Only January, Yet Already Time to Sow Seeds?

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20180103 ENG worldartsme.com, rdkate.blogspot.ca & mzayat.com.jpg

It’s only January! Surely it’s too soon to sow seeds? Source: worldartsme.com, rdkate.blogspot.ca & mzayat. com

The new year has barely begun, yet now and over the coming month it’s already time to start certain seeds indoors.

This is a very select group of especially slow-to-mature plants. January is far too early for most seeds (think March or April instead), but you need about four to five months of indoor culture to bring the following plants to the right state of growth for outdoor planting.

  1. Agastache (Agastache foeniculum)
  2. Datura (Datura metel)
  3. Fairy Snapdragon (Chaenorrhinum origanifolium, syn. glaerosum)
  4. Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora)
  5. Spike dracaena or cabbage palm (Cordyline australis, syn. indivisa)
  6. Tritome (Kniphofia )
  7. Tuberous Begonia (Begonia × tuberhybrida)

No Easy Feat!

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Artificial light is almost essential for seeds started in January. Source: laidbackgardener. blog

Starting seed in January in the Northern Hemisphere is not simple. The days are short, the sun is weak and, in many areas, the weather is gray more often than sunny, meaning light is seriously lacking. Also, temperatures in front of the average windowsill are cool, yet almost all seeds need warmth—and fairly even temperatures—to germinate well. As a result, you pretty much have to start these under artificial lights, such as fluorescent or LED plant lights, and in the warmest part of your home.

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Germinate the seedlings under glass, possibly over a heating pad, as above. Source: www.amazon.fr

Always start winter-sown seeds “under glass” (under some sort of transparent covering) to maintain high humidity and stable temperatures and in a room that is at least moderately warm (72 to 75˚ F/21 to 24˚ C) or place the seed containers on a heating pad (one specifically designed for plants). Use a timer to set the day length of your lamp at 14 hours to simulate the long days of summer and place the containers of freshly sown seeds about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) below the lamp. Now, wait patiently for germination to occur. (One reason that certain seeds need early sowing is that they are slow to germinate.)

Seeds That Require a Cold Treatment

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Many tree, shrub and perennial seeds need a cold treatment before they will germinate. Source: laidbackgardener. blog

January (or December or February) is also a good time to start seeds that need a cold treatment (cold stratification) to germinate well. This group includes most trees and shrubs from cold and temperate climates, but also many perennials and even a few annuals.

These seeds will not germinate until they have received a given number of days of cool, moist conditions, from as little as one or two weeks to four months or more, information you would (hopefully) find on the seed pack.

The number of weeks given is the minimum requirement for that species, but there is no maximum. So, if you keep seeds that need, say, a two-week treatment in the cold for two months, that’s not a problem. That’s nice to know, because the information on the minimum cold treatment for seed X is not always available, especially for seed you harvested yourself. If you don’t know, I suggest giving seeds of perennials a six to eight-week cold treatment: that’s usually enough. For trees and shrubs, I’d recommend three months.

Simply sow these seeds in a container as you would any other, then seal them inside a clear plastic bag and pop them into the refrigerator or cold room for at least the minimum number of weeks. Afterwards, move them to a warm, well-lit spot, on a windowsill or under lights, for germination to start.

100 Seeds That Need a Cold Treatment

Here are 100 plants that germinate best with a cold treatment (there are thousands of others!). Check the seed envelope or the seed supplier’s web site for more information.

  1. Abies (fir)
  2. Acer (maple, mosts species)
  3. Aconitum (aconite)
  4. Alchemilla (lady’s mantle)
  5. Allium (ornemental onion)
  6. Amelanchier (serviceberry)
  7. Aquilegia (columbine)
  8. Asclepias (milkweed, some species)
  9. Astrantia (masterwort)
  10. Baptisia (false indigo)
  11. Buddleia (butterfly bush)
  12. Caltha (marsh marigold)
  13. Caryopteris (bluebeard)
  14. Cercis canadensis (redbud)
  15. Chelone (turtlehead)
  16. Cimicifuga (bugbane)
  17. Clematis (clematis)
  18. Cornus (dogwood)
  19. Corydalis (fumitory)
  20. Delphinium (delphinium)
  21. Dicentra spectabilis, now Lamprocapnos spectabilis (bleeding heart)
  22. Dictamnus (gas plant)
  23. Dodecatheon (shooting star)
  24. Echinacea (purple coneflower)
  25. Eremurus (foxtail lily)
  26. Eryngium (sea holly)
  27. Eupatorium (Joe Pye weed)
  28. Filipendula (meadowsweet)
  29. Forsythia (forsythia)
  30. Fragaria (strawberry)
  31. Fuchsia (fuchsia)
  32. Gentiana (gentian)
  33. Geranium (perennial geranium, cranesbill)
  34. Goniolimon (German statice)
  35. Helianthemum (rock rose)
  36. Helianthus (perennial sunflower)
  37. Heliopsis (false sunflower)
  38. Helleborus (Christmas rose)
  39. Hemerocallis (daylily)
  40. Heuchera (coral bells)
  41. Hibiscus moscheutos (perennial hibiscus)
  42. Hypericum (St. John’s wort)
  43. Iberis (perennial candytuft)
  44. Ilex* (holly)
  45. Incarvillea (hardy gloxinia)
  46. Iris (iris, many species)
  47. Kirengeshoma (waxbells)
  48. Knautia (knautia)
  49. Lathyrus (perennial sweet pea)
  50. Lavandula (lavender)
  51. Leontopodium (edelweiss)
  52. Lobelia (hardy lobelia)
  53. Lonicera (honeysuckle)
  54. Macleaya (plume poppy)
  55. Magnolia* (magnolia)
  56. Malus (apple, crabapple)
  57. Mazus (creeping mazus)
  58. Mertensia (Virginia bluebells)
  59. Muscari (grape hyacinth)
  60. Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicely)
  61. Nepeta (catmint)
  62. Oenothera (evening Primrose)
  63. Opuntia* (beavertail cactus)
  64. Paeonia* (pivoine)
  65. Penstemon (beard-tongue)
  66. Persicaria (fleeceflower)
  67. Persicaria orientalis, syn. Polygonum orientale (kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate)
  68. Phlox (phlox)
  69. Physalis (Chinese lantern)
  70. Picea (spruce)
  71. Platycodon (balloon flower)
  72. Primula (primrose)
  73. Pulsatilla (pasque flower)
  74. Quercus (red and black oaks)
  75. Ranunculus (buttercup)
  76. Ratibida (prairie coneflower)
  77. Rosa (rose)
  78. Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)
  79. Sambucus (elderberry)
  80. Sanguinaria (bloodroot)
  81. Sanguisorba (burnet)
  82. Saponaria (soapwort)
  83. Saxifraga (saxifrage)
  84. Scabiosa (pincushion flower)
  85. Sedum (stonecrop)
  86. Sempervivum (houseleek)
  87. Sidalcea (prairie mallow)
  88. Staphylea* (bladdernut)
  89. Stokesia (Stokes’ aster)
  90. Syringa (lilac)
  91. Thalictrum (meadow-rue)
  92. Tiarella (foamflower)
  93. Tricyrtis (toad-lily)
  94. Trillium* (trillium)
  95. Trollius (globeflower)
  96. Tsuga (hemlock)
  97. Vernonia (ironweed)
  98. Veronica (speedwell)
  99. Viola (violets)
  100. Vitis (grape, some species)
*Some species in this genus require a double cold stratification: that is, two cold treatments separated by warm one, to germinate well. Try two to three months of cold followed by two months of warmth, then again two to three months of cold. When you expose them to warmth after these repeated treatments, most will germinate quite readily.

Good growing!20180103 ENG worldartsme.com, rdkate.blogspot.ca & mzayat.com.jpg

Head in the Sun, Feet in the Shade

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20150626AYou’ll often hear said about clematis (Clematis spp.) that they like having their head in the sun and their feet in the shade. That isn’t quite true, though. They really don’t mind if if their roots are exposed to sun per se. What they don’t like is dry soil, nor do they appreciate extreme heat. And logically speaking, soil constantly exposed to blazing sun will likely dry out faster and be hotter than soil that is shaded. If the soil in your garden is naturally moist, or if you water when the soil starts to dry out, it will keep your clematis roots both well watered and fairly cool and, under those circumstances, you can certainly grow clematis with their root zone in full sun.

Still, in many if not most circumstances, it is worthwhile providing some shade for the roots. One can for example follow the most common recommendation for clematis care and plant annuals, perennials, small shrubs or other plants with dense foliage so they cover the root zone. However, these plants will also want their share of the soil’s moisture and will also compete for nutrients. That’s why it is often even easier just to mulch the ground at base of your clematis.

20150626BIn fact, if ever there is a plant that loves mulch, it’s clematis. First, under a mulch, the soil is always cooler, to the delight of your clematis during spells of brutally hot weather. Moreover, since it prefers soil that is always slightly moist but never soggy, mulch, with its ability to reduce evaporation in dry weather, yet to act like a sponge and absorb excess moisture in damp weather, gives you just the helping hand you need. Last but not the least, the roots of clematis are fragile and dislike disturbance… and using mulch eliminates weeds and therefore the need to cultivate, thus leaving the root system undisturbed.

Cover the ground at the foot of your clematis with 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) of shredded leaves, rameal chipped wood, forest mulch or some other rich mulch and you’ll see: your clematis will be more vigorous than ever! However, avoid “red cedar mulch” (actually arborvitae chips stained orange). This mulch is slightly toxic to most plants and therefore not suitable for delicate plants like clematis.

Easy Clematis for Laidback Gardeners

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Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ is one of the tough ones that anyone can grow.

Clematis have the reputation of being capricious… and there’s a lot of truth to that. Sometimes one will grow beautifully while its neighbor, even if it is the same cultivar, languishes and a third out-and-out dies. Yet the conditions are strictly identical! It’s enough to make you want to pull out your hair in frustration!

One way to avoid this problem is to plant varieties of clematis that are known for being easy to grow. The following list (not exhaustive by any means) gives you some suggestions of low-maintenance clematis that really will give good results almost every time:

Clematis alpina and its cultivars (‘Columbine’, ‘Francis Rivis’, ‘Jacqueline du Pré’, ‘Ruby’, etc.) zone 3
C. ‘Arabella’ zone 5
C. 
‘Betty Corning’ zone 4
C. 
‘Countess of Lovelace’ zone 3
C. 
‘Elsa Spath’ zone 3
C. 
‘Ernest Markham’ zone 4
C. 
‘Gipsy Queen’ zone 4
C. 
‘Guernesy Queen’ zone 4
C. 
‘Hagley Hybrid’ (‘Pink Chiffon’) zone 3
C. 
heracleifolia zone 3
C. 
‘Huldine’ zone 3
C. 
integrifolia zone 3
C. 
‘Jackmanii’ zone 3
C. 
‘Jackmanii Alba’ zone 3
C. 
‘Jackmanii Superba’ zone 3
C. 
‘Lady Betty Balfour’, zone 3
C. 
macropetala and its cultivars (‘Bluebird’, ‘Markham Pink’, ‘Rosy O’Grady’, ‘White Swan’, etc.) zone 4
C. 
‘Madame Baron-Veillard’ zone 3
C. 
mandschurica zone 3
C. 
‘Marie Boisselot’ zone 3
C. 
montana and its cultivars zone 7
C. 
‘Nelly Moser’, zone 3
C. 
‘P.B. Truax’, zone 4
C. 
‘Perle d’Azur’, zone 3
C. 
‘Ramona’ zone 3
C. 
recta zone 4
C. 
‘Rooguchi’ zone 4
C. 
tangutica and its cultivars and hybrids ( ‘Bill Mackenzie’, ‘Kigotia’ Golden Tiara®, ‘Helios’, etc.) zone 2
C. texensis and its cultivars zone 4
C. The President’ zone 3
C. 
 ‘Ville de Lyon’ zone 3
C. 
 virginiana zone 2
C. 
viticella and its cultivars(‘Margot Koster’,‘Polish Spirit’, ‘Purpurea plena elegans’, ‘Royal Velours’, ‘Venosa Violacea’, etc.) zone 4
C. 
 ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ zone 5
C. 
‘Warzawaska Nike’ (‘Warsaw Nike’) zone 3

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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Let Sleeping Clematis Climb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome older gardening books recommend taking clematis down off their support for the winter, laying them on the ground and covering them with a thick mulch, the idea being to protect them from the cold. And in the spring, the same books recommend reattaching them to their support.

This method is no longer recommended by clematis specialists. Removing a clematis from its support is a delicate task, as clematis stems are very fragile, and often the plant is damaged. The only fall care today’s experts recommend is deeply mulching the soil in the fall, which is especially necessary if you’re growing a clematis beyond its normal hardiness zone (for example, if you grow a zone 5 clematis in zone 4). Otherwise wait until spring to give them any special care. That would include cutting back any dead branches, which can be applied to any type of clematis. And some clematis (group II types) can likewise be cut back fairly harshly in the spring, as they bloom on new wood, that is, the new sprouts that appear in the spring. Still, other than mulching, there is no need to give clematis any special care in the fall.