Shop announcement

I apologize in advance but due to a family emergency, all orders placed on/and after Dec. 1 will be shipped after Dec.18th

Orders can be placed for in stock items, but keep in mind that shipping will resume only after Dec. 18th!

*The Canada 150 Celebration Sale will be extended to the month of January.

 Thank you for your understanding!

 

And a very abbreviated Newsletter for the coming December:

Latest seeds collected – Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’
Back in stock – Dioscorea caucasica
Latest addition to Canada 150 Celebration Sale – Aquilegia ‘Origami’ white
New page added to the Seeds Library – Primulaceae
If in need of botanical entertainment, the Botanical Trailblazers page has a new entry – Caryophyllaceae

And a happy summer image with Erinus alpinus – the latest species added to the Easy plants to grow from seeds list.

Erinus alpinus; front – Scabiosa silenifolia

Winter getaway – Caryophyllaceae part I

Follow-up to Friday’s seeds – let’s go up the mountains and then travel to the Dobrogea region (close to the Black Sea, Romania) to see a few Caryophyllaceae.

I’ll start with Arenaria; yes, usually not overly ornamental plants but easy to please and cheerful when in flower. Arenaria ciliata shown below; another Arenaria found at high altitude is A. biflora.

Arenaria ciliata at about 1100 m alt.

Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum, the alpine mouse-ear, can be found at alpine level in quite a few mountain ranges, not only in the Carpathians; it grows on rock crevices, nooks formed between boulders, also on stabilized rock screes and alpine meadows. It is quite adaptable and the woolly foliage makes a nice addition to the large, white flowers; something good to try for any ‘not that advanced’ rock gardener (myself included).

Depending on the traveling time, there are always various Dianthus species to admire from the alpine level to the foothills of the mountain, like D. petraeus, D. tenuifolius, D. carthusianorum and D. glacialis, to mention just a few. Over the years I’ve presented and offered seeds of some of them, except D. glacialis.

Dianthus glacialis

Gypsophila petraea, a cushion forming alpine baby-breath, endemic for Carpathian Mts. usually grows on conglomerate boulders and crevices on the rock walls; often in localized areas. Excellent species for rock gardens and not difficult to grow based on from my previous experience; unfortunately, most of the capsules were immature and I found very few seeds.

Gypsophila petraea; in the image below with Asperula

Moehringia is an overlooked genus in my opinion. I like Moehringia muscosa for its fine texture and although I didn’t have a shaded rock crevice to offer, it did quite well this summer in my garden in a less than favourable position (‘protected’ by Primula sieboldii). The picture in the wild was taken in Barsei Massif (also part of Carpathian Mts.).

Quite a few Minuartia species grow at alpine level and lower; among them, Minuartia verna, the spring sandwort is a rewarding, easy to grow species so don’t be shy to give it a try.

Two cushion forming species of Minuartia from the Bucegi Mts. would be worth having in a rockery: Minuartia recurva and Minuartia sedoides. Especially M. sedoides looks similar to Silene acaulis, but of course that the flowers, when present, signal the different genus. Sometimes they grow interlaced with one another and it is even harder to distinguish them.
One year I must make a special effort and collect seeds of these species.

Minuartia sedoides with yellowish flowers, Silene acaulis and rosettes of Primula minima

Minuartia recurva

I previously showed and probably everyone knows Silene acaulis (first image in the gallery). I’ve also shown with other occasion the cute Silene pusilla (now growing in my garden as well :), so please browse through the gallery to get an idea of the habitats these species are growing in (click to open full size images).

Most pictures are from the Bucegi plateau (alpine level). The ‘green’ boulders’ composed of Silene acaulis, Minuartia and other cushion species, which punctuate the barren rocky areas, are in fact small plant communities.  The cushion-type plants are colonizers of these harsh habitats on rapidly draining rocky/sandy soils, and thus very important as pioneers for the installation of other alpine species.

Here’s one more good example with Minuartia sedoides and Primula minima taking good roots in the partly decomposed cushion.

Minuartia sedoides with Primula minima

I didn’t mention Sagina, Scleranthus and probably few others but it’s time to come down the mountain. From the South-Eastern Carpathian Mts. to Dobrogea region there is about a 4 hour drive; it won’t take long to get there – stay tuned…

Friday’s Seeds – more Caryophyllaceae

A few images recently added to the Caryophyllaceae page on the Seeds Library all species collected this summer in the Carpathian Mts. and Dobrogea region, Romania.
In general, species from Caryophyllaceae family are easy to grow from seeds and some (for example,  think Dianthus, Silene) may even flower in the first year.

Pictures with various Caryophyllaceae showing the habitats they grow in, will follow this weekend. Stay tuned, I’ve prepared many pictures – the time for winter getaways has come!

 

Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum- alpine mouse-ear

Gypsophila petraea

 

Silene compacta

 

 

Easy species to grow from seeds – Edraianthus graminifolius

I’ve started to put together a list with species easy to grow from seeds as a way to provide info and encouragement to those who are at the beginning of their seeds adventures. The list will see additions as we go and every update will also include a plant portrait.

Let’s begin with Edraianthus graminifolius; yeah, I am not starting with A, just because I don’t feel like it :)

Edraianthus graminifolius – grassy bells belongs to the Campanula family and like its name suggests, has linear, grassy-looking leaves and large, blue flowers, in terminal clusters in May-June. The foliage remains tight and low at about 15 cm but the flowering stems are spreading/trailing so it needs its space ;)
An absolutely delightful and easy going plant, as long as grown in full sun/well drained locations. You don’t really need a rock garden for it; just keep in mind its growth habit and place it in a suitable spot.

Edraianthus graminifolius in June

Edraianthus graminifolius and another easy going, the silvery/pubescent – Hieracium lanatum

Growing for the first time from seeds, or just want something fast and easy? Try something from the list below. ‘Easy to grow from seeds’ means:
– easy to germinate & in large percentage
– seedlings that aren’t fussy to grow
– also, easy going plants in the garden, as long as provided with the required conditions.

I will avoid the so called two-stage germinators (although all you have to do is wait) or others that I never germinate/grow myself, species with naturally low germination rates, cases where the seedlings need special care or the ones I’m not quite sure about.

Easy species to grow from seeds from BotanyCa 2017 Seed list (list to be updated; other species not available currently  will be included)
Updates highlighted in green

Aquilegia bertolonii, A. canadensis and all others
Anemone multifida var. saxicola
Anthemis carpatica
Arisaema triphyllum
Arisaema flavum
Asarum canadense (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asarum europaeum (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asphodeline lutea
Berkheya purpurea
Calycanthus floridus
Centaurea triumfettii
C. orientalis, and other Centaurea spp.
Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum
Cirsium canum

Corydalis lutea (moist kept seeds)
Corydalis solida (when sown right away or moist kept seeds)
Clematis integrifolia

Dianthus nardiformis
Dianthus superbus ssp. sajanensis, other Dianthus spp.
Edraianthus graminifolius
Erinus alpinus

Gentiana cruciata
Gentiana dahurica
G. tibetica, other spp. from Cruciata section
Geum triflorum. other Geum spp.
Gypsophila species

Hieracium lanatum

Iris dichotoma
Jurinea mollis
Lathyrus vernus
Lilium formosanum var.pricei
Linaria
Lychnis ssp.
Lupinus bicolor

Mimulus spp.
Papaver alpinum
Paronychia cephalotes
Phyteuma orbiculare
Phyteuma scheuzeri
Podophyllum peltatum (moist kept)

Primula japonica and other Primula spp. (not all)
Plectritis congesta
Sedum ssp.

Silene ssp.
Scabiosa caucasica, other Scabiosa spp.
Stylophorum diphyllum (moist kept species)
Stylophorum lasiocarpum
Thalictrum cf. foetidum
Viola – most species

Friday’s seeds – Echinops crispus

Besides the seeds, a sunny image with Echinops crispus (curly Echinops) on this bitterly cold day; the red flowers of Anthyllis might warm us up.

Echinops crispus and Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea in the background, early June 2017

I secretly watched this globe thistle evolve from a small seedling into a beautiful clump this year; too bad I was away just when at its most glorious time. The underside of leaves and the stems are covered with a thick pubescence (shown in the featured image), a perfect adaptation for the drought; grown from seeds collected in the southern Ural Mts. (Chelyabinsk region).

Echinops crispus, July 2017

 Like in many other species from Fam. Asteraceae, some of the fruits (achenes) are empty, thus careful selecting of the seeds is necessary.

Echinops crispus fruits and seeds

Echinops name from the Greek words ‘ekhinos’ = hedgehog, sea urchin and
‘ops’ = face, head (referring to the appearance of the inflorescences)

Friday’s Seed – Halloween edition

Anthirrhinum braun-blanquetii

Anthirrhinum braun-blanquetii capsules & seeds

The hardy snapdragon is a super easy plant to do from seeds: warm germinator and easy going seedlings. Started early it will flower in the first year, all summer long and late into fall (including right now).

Maybe I should pack some capsules and hand them out instead of candy? :) :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Seedex with Asteraceae

I’m late with preparing the seedex donations; just sent a small one to the SCRG and since the local mail doesn’t take long, I’ll pack a few more for ORG & HP Society this weekend.

It’s not easy to decide what to give; I always start to think what would be more attractive from what I have surplus, then some need more cleaning than others, and so on…Speaking of cleaning, nothing is more disappointing than receiving the wonderful little packets only to find inside ‘not so good seeds’, or just parts of them (it happened a few times).

Special attention is needed to all species in Fam. Asteraceae because by as a rule some of the seeds are always empty and it is not always easy to see which ones with the naked eye; a strong hand lens is necessary.

For example, let’s look at Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis I just prepared for ORGS & HP. This subspecies, endemic to Eastern Carpathian Mts., while bearing the same large flowers is smaller in size than the regular A. carpatica.
It is super easy to grow from seeds (warm germinator) and is a good plant for any rockery (attention when planting the grown seedlings in the garden – they need very good drainage). The seedlings shown are from a previous seed collection I did few years ago.

Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis seeds

and the non viable ‘seeds’

Anthemis carpatica ssp. pyrethriformis – non-viable seeds; when shown already separated, it seems easy to distinguish them but actually I had to use a x 40 hand lens to do it!

Another Asteraceae donated to both SRGC and ORG & HP – Jurinea mollis seeds are shown in the featured image.

Two years in a row, instead of seeds I found in the seedex packets just the pappus of a dwarf Jurinea species (from AGS Seedex).
This is how Jurinea seeds look like, with variations depending on the species and the moment when the seeds were collected (the pappus can be reduced in size or it may have fallen out).

Jurinea mollis seeds

Belated Friday’s Seed – a gift

Another belated Friday’s seeds and talk about a gift; the kind I like the most: plants and seeds :)

My Disporum uniflorum (syn. D. flavens) despite a vigorous growth had never set more than 3 seeds, just a lot of empty fruits. Obviously something’s wrong with pollination; in most cases another plant (different clone) placed nearby will do the trick. So, I am very happy I obtained one, plus some seeds !!! Next year we can hope for more.

Let’s have a look at them:

Disporum uniflorum seeds

And a picture from a few years ago, before I dug it up and divide it (shared with friends and took one with me at the new garden). It is an absolutely gorgeous plant (like all Disporums); in the fall the foliage turns yellow and contrast beautifully with the dark blue fruits.

 

Disporum uniflorum layered with Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ and Epimedium lishihchenii –  a May symphony in yellow!

 

 

Friday Seeds & germination requirements for Viburnum species

This fall I collected for the first time fruits of Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf Viburnum) and Viburnum rafinesquianum (downy arrow-wood Viburnum).

Surely, I was curious to see how the ‘seeds’ (endocarp + seed) are looking but how about their germination?
There are contradictory statements on the web; some say they first need a cold stratification, others say warm. It’s good to clarify this because I like to provide reliable info.

So, back to the books ;)

Viburnum acerifolium pits (endocarp+ seed)

Viburnum rafinesquianum pits

I like Baskin & Baskin: Seeds – Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination (2014) because besides giving results from their own experiments, there are citations of hundreds of other articles on germination (of course, in some cases things are not always clear).

And, the warm stratification is the winner!
These Viburnum spp. have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy and the germination requirements are: warm/moist stratification period, followed by a cold/moist period.
In translation, if sown in the summer they will show up the next spring; otherwise they will germinate in the second spring after sowing.

On the same list are many other Viburnum species like: alnifolium, betulifolium, cassinoides, dentatum, dilatatum, lentago, opulus, parvifolium, prunifolium….Those who don’t have access to the book can read here a very short but conclusive summary regarding Viburnum acerifolium germination:
http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1674/0003-0031%282005%29153%5B0232%3AEDIVAC%5D2.0.CO%3B2

Also another summary here:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267996605_Overview_of_seed_dormancy_in_Viburnum_Caprifoliaceae

Here they go!

Trillium grandiflorum seeds are just beginning to germinate! As well is Paris quadrifolia; I noticed the first signs last Saturday (with my x40 lens).

I snapped a few pictures when I was packing some today; they are advanced enough to be noticeable even if the pictures are not great.

Trillium grandiflorum seeds starting to germinate

 

Paris quadrifolia seeds barely showing the radicle

No matter what someone else says/writes, this is happening every year.

For these species, moist stored seeds kept at warm will always start to germinate around this time (roots only).
From all T. grandiflorum seeds, 70-80% will germinate now (roots) and then show the first leaves in the spring after a period of cold stratification. The rest will need a cold/warm cycle to go through the same cycle.

Paris quadrifolia seeds were also tested two years ago and at that time they all germinated by November (this year I only got few and were promised to someone).

On short, hurry up if you think about Trillium grandiflorum; right now I can select and send seeds that are just about to germinate (they are enlarged and lighter in colour – see the feature image).