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Someone dmailed me asking about sowing MG seeds too late to harvest ripe seeds before autumn frost. As it happens, that is what I'm about to do, as it is usually too late by now in my zone 7 for very many MG seeds to ripen before frost when sown this late. Since I thought this might be helpful for any other procrastinators out there, I'm posting my response here. Hope it's useful -
(The sticky has links to all the following ideas in greater detail.)
1. Grow the MGs in pots so you can bring them in before fall frost to ripen seed.
-- I have grown MGs in containers and saved a few seeds when the MG was grown in just a 1-cup size styrofoam coffee cup and also a qt-size yogurt container. The bigger the pot, the bigger the vine and thus the bigger the seed harvest.
-- Self-watering pots are labor-saving and perhaps produce better quality plants than human-watered pots, but mine will be human-watered.
-- Every time you cut or nip one MG vine, two new shoots appear in the leaf axil, thus doubling the seed harvest, theoretically - so this is a good way to limit the size of your MG vine if you're thinking about trundling these vines indoors later on to ripen seed. In your mind's eye, imagine how big you ultimately want your plant, and then nip anywhere the vine crosses that imaginary line.
2. No way will I have enough room in my Hobbit-sized hovel for all the potted vines I want to grow, so I will be cutting some vines with partially ripened seeds and twining them in a figure-8 pattern on 18" tall sticks which are put into glass jars of water with just a tad of hydrogen peroxide (H202 - local grocery & drug stores sell 3% strength). I change 1/3 of the jars every day and the H202 keeps the water from getting scummy sooner. The jars are under grow lights, because even if you have no leaves, the stems are still photosynthesizing. I got a lot of good seeds this way, but after 6 weeks or so the quality of the saved seed does go down.
3. Did I say I hate growing stuff in pots? Well I do anyway and have quite the Pot Ghetto if I say so myself. But I most love morning glories when they are growing in the ground, unconstrained by a pot, and just going bonkers all over the place and flinging themselves over arbors you can walk beneath or curtains of wild abandonment up the sides of out-buildings. Soooo - my plan is to root tip cuttings of some of the potted morning glories and stick 'em in the ground and "let-'er-rip."
Hope this helps and feel free to ask any questions. Looking forward to others' comments and suggestions.
Thanks for the tips! I normally sow right at the beginning of May, but this year I ordered seeds from eBay.
They were assorted Japanese seeds, and I was SO excited to get them.
I planted them, and waited...waited...waited...until June.
I was so p.o.'d that I decided to sow Grandpa Otts seeds I had harvested in 2008. I expected nothing to come up.
Boy, was I wrong!! The entire pot is filled with seedlings! I had no idea the seeds could last that long. (I must thank my DH for suggesting I try them. Thanks, doll!)
Anyway, now if they won't set seed outside in time for me to harvest, I'll still be able to get seeds.
'pologize for this being too wordy, but have headache...hope the following is useful -
I goofed: In the previous post, I implied that Ipomoea purpurea 'Grandpa Ott's' could be a Japanese MG. What we do know about this MG is that it was 'introduced' by Seed Saver's Exchange in 1975 after the SSE's founders got the seed from their grandfather, Grandpa Ott, who got it from his parents who brought it with them from Bavaria when they emigrated to the US*. What I don't know is if this cultivator could have come from Japan at some point in the forgotten distant past.
A major difference between Ipomoea nil and Ipomoea purpurea is that the latter germinates pretty well at colder temperatures, which is why I. purp. not only can be wintersown** but can also become an invasive self-sower in temperate zones. This is generally not true of Ipomoea nil and might have something to do with why your May sowing of Japanese MGs failed, while Grandpa Ott's tootled along so nicely.