophysiological dormancy (after Baskin & Baskin):

  • In the first case the roots will emerge in late fall after a warm stratification and the shoots growth will begin in the following spring (= after cold stratification); deep simple epicotyl dormancy.

Sanguinaria canadensis: seeds sown in summer 2016 – complete germination April 2017

  • In the second case (said to occur in about 49% of seeds according to a study), the shoots growth will begin in the second spring after sowing; deep simple double dormancy.

Sanguinaria canadensis: seeds sown in late summer 2015 – complete germination in 2017

The lots of seeds shown were collected from different sites, and I wonder if this was also a decisive/only factor in displaying the different types of dormancy. It is well known that the germination dormancy traits have a genetic component.

Temperatures in the summer/winter may also have role; to be sure I will try to repeat the sowing with seeds of both populations/at the same time. It would be nice to know and collect seeds from certain populations knowing they will germinate in the first year after sowing.

Note: To be clear, for Sanguinaria we are only talking about fresh/or moist kept seeds.


Out in the woods – Hepatica

It is that time of year when Hepaticas are flowering in the woods (and in the garden). Scouting in areas with large populations always leads to finding interesting forms!
The Hepatica acutiloba specimens shown below are isolated clumps and there is a good chance that a good proportion of the seedlings to come true to the mother-plants.

Hepatica acutiloba 1 – 2017

Hepatica acutiloba 2 – 2017

As well, this is the first find of a Hepatica americana with true pink flowers

Hepatica americana pink – 2017

Semi-double forms are not that rare as the pink flowered, but still a nice find.

Hepatica americana sd- 2017

The Hepatica shop section will be updated as soon as we’ll be able to tell how the seed forming is going on.

Also Claytonia virginica is in flower and soon Sanguinaria canadensis….a kind reminder that the Pre-orders page is up and running!
Usually there are plenty of Sanguinaria seeds and they keep well in moist storage, but asking for seeds of Claytonia, Erythronium and some of the special forms of Hepatica late in the fall, can only lead to disappointment…