Thursday, September 27, 2012

Riparian Riches - Part the Second


I posted last about making cuttings of western azalea, Rhododendron occidentale. I also enjoyed sampling quite a few other riparian species on that same walk down the creekside road, where neighbors said I could gather materials from their property to propagate.

I've grown Mimulus guttatus, seep monkeyflower - it practically leaps from its tiny seed it's so easy to propagate. So I thought I'd try another wetland mimulus, Mimulus moschatus, a modest and somewhat sticky little plant that known by the common name of musk monkeyflower. I haven't noticed a scent as yet though. I found it growing in a soggy area at the bottom of a steep woodland slope. Maybe some would like to live by my leaky spigot. There was even a bloom here and there - and some seeds.



And in so many places - Fat red berries of fat solomon - Maianthemum racemosum. I haven't had luck growing it before though I've tried.






OK - I'll do due diligence this time instead of plonking it in a pot and watering it. Let me see what that involves...
...

Oh gosh.

Maybe more than I bargained for.

These seeds have "double dormancy" - six months cold stratified then three months warm stratified then five months cold and germinate at 5 degrees C, then keep them at 70 degrees and .... Really??  According to this Washington State courseware, they have "deep simple double morphophysiological dormancy"... I think this means that first the seed germinates, then the root develops, then more dormancy, then the shoot develops the second spring? Seems to be:
The cotyledon pushes the radicle and small shoot bud to the outside of the seed in early summer (May or June) and a persistent root system develops during the summer. The shoot must develop to a minimum size of around 0.5 cm before epicotyl dormancy is broken by a second cold stratification. Otherwise the repeated cold temperatures will be ineffective.
I think, since they grow here natively, I just have to sow the seeds and keep them outdoors or in a "board covered cold frame" - that is in the dark. And watch what happens -
[It's] [p]ossible to conduct entire germination process, from seed sowing to plants, in a board covered cold frame outside. ... If growing outside, shoot will elongate rapidly in mid-March of the second spring after sowing. By the second May a single leaf will have appeared above the ground. ... Once germinated, seedlings need a relatively shaded area with consistently moist soil. ... Seedlings can take five or more years to bloom. Space plants 30 cm apart.
Yikes! - I just have to remember that they are there and water them. Then, I'll extend my shady bed in the pool area and grow them out. And then - try them in a shady wooded area on our north slope just down from the house, where I can irrigate some.

No wonder they don't sell these in the trade! And - btw - it's easier to propagate from rhizomes, but I don't want to dig up plants. There are not enough for me to feel comfortable doing that. After I get my seeds all growing and thriving - sounds like I'll be collecting Social Security by that time - then I can start propagating by rhizomes.

As motivation - here is how lovely these look in bloom, with their soft-looking large leaves.


I also found some big red drops hanging under the leaves of Prosartes hookeri, Hooker's fairy bell, aka Golden Drops - you can just see them in this photo. The one following shows the nice branching leaves. I can't find propagation details for this one. I think I'll put it next to the fat solomon - i.e. try to recreate natural propagation conditions - somewhat dark, and wet - and see what happens.



Then there was some Boykinia occidentalis, sometimes called Coastal brookfoam. The leaves look a bit like a Heuchera, but the flower is different - it branches out. And it needs a lot more moisture I think than Heuchera micrantha, which I'm growing already. But no special treatment for propagation. Whew!



And ooh! redtwig dogwood, Cornus sericea - What I thought were seeds last year, maturing at home from a small branch in a vase, turned out to be insect poop! Oh frass! one might say. But this year I found the real deal. Needs 3-4 months cold stratification, though fresh seeds may not need any. Here is a flower from last year and some of the attractive foliage and red twigs:



And sedges - oh I'm excited about these too. And ferns! -- But I think I've gone on quite long enough for one post. I'll save those for another time. Hope by now you are feeling bathed in that refreshingly cool, slightly spicy creekside air. Ahhh! I love it!

3 comments:

Jason said...

Is Fat Solomon the same as False Solomon Seal (Smilacena racemosa) - have the taxonomists changed the genus name?

Country Mouse said...

Yes, Jason - I don't know why, but I changed to using the other common name - I kind of like fat solomon instead of false solomon's seal. And yes - the taxonomists tinkered with the name - I haven't looked into why it's now Maianthemum and not Smilacena, just accepted their word of wisdom on this. Thanks for coming by.

sensible gardening said...

Not found in the trade... so true. Sometimes I wonder why such a great plant is not available until you discover how laborious it is to propagate. If it can't make money they won't be selling it. That's why we have to just keep growing our own.