Sowing (More) Local Native Seeds

Some construction work continues in the greenhouse - but I've moved in anyway :-D Hooray!

Last week I gathered some seed, and I looked through my messy seed collection, and decided it was about time. So here's what I sowed. This is another five-posts-in-one post. I just don't seem to be able to pace myself.

Epilobium canum - California Fuschia

Out walking Duncan, I felt very lucky to find a few late seeds of Epilobium canum. These particular plants grow on a steep bank (see above picture) that gets sun only part of the day, I think around noon, but not full afternoon sun.

A couple seedheads were completely sprung open, some fluffy seeds still left. So I know those were ripe. Some other seed pods felt hard but were not open. I think they’ll ripen. I put two pods in an envelope for later use perhaps. I planted the ripe ones, little fuzzy parachutes and all, in two-inch pots.

I know this is a fairly easy plant to propagate from seed because I grew some last year or the year before - but I didn't look after them well enough and they didn't survive where I put them. I think they dried out, and may have been in a spot that was too sunny. Some didn't get planted soon enough and they started dying off in their pots. One of that batch is surviving in a big container but it hasn't flowered. Live and learn. I'll try to do better this year.

Diplacus aurantiacus - Sticky Monkeyflower Bush.

The local wild monkeyflowers were just lovely this year (see above!) and I really hope I can get more to grow around the garden.

Last time I tried gathering monkeyflower seeds I was confused - I tried to grow seed pod husks thinking they were big seeds. Ha! The seeds themselves are actually tiny, like dust almost. I was put right by a more knowledgeable gardener. This year I kept checking them on my daily walk, and got some reasonable seeds. But many of the seed pods had been parasitized:

See the hole? In the picture below, what look like smallish pale brown seeds are some kind of larvae I think, or eggs rather. Not sure if you can see em in the photo below. Maybe if you click.

I noticed bush monkeyflower growing down in the north garden recently. That’s a first. I wonder if because it’s more open down there (since we removed the big broken bay tree). I hope can get some stands of sticky monkey going down there.

Mimulus guttatus - Seep Monkeyflower

I collected seeds from plants growing in a moist, shady ditch beside the single-track road that takes us home from the highway. The road follows a creek and makes interesting riparian plants fairly accessible.

The seed pods are papery like small lanterns and the seeds are very tiny.

Such a pretty flower - rich and buttery. The plant is low and has soft green stems and foliage, very unlike its bushy relative.

I'll put this, if it grows, in shady spots, maybe in a container near a hose spigot, as it does like to be very wet.

Eriogonum nudum - Naked Eriogonum

I also collected seeds of eriogonum nudum from the same single-track creek-side road, a little farther up. It grows up a bank, and likes good drainage.

I've been meaning to try and propagate this plant for a few years now. Not that it is very showy, but it is a local native, and there is not too much of it, so I do want to see if I can get some growing on the shadier side of the north garden (north slope down behind the house).

The individual flowers are pretty but as a plant, it would need to be massed for effect. I'm hoping I can grow it on a bank where some toyon grow.

It's hard to know if I actually got any seeds. I asked about this at a CNPS event and was advised to just crumble up the flowers, because the seeds are hard to detect. So that's what you see below - brown crumbled up flowers. Whether the seeds had all dispersed or not, I don't know.

I also mixed in some crumbled flowers I gathered earlier this year - maybe not quite ready - maybe ready enough. So between these two sets, I hope we got some seeds.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus - California Wild Lilac

I sowed one set of seeds from the tree that grows on our north slope, half of which which is surviving after being split in two a couple of winters ago. The photo above is the only one I can find of it, before the big split. The other set is from a similar tree that grows just down the road a bit from us. Both sets had been stratified for a couple of months give or take, in the fridge (stratified = fancy word for "kept cold," to simulate winter).

Below, a picture of unidentified ceanothus, with bee, to remind us of spring. It could be nursery stock such as dark star, which I have, or it could be the warty leaved ceanothus which also grows here natively - but I didn't get any seeds of that one this year.

Attentive readers may recall that I stratified a batch of ceanothus seeds earlier this year, and it started to grow a fluffy white mold while in the fridge. In fact, it was quite moldy when I took it out. So this time I microwaved the damp peat before putting them in.

I recommend checking things you stick in the back of the fridge, whether dinner left-overs or seeds. And not only for mold. One of the containers of seeds was too wet, the peat soggy, not just nicely moist. I could have poured out some excess moisture if I had checked.

Shoot. I forgot to note which one was the soggy one. Dang!!! Without keeping good records it's harder to learn anything. Anyway at least I labeled them by origin.

I'd like to propagate "our" tree before it keels over. Never seems right to me, the thought that I "own" these plants that grow here all by themselves - but still, I do somehow care about them more than the plants that grow outside our boundary line! How strange is that?

Anyway. This time, no mold - or just a touch perhaps. Maybe it was perlite.

Madia elegans - Common Madia

I’ve been saving but never sowing seeds of this very attractive Madia for a long time - finally I sowed some! I gathered a few more a few days ago, as I was out walking Duncan. It grows in an open sunny spot near some oaks and old orchard trees:

And I'm hoping it will like it in the upper part of the north garden where it's quite sunny in places.

I sowed three flats of the various small seeds, and put the rest of the seeds into two inch pots, a few seeds per. All the 2 inch pots are held fairly securely in a seed flat.

Keeping them in the greenhouse is a bit - gratuitous - but hey, I'm playing with my new toy!

All the same, I was quite glad they were out of the wind and rain - and HAIL! that we had last night. I hope I can keep them happy. I'm eagerly looking forward to at least a few germinating and making it to the garden.


Christine said…
Wow, a whirlwind of activity! If the E. nudum is anything like my E. grande rubescens, you'll have millions of tiny sprouts coming. Every bit of mulch now has kajillions of baby Eriogonums waiting to be given away to happy gardeners. (ie, someone come take my plants please!) I love the M. guttatus! So happy! And that greenhouse- can't get over how gorgeous it is!
Anonymous said…
The greenhouse looks like it's getting excellent use! Thank you for the very handy lesson on extracting seeds from my monkeyflowers and buckwheats and tarweeds - I should get started on that, now that I know how! Generally when plants don't produce obvious, visible seeds, I've just left them to their own devices and hoped they would self-sow.
Country Mouse said…
I'm looking forward to millions of tiny sprouts for sure, Christine. Glad you got some value from the post, QBC. For the tiny seeds that were easy to extract, I mix em with sand - you prob know that trick right? and then scatter the sand/seed mix. Happy planting!
I also use the sand trick - but I've been known to use sugar when there wasn't any sand handy, just in case anyone else is caught in the same bind.

Beautiful photos of the seeds and their plants, and thanks for identifying that sticky monkeyflower blight; I've seen it.

The Epilobium I have seen were growing in semi-shade. M. guttatus grows in standing water here, and seems to flower more with more sun.

I'm envious of your greenhouse and really impressed by all your native plantings - looking forward to seeing their progress.