Monday, February 15, 2010

Seeds that I am starting this Year

I just finished ordering too many seeds for me to handle this year, but I will give them all a shot. Most of these are native annuals or biennials and many are native to Massachusetts, where I am located. I thought I would share my list with you all.

Native to Massachusetts:
Adlumia fungosa (Alleghany vine, biennial, shown above), Aureolaria pedicularia (Fernleaf yellow false foxglove, annual), Bidens coronata (Crowned beggar’s ticks, annual), Corydalis sempervirens (Rock harlequin) , Hedeoma pulegiodes (American pennyroyal, annual), Hypoxis hirsuta (Eastern yellow star grass, perennial), Polygala sanguinia (Purple milkwort, annual), Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (Sweet everlasting, annual).

Some of these plants will be tricky to start and use. As ‘wild’ plants they are adapted to thrive in specific environments. I hope to learn more about their requirements and how well they adapt to a residential garden. For example, Aureolaria pedicularia is parasitic on oaks and possibly ericaceous species; the Corydalis, Polygala and Pseudognaphalium are found on thin or depleted soils and may not do well in the relatively enriched soils found in most gardens. I’ve had good success with the Adlumia – these are seeds from a previous year’s plants.

Native to New England:
In addition to the seeds above I am trying these that are native to other parts of New England:  Monarda punctata (spotted bee balm, biennial; photo on left taken at Mount Auburn Cemetery wildflower meadow) and Rudbeckia triloba (brown-eyed Susan, biennial).

This Rudbeckia grows more as a bush with smaller, 'softer'-looking flowers than the more common Black-eyed Susan (R. hirta).

Native to other parts of North America:
Agastache aurantiaca ‘Navaho Sunset’, photo to right (Golden hyssop, perennial), Cleome serrulata (Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, annual), Eschscholzia californica (California poppy, annual/tender perennial), Euphorbia marginata ‘Summer Icicle’ (Snow-on-the-Mountain, annual), Gallardia pulchella (Annual blanket flower, annual), Phacelia tanacetifolia (Lacy phacelia, annual), Phlox drummundii (Drummond phlox – straight species, annual), and Salvia coccinea (Texas sage, annual/tender perennial).

I got the Phlox and Gaillardia on a visit to the Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX.  (Well worth a visit whenever you are in that part of the country!)  These southwestern and western native plants are more decorative and may have a place in a home garden. They would be out of place in a meadow planting in the Northeast (or anywhere outside of their native ranges).


Unknown said...

Hi Adam,

I coordinate an initiative in Rhode Island called Rhody Native. We wild collect native seed and work with propagators to bring the plants to market. I am wondering if you had any luck propagating Aureolaria pedicularia? Or if you have come across any sources to guide you in trying to propagate hemiparasitic species. You can contact me by email at

Thanks! Hope Leeson

Curtis said...

I had no luck with getting Aureolaria to germinate. I think there was a recommendation that fresh seed is better (mine was not particularly fresh). I tried it alone, in pots with Oak seedlings, with blueberries and under established oaks. None of these produced any results. Maybe taking a little soil from an area that has Aureolaria already established will provide some microbial assistance.

Best of Luck!

Carol R. said...

Any more comments or news on Aureolaria pedicularia? A school nearby (in MA) has a number of flowering plants each year, and I would love to get some of the seed to germinate and produce flourishing plants!

Curtis said...

I have no new information. Based on what I've read I would use fresh seed direct sown onto an area with roots of a host species, like a native oak. The seeds are very small and I believe they need light to germinate, so just press them onto the surface of the soil.

Rhody Native said...

I contacted Lytton John Musselman (Old Dominion University) to get his advice, which was either to sow seed directly in the presence of the roots of oaks, or into a container along with an oak seedling. He remarked that the seeds would germinate, but soon fail due to the lack of oak roots, on which they are obligate parasites. Some folks that I was working with that same year, did sow some seed we had collected, in flats. Germination rate was great. I advised them to plant out the seedlings as soon as possible, which they did. Apparently the seedlings didn't make it, although they do now have (2 years later) a single stem in that same location. Maybe one of the seedlings actually did survive. I haven't tried germinating the species' seed.

Curtis said...

Thanks for this great info.