So, I went wild this January and ordered many types of seeds from Silverhill. The watsonias germinated well, and many of the babianas did, too, but the gladioli, the lapeirousia, romuleas, and the hesperantha are just sitting there - fat, sassy, but not a sprout in sight. Any ideas?
Definitely no heat mat for South African winter growing bulb/corm seeds. South Africa has a diverse climate, most of it subtropical or temperate rather than really tropical. Most plants from the winter rainfall part (western and southern parts of the old Cape Province) need cool temperatures to germinate well. Some will germinate in a refrigerator, though having variation between night and day temps also helps, eg cold at night cool in day. Start the seeds in fall since they naturally grow thru the winter and die back in mid to late spring. I germinate most in a room which gets cool at night, but sometimes I will start seeds on a terrace in the fall and bring them in once they sprout or before frost threatens. Protea seeds can also be germinated this way-but not in standard commercial seed starting mixes since they all seem to have added fertilizer--added phosphorus is deadly to proteas.
If you are germinating summer growing plants from eastern SA, they often germinate easily at normal room temperatures or nearly so. A few kinds, like adeniums, like it quite warm, for those a heat mat could be quite helpful.
Babiana seeds tend to come up within a few weeks of sowing, so do most glads, the others vary according to the species. It is not uncommon for some Romuleas and Lapeirousias to wait till the following year to come up. If you get no germination in a couple of months, dry the pots out for summer, and start watering again in Sept/Oct. Some kinds from higher altitudes need cooler temps to germinate, Lapeirousia oregana seems to be one of these.
Some seeds may germinate better when treated with "smoke water" solution, though I have not tried it myself. Silverhill would have more info on this.
If your winter growers just began to sprout now, keep them as cool as possible (probably not a problem in the northwest) to maximize their growing period so they can make good baby corms or bulbs before the leaves die back. Once the leaves die back, cease watering or the corms will likely rot.
Refrigeration will work, its just that it would be better to start the seeds in the fall, their natural cycle is to grow from fall to spring,and they don't take well to being forced to grow in summer (hot weather makes them go dormant, as do long days). This is one reason why sparaxis and ixia hybrid bulbs sold in the big box stores in spring don't do that great in gardens, especially in hot areas. Even if they manage to come up for spring, they quickly go dormant, then try to come up in fall if the summer wetness and heat doesn't rot the dormant corms.
G. orchidiflorus does have some really cool looking flowers of a weird greenish color. In the right climate (or in a cool greenhouse) it is one of the easier SA bulbs to grow.
I just sowed Watsonia marginata seeds in a well drained soil (mix of compost and sand), in the end just covered seeds with pure sand.
I plan to keep it inside as it is autumn here, close to winter.
At what temperatures should I keep pots in?
I also sowed sparaxis grandiflora ssp. acutiloba seeds so I wonder the same for that too!
If anyone has any experience with it I would really appreciate it because this is the first time I am trying it.
They will be fine in a smallish pot for their first year, if they seem to be outgrowing it, you can transplant the whole pot into a slightly bigger pot--don't try and separate the seedlings while they are growing. Keep in a sunny cool place, or under lights in a cool area--small corms form the first year. When the leaves die down, probably around late spring or so, you can separate the young corms and keep them dry until fall, then replant into bigger pots and start watering again. Corms can also be kept in the pot for the summer, but keep the pot dry until at least late September. Good luck, and congrads on getting them started.
[quote="congminglaoshi"]They will be fine in a smallish pot for their first year, if they seem to be outgrowing it, you can transplant the whole pot into a slightly bigger pot--don't try and separate the seedlings while they are growing. Keep in a sunny cool place, or under lights in a cool area--small corms form the first year. When the leaves die down, probably around late spring or so, you can separate the young corms and keep them dry until fall, then replant into bigger pots and start watering again. Corms can also be kept in the pot for the summer, but keep the pot dry until at least late September. Good luck, and congrads on getting them started.[/quote]
Thanks for the advice! :D
Good that you told me not to transplant seedlings while they are growing as that what I was thinking to do since all 20 seeds sprouted in such small pot. I've read somewhere online that sparaxis seeds sprout erraticly so when I sowed I didn't expect them all to sprout.
Of course I will transplant whole pot later as it really should be necessary.
I will continue to keep the pot at the window because temperature seems perfect, it is cooler place and with lots of light during day which doesn't last long.
Hopefully some of my watsonia seeds will also germinate, but they need a bit more time surely.
I will keep giving information here about progress of seedlings, hopefully all goes well!
Today I also noticed first watsonia marginata seedling! :D
Hopefully many more will sprout too.
I've read that both watsonia and sparaxis seeds need 30-90 days to germinate but here it's happening all much quicker.
I don't mind that at all.
Pots are in room which gets colder at night, just like congminglaoshi explained would suit them the best.