Seed Heads

I’ve had these seed heads on my desk since the summer. I collected them while working in various gardens. The first seed is Clematis pitcheri, commonly called purple clematis, purple leatherflower, or bluebill. Here’s a link to photos of the lovely nodding purple flowers. This clematis is a climbing, twining vine that begins with purple flowers that turn into fluffy Dr. Seuss-looking puffs and then into these stunning seed heads. The star shaped head is fragile, with the individual paddle-shaped seeds breaking off the stem.

The second seed head is from the Hibiscus dasycalyx, or the Netches River Rosemallow. It is a hibiscus that is native to Texas, and is protected because it is only found wild in 3 places along the Netches River. It has beautiful white flowers with red centers. You can see photos here. It grows in wet conditions. The seeds are sweet fuzzy teddy bears and I’m officially scared of screwing up their propagation.

I also saved some Asclepias purpurascens that I’ve put in the fridge to stratify. They are over year old, so I’m not too hopeful. Reference pictures here. I love milkweeds and always try to propagate and distribute them to fellow gardeners.

Is it obvious that I’m dreaming of Spring?

Oodles of Milkweed 

    

If you were following me around last summer you might have seen me reach into various gardens and swipe some milkweed seed pods. You might also have seen a mortified 10 year old girl with me. Poor kid. She didn’t get a normal mom. 

After taking a propagation class this winter, I was inspired to set up my lights and heat mat at home. While the Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) and the Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) sprouted easily, the Asclepias purpurea end (purple milkweed) did nothing. 

I moved the tiny seedlings out of their initial trays into roomier pots I made out of newspaper. These are easy to make (I guess a tutorial is in order) and are great because you can plant them directly into the soil. 

I have enough of these guys to have a mini plant sale. Anyone interested in some native plants that are the host plant of the monarch butterfly?

Plant Propagation

(null)My latest class towards my horticulture certificate is plant propagation. We are learning many different ways to grow new plants from existing ones. In addition to the lecture portion, we have hand’s on work in the greenhouse.

We have learned about the different growing requirements for seeds. We’ve made leaf and stem cuttings. And last week we learned about grafting branches and buds onto different plants called rootstock.

Besides all of the great information, I’ve been able to pick some fun plants from the greenhouse at the Brooklyn Botanic garden (aka school) to bring home to propagate. I have many different succulents, a couple of geraniums, African violets, begonias and a dogwood.

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The class has inspired me to set up my grow light and heating mat again. I mist the little cuttings several times a day while they are trying to establish roots. My setup is big enough that I’ve put some other plants under the lights. Already my pitcher plants and Venus fly trap look much happier.
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