Growing Castilleja affinis, paintbrush, from seed -- part II

I wrote last November about my experiment to grow paintbrush - Castilleja affinis ssp. affinis - the species of paintbrush that grows wild close to where I live - about 3/4 mile from my house.

So I got a little local wild seed,

And hey! quite a lot grew!

I paired the seedlings with various perennial plants out in the garden (see earlier post) and also tried a couple in a pot. But I really want it to make a home and spread on my 3 acres, all by itself.

So how's it going?

As Pete Veilleux suggested it would in a FB conversation, paintbrush did do very well in a pot with other plants. Here it is, happily flowering with coyote mint and a bunch grass and probably something else I forget about.

I'm looking forward to gathering seeds from these potted plants, and a few from wild too, for the sake of gene pool diversity.

What's happening in the moister sloping north-facing areas of my garden

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing -- Oh be still my beating heart! I was so excited when I saw this little splash of color on the north facing yet fairly sunny hillside behind our home!! ...

And a little more color farther along. Maybe three plants are in bloom, here and there.

And some are trying to make up their minds about it, maybe too shaded to be more robust.

What's happening in the sunny south-facing flat areas of my garden

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nope. On the open and south sides - the paintbrush seedlings are quite tentative about growing up even a little bit (those I can find at all).

I think there could be two problems - one, it's getting pretty overcrowded in those beds with sagebrush growing marvelously and the paintbrush seedlings in their shadow may not have gotten enough light. And two - the seedlings that did get enough light probably dried out. Even though we had a lot of rain, we've also had a few hot spells, enough to kill off a seedling that wasn't carefully tended. These beds dry out really fast.

But this little guy looks quite perky all the same - maybe there's hope yet ...

What Pairings Worked or Didn't Work? Sorry - not sure!

I'm not sure I can say with any certainty what the young plants have paired or not paired with (they are hemiparasitical, and you can read more about that in the earlier post). If I had more devotion to the question, I might get more scientific about it and maybe at some future date I'll document and so on more carefully.

I can say that not being near the roots of something meant the seedlings never grew beyond tiny seedling stage, though they hung on for a good long time. I think there may even still be one in the seed tray.

C. affinis or C. foliolosa?

Finally, just want to mention - I have been having some plant ID qualms (for which I take two aspirin and water the garden).  But I'm pretty sure mine are not Castilleja foliolosa - wooly paintbrush - whose photos you can see next. I took these photos at Bonny Doon ecological preserve, a dryer and sandier spot than where I live.

As you can maybe see, the foliage is whitish and definitely wooly. Whereas C. affinis ssp. affinis is greener and less felty.

However,  I'm going on gestalt rather than Jepson details. You can have a go if you want - the key is available here. Prepare to feel "exserted!"  -- and other challenging botanical things!


Andy Moskowitz said…
Wow, big congrats. Wishing profound prosperity for your paintbrush population. Next owl clover?
Country Mouse said…
Thanks, Andy. Haven't seen owl clover around here. We're mostly wooded and some chaparral. Though there is a bit of a meadow on some land that's for sale not too far off.... I'll have to check up there!
diana said…
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