California Native Plant Seedlings!

First my blurb and then the seedling photos - you can skip down to the photos. I won't mind!

I blogged about sowing the seeds here. This is the first follow up post.

The first leaves to pop up are the seed leaves, aka cotyledons. Different species may look similar at this stage, and the seedlings live off of the food stored in those thick, rounded leaves.

That's why you can sow seeds in pure perlite, or on blotting paper wrapped around the inside of a jar. Did you grow beans like that in primary school?

A recommended mix for germinating seeds is a third perlite, a third vermiculite, and a third peat (or sustainable peat substitute). There are no nutrients in this mix. It's designed to hold water and create space for air to circulate.

This time I've been using various combinations of perlite, sand, vermiculite, and a bit of potting soil (to avoid using peat which is not a sustainable product).

Also, I wonder if adding a bit of potting soil means the seeds can survive in the seed trays a bit longer -- until I get around to pricking them out. That's my theory anyway. I just made it up.  It's a convenient theory, I must say.

You can prick them out (transplant them into small pots) after seedlings grow their first true leaves.

Only after seedlings grow roots and true leaves do they take over the work of the cotyledons; make their own food using sunlight air, water, and other stuff in the soil.

At this point I get all overcomplicated. I put more sand in the chaparral type species' mixes and more potting soil in the woodland ones, and stuff like that. All kind of on the spur of the moment. Pay me no heed!

Glenn Keator, expert botanist and well known teacher and author, says you can just use regular old potting soil for about any kind of seedling. (I may be misquoting him in the interests of my peace of mind!) So I figure -- the specific mix may not make that much difference at first. Seedlings are little powerhouses of growth!

I try not to keep them too soggy though. Nor do I let them get too dry or hot. It's a fine balance.

Once the true leaves appear, the different species seedlings start to look more like their mommies and daddies. Or - at least you can see the family resemblance.

So this post has a photo gallery of different kinds of seedlings that have germinated in the last three weeks in my greenhouse. They are all locally native plants grown from local wild seed.

It's kind of an open air greenhouse - gives protection from wind and predators and I can put shade cloth up or down etc to control the environment.

California natives can be very easily propagated out of doors - you just need netting to protect from critters, and some protection from extremes of weather - strong sun, heavy rain, wind, frost etc.

Not everything in my greenhouse has germinated. Carex species have not. Iris has not. A few other things. I did check in Dara Emery whether they needed refrigeration ("stratification") to mimic winter before they would germinate - that seems to be mostly the shrubs. I'm growing almost all perennials.

But many things germinated within five days to two weeks. These photos are all from yesterday or today - October 19-20, 2015. I sowed them between September 24-26.

Aquilegia formosa seedlings - western columbine. Still showing only seed leaves (cotyledons). I think these were late to germinate compared to some others. They have small seeds but not that small. Shiny black pretty seeds.

Artemisia douglasiana seedlings, California mugwort, in need of pricking out! Fast growers - tiny seeds too so there goes my current theory about having to spend time growing cotyledons. I'm full of bogus theories I guess. 

Dudleya lanceolata (or possibly D. caespitosa) seedlings. Cotyledons only, it seems. 
They've been sitting around looking like this for many days now. Their seeds are so tiny, I think they must have to get food from somewhere to make seed leaves!

Epilobium canum seedlings. Two sources: one closer to home, one a little bit farther off -- as the crow flies, about a mile from here or two at most. Rodeo Gulch is its own tiny watershed, leading to Corcoran lagoon in Santa Cruz (tidbit for locals). But a bird could totally fly a seed to my place from the top of the gulch where I shamelessly collected these seeds, before the county road crew scalped the road bank. The Rodeo Gulch seedlings are bigger and have advanced more quickly than my local seedlings (shown in the row on the left). Interesting eh?

All seedlings in this tray are Heuchera micrantha seedlings, as far as I know.  But the ones from the plant I call "Big Pink" -- because the inflorescences were so marvelously large compared to the others I grew from local seed, and attractively pinker -- germinated super-enthusiastically (you can see the section behind, which is also H. micrantha is more sparsely populated.) It is possible that Big Pink is really some other kind of Heuchera, and I'll have to do a bit of keying out when they get bigger. 

Another view of "big pink" (see caption for photo above for details).
I said I wouldn't do this - and I still did it - I sowed way too many seeds! I need about two square inches out of this lot!
Although they germinated with great success rate, they have stayed small subsequently. Like the Dudleya.
Heuchera micrantha seeds are also very tiny so I think they must also have to do a bit of growing of the seed leaves before they can put out true leaves maybe? Good question for a professional propagator. Fortunately I'm going on a class this Saturday, with Town Mouse -- who happily for me is back at home!

Juncus patens seedlings, probably. There are a few Juncus species it might be but most likely it's J. patens. Jepson is going to get well used this year I can tell. Also - Another case of too many seedlings! 

Juncus xiphioides, iris leaved rush. Just a three inch pot but still - way too many seedlings! These are a wetland rush and I just grew them for curiosity - I only have so much room around my hose spigots for wetland plants! 

Lathyrus vestitis, Pacific pea. My first time to propagate this plant and I hope it will sprawl happily on the north slope below our house. Not enough seedlings!!

A veritable forest of Lupinus arboreus seedlings! Bush lupine, the lavender one not the yellow one. Again, way too many! but - would be fun to have a whole bunch growing in a massive patch in the North garden!

Lupinus bicolor seedling, a small annual lupine. Only one or two have germinated.  Maybe they prefer to germinate in early spring, being annuals.

Lupinus hirsutissimus seedling, stinging lupine. Not commonly used in gardens ;-)
You can see how hirsute it is already! Grows occasionally on our chaparral slope and this is the first time I have grown a seedling! Again, just one has germinated from a section of about I don't know 20 seeds? More? 

Monardella villosa (coyote mint) seedlings were very fast to germinate. Coyote mint is a plant I'm hoping to grow as much of as my garden will hold! It's pretty and it's a great butterfly plant. This is my first time to grow a lot from seed. A lot too much I confess.

Monardella villosa seedling close up. I have pricked a bunch of these out of the tray - maybe three square inches worth provided all the plants I can possibly use!

Mystery Asteraceae plant. I'll let you know what it is when I find out. Seeds were gathered along the edge of a shady creekside road. I pricked out another little pot full of seedlings, but they look a bit sad, so I think I'll leave these where they are happy and maybe just weed out the extras.

Stachys Bullata, hedge nettle - a kind of mint, not nettle. First time for me to grow this one too. Only a few have germinated so far.
I'm going to try sowing more seeds of the reluctant germinators in spring.

Stipa pulchra, purple needlegrass, our state grass. Another first for me as far as propagation. Couldn't believe when I found a stand of them growing close by, where I could gather them! I planted three or four to a cell. Cells are about four inches deep. I hope to plant direct from here to the ground when they're ready.

Stipa cernua, nodding needlegrass, and Stipa lepida, foothill needlegrass, both of which grow wild on my property and around the neighborhood. I've grown these for some years and their survival is patchy. I'm hoping to replace a lot of the annual Mediterranean grasses in the last large section to be worked on with bunch grasses and iris and other plantings (over time).

It's all amazing, isn't it? It's really like having new babies out there - they change day to day.

I'm not done sowing yet - but I may run out of time for some things I'd like to try. Well, time will tell.


Diana Studer said…
mystery might be hawkweed?
Country Mouse said…
Could be - something in that general vicinity. others have suggested Hypochaeris radical or H. glabra. Weedy it does seem - growing as fast as it has. We shall see! And then we shall likely pull and destroy!