Thursday, August 25, 2016

Propagation Porn

Yes, every now and then I like to throw a little sex into our native plant blog. Plant sex that is. And not just any plant sex - WILD plant sex!! Yes -- that's what gets my plant juices flowing! Yours too? How did I guess! Read on....

(And don't miss the bottom (snicker) of this post for a Santa Cruz event Sept 12 2016.)

It's not just the coy flowers, here seen peeking through the poison oak, that pique our prurient interest.

Dudleya lanceolata blossoms peeking through poison oak.
There are many species in the Dudleya genus. All are known as liveforevers.

It's what follows...

Boudoir picture of Dudleya Lanceolata seed heads.
(lying languorously in my plastic collection bag)
Seeds themselves are tiny. I crumbled up the seedheads and removed the big bits of chaff. 

And what followed that -- GERMINATION! Especially outrageous germination rates like this!

I did nothing special - just sowed into a mix with some sand, sowed crumbled up seed heads, sprinkled a little sand on top to settle them in (not like a whole layer even) and - voila! Within a couple or three weeks there they were!

And what fabulous grow-out rates - look at these wonderful plants...

Dudleya lanceolata mostly in 2" pots! Note the long lanceolate leaves.
I hadn't noticed how tight-packed they had become - so I spread them out to give their leaves room to grow to the natural shape. (BTW the huge leaf overarching isn't a monster dudleya - it's some kind of huge aloe I planted long ago.)

Now - look at these Dudleya, from the same seed source. Quite a bit different!

Some of these miscellaneous ones are growing in odd shapes - maybe because of overcrowding.
This photo shows them after I spaced them out yesterday.

But wait - there's more (and another tray that's half full besides!) These will be potted up in the next couple of days.

I have planted some out in the garden already. The ones I planted in shade to semi-shaded areas are doing the best so far. (When it comes time to flower, I bet the ones in the shade don't do as well as the semi-shade ones - it'll be interesting to see).

Soon after planting. They are bigger now.

This one is one of the broader leaf sorts. It's in a wheelbarrow with a sedge and a paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) which has since bloomed.

Here's a photo of that assemblage I took today, showing the Castilleja in bloom!

They love container life! Look how different the left and right one look. Also how they are growing those deformed looking leaves. Both are a bit broader than the very lanceolate ones that are more common.

Here are the mature (parent) plants,  Dudleya lanceolata in the wild, just down the road from me

The local Dudleya lanceolata plants I gathered from were on a steep road-cut which gets quite a bit of shade.

Here you can see two leaf forms - upper plant broader than the D. lanceolata I mostly saw. It's a mystery!

Regarding the variation in leaf shape... Most are indisputably Dudleya lanceolata, but others have a broader blade. They could possibly be hybrids of D. palmeri or D cymosa, based on observing the broader-leaved species in this query to Calflora that shows all native Dudleya spp. growing in Santa Cruz County. Or, since Dudleya are famously happy to mate with other species in their genus -- they could be hybrids of some exotic Dudleya planted in a nearby garden, I don't know if I can ever be sure. Or they may be examples of other species, and not hybrids. I'll have to wait for some flowers to provide more information that may be diagnostic.

Regarding the plants that grew up weird (Well they say, "Keep Santa Cruz Weird!"),* some seem to grow naturally with their leaves crumpled or twisted or rumpled. But then too, as I worked yesterday I realized I had to space them out more because they were all growing into each other and possibly deforming each other's growth.

In fall, I'll plant out a whole ton more, and in the meanwhile, I'll be sharing these with my neighbors so our local Dudleya lanceolata can thrive locally!

Oh - local readers -- I nearly forgot!!

 On September 12 2016, at 7:30 pm, in the meeting hall of UCSC Arboretum -- Stephen McCabe will be addressing our local chapter with a slide show and talk entitled, "Conservation of Liveforevers: Threats and New Species. Stephen wrote the Jepson section on Dudleyas and is the Emeritus Director of Research at UCSC Arboretum. And he's a really nice chap. If you're around - do come for a good talk. Who knows, maybe I'll bring some dudleyas to give away!

See our CNPS chapter Events page before Sept 12 for more details (the link always takes you to the current event).

*I just love it when I get so many punctuation marks in a row!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Seed Season, Rest Season

Later summer is a restful time for California native plant gardeners. Many plants have done their work -- flowers pollinated, seeds set -- and are taking their own break. Like the Clarkia rubicunda I made a banner out of for this post.

Yes, 'tis the season when we smirk say to our color-loving garden friends, "Brown is a color too, you know."

Flowers of naked buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum, gently browning

Mr. Woodrat helped me harvest the top halves of the dried-up Clarkia plants. Their seeds are exploding like sparks out of a riverboat funnel. Well, in my imagination anyway.

I can't wait to run my fingers through the silky seeds hiding in here!

I've spent some hours going through my seeds, those I collected this year as well as in prior years. This year, instead of sowing into seed flats -- which always encourages me to sow way too many seeds even if I do subdivide them -- I'm using 3" and 4" pots to start the seeds.

This is a good start! Shade loving plants on the right, sun on the left.

I'm growing several species, maybe 40 or more by the time I'm done. I'll talk about which ones in another post or two.

I'll also be putting some seeds in the fridge to "stratify" before sowing. Mostly shrubs. I'm debating whether to hold off on the shrubs (so they'll be ready to sow around March 2017) or just stick 'em all in the fridge now. I hate to wait!

I'm happy to say some of the plants I'm growing may take root in the native garden at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, and its nearby Pilkington Creek restoration, as well as at Jikoji Zen Center up on Skyline Blvd. I'll grow to share.

But even now -- thanks in part to a mild August (mild until today, that is) -- California wild fuchsia, goldenrod, and even some Clarkia rubicunda are continuing to bloom in shady nooks and somewhat irrigated parts of the garden...