Seeds and cuttings and bulbs and rhizomes - Oh my!

I am so busy in the garden these days, I hardly have time to blog. Yesterday I planted the penstemons I propagated from seed, and one of the Eriogonum giganteum I acquired from the propagation group as a baby and grew bigger. I'm thinking where to put the other five of those. They are stunning with huge white plates of tiny white flowers, and quite large - maybe 4 feet.

Earlier this month I prepared many of the seeds I gathered locally and sowed them in flats that I put in the duct tape and plastic greenhouse. Various lupines and others. The numbers are from my tracking system (a table in MS Word):
15 Unknown slender wildflower
16 Iris:

17 Triteleia laxa, Ithuriel’s Spear (not locally gathered but could be here):

Seems many of the Triteleia and Brodiaea (which may be the same thing with different names) look like the above.

18 Lupine with Big pod smallish seeds may be immature:

19 DOA - Lupine with pods and no seeds that could be separated.

20 Albifrons? - Had nice hard black seeds and you can see the pod had twisted open, indicating readiness. Yes. A learning process indeed. Next year I probably won't gather lupine seeds before their time.

21 Small lupines Dirt Road
22 Small lupines Dirt Road
23 Small annual lupines near corral

The above small lupines may all be the same or may not. I'll see if anything comes up. Their pods were not really ripe for picking I think so I don't have high hopes.

The lupines all had to be soaked in hot water, poured on at between 180 and 210 degrees F, and left overnight. I prepared carefully:

But after all that, I'm not sure my water was actually hot enough. I should have prewarmed the glass jug. I was tired and instead of reheating the water I just figured it was good enuf. I put each collection of seeds in separate containers with their labels overnight. Next year I'll do better.

Next year I'll also try to do better at recording what I've gathered, and pay attention to what seeds can be stored, and what have to be sowed when gathered.

Anyway, here are the flats in their happy home:

I also put a few things in the fridge to "stratify." Can anybody tell me why we call putting things in the cold for some time "stratification?" I mean strata means layers - I don't get the connection. They are Lonicera hispidula, hairy honeysuckle, 1 month, Disporum hookeri, Hooker's fairy bells, 3 months, and Holodiscus discolor, 4-5 months:

This is admittedly not a colorful blog post. But smooshing the honeysuckle berries to separate out the seeds was an interestingly colorful and slimy experience. They seemed like some exotic spice you might cook with:

BTW of the cuttings I did in September, many look decidedly dead. Thimbleberry and Hazel in particular. Some look alive-ish. I wiggled one or two and no roots. At some point when I need the space I'll ditch the dead ones.

Propagation Group
I haven't talked at all about the Fall native plant sale that was the pinnacle of the season's work at the CNPS propagation group. A joyful day indeed. Today the propagation group met again, and we were busy preparing for the spring sale.

I helped to plant the small bulbs of various triteleia species, Triteleia peduncularis, and Brodiaea elegans and others. Another group was dividing various Iris. I learned that it is better to get the roots in the soil and not the leaves and stems, rather than planting so the stems and leaves are upright.

Another group was potting-on cuttings - I'm not sure what of. But I did observe part of the process of preparing rhizomes of Dicentra formosa, Western Bleeding Heart. We were shown how to cut the underground stems so there are two nodes, one at each end, and to put two cuttings in a gallon pot, horizontally.

We volunteers get to take home extra plant material. (And old seed flats and pots that are in the nursery's dumpster!! - Whoo-hoo, bonus!)

So I now have about 18 gallon-size pots with rhizomes of Dicentra formosa. I'm very excited. I hope they'll be successful and I'll have some to give to my daughter for Christmas - they like shade and plenty water, and she and her husband live in a little house in almost total shade under redwoods.

But at propagation group today I missed the part about how deeply to cover them, and quick research in my library and online hasn't given me the answer. Impatient to get on, I put them maybe an inch down at most. It's probably either too deep or not deep enough! - Maybe an alert reader can provide that info.

Then I read on the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens web site that they plant the rhizome cuttings vertically, with the "eye" just below the surface. So I guess there are different ways to go.

I also potted almost a full flat of 3 inch pots of left-over bulbs of Alium unifolium, which has a pretty blue flower. The bulbs are like tiny onions, which they are.

Just for fun, I sprinkled some seeds of Triteleia peduncularis, Long-rayed Brodiaea, whose bulbs we were planting today at propagation, into a seed flat. Bulbs are the way to go with these plants, as seeds take several years to get to the mature flower and bulb-forming plant stage. But the seeds are so pretty, black little nuggets and I'm just curious.

So much done and so much more still to do! Fall is a busy time in the California native plant garden, to be sure.


Nell Jean said…
I like looking at seeds and pods. Nice post.
Very informative post. I hope you have lots of seedlings in your flats.
You are busy! So many seeds! Good luck!
Town Mouse said…
I'm so impressed! I must admit that with a day job that requires precision and thought, I like to let my artistic and chaotic side reign in the garden... Fortunately, there are nurseries standing by to help me. A fall planting post is in the not too distant future...
Christine said…
Wow, it's like alchemy! Although I'm sure your lupines will do Ok- they don't have the luxury of candy thermometers out in nature!
Town Mouse said…
Interestingly, I poured boiling water over my lupine seeds last year, and they did grow tall enough to make a nice meal for whatever was eating them (I've never had anything consumed like lupines in my garden...). Will be interesting how the lower temp/longer duration will do in the Country Mouse lab.