It is that time! Plants that bloomed earlier now have ripe seed pods. My bed of MOSS ROSES along the front fence is still bright with blooms but the earlier ones are ripe and opening. Each summer for the last few years I have had a multicolored bed of 12 inch tall, very thick blooms. The pods open as soon as dry with dozens of tiny black seeds scattering. Anyone who wants a start can just scrape them off and scatter seeds on top of their new bed and wait for spring. If you want to keep to plant later they can be put in a container with a loose lid to finish drying. Too much moisture during the long winter is not good!

          CONEFLOWERS have bigger seeds that will soon be ripe for the pods to open. I generally let them do so as the birds need the food but they will not get all of them. A new group of perennials will be up next spring with a wide color range. They will not all be just what you planted.

          A seed is a complete plant in embryo, but dormant. There is a great difference in length of life. Some may take up to 3 years to germinate (Paeoni). Most germinate in the year after forming. The COSMOS in my front yard shed seeds earlier and the new plants are 6 inches high in August. The seeds with hard coats take longer unless you do some treatment. When you receive a packet check the requirements: (1) Quite often it says soak for 24 hours at room temperature. (2) Sometimes it may say to nick the seed to let moisture in. (3) It may say to use a fine file (fingernail will do) to score the outside coat. (4) Sometimes with berries you can put them in moist soil and stir in to get the coat rotted off and then plant as usual. 

          Some seeds will not grow unless it is frosted but you can put them in the freezer over winter. Our Nebraska soil generally freezes several times but down South it may not. Other seeds will not germinate unless they reach a certain warmth. Read the directions on the packet!! In early spring some will need extra heat to wake them up.

          You need to know if the seeds you plant are acid or alkaline soil lovers. And desert plants like sandy nearly dry soil. Bog or water lovers like lots of sphagnum moss to keep the soil damp.     

          Seeds are usually covered by soil about the same depth as the mother plant. Some can be tossed on top which I do with my annual poppies, cosmos, and other small seeds. If my soil seems to be hard on top I run a rake over once so the seed can get a good rooting area. If I start them in pots ahead of time I do not pour water on top which could bury some, especially very small seeds, but I put the pot in a big container with several inches of water and give it several hours for the water to work its way up. Thus you do not bury the seed.

          For larger seeds I make a row with a hoe. I then cover the seeds with soil the depth the seed is thick. This is an important time in the life of a plant so soil should not be too dry, too wet, too deep or too cold. The soil should be firm around the seed to enable its roots to get started. I walk on the ones I just throw on top.  If I made a row for them I pat them carefully with the hoe, making sure the soil is not wet as I do not want to trap them in the ground with a crust on top. Putting some potting soil on top will help if you are dealing with heavy clay soil.

Copyright 2016