I bought seed this year, hoping to get a few plants from them. This is my fav plant. I'm going to start a few outside in a plastic bin in March, sort of late winter sowing. I'll do some indoors, too. I just can't afford $5 for a tiny pot.
The Stokes website is a bounty of information like this - www.stokesseeds.com. They are geared toward greenhouse growers, but I believe their directions can be used by those of us growing under lights.
Here is a synopsis from their website which advises against any kind of wintersowing (for reason Anita already mentioned) or direct sowing.
GREENHOUSE [or under lights]: Slow growing. Start indoors by Mar. 1st for July blooms.
Press seed lightly into the surface and cover with a fine dusting of soil.
Germinate at 70 - 80°F *soil* temp for 20 days. [This would be an air temp of 80-90 degrees or a heat mat in a room at 70 degrees. They must need a lot of heat to germinate.]
Maintain air temp. of 70 - 80°F days and 60°F nights for 15 - 20 days after germination - then grow seedlings and plants cooler @ 60°F to prevent soft growth.
Plants are ready for sale or outdoor transplanting about 10 - 12 weeks from seeding.
They go on to say to plant them about a foot apart and to mix clumps of Heliotrope with Salvia or Marigolds for good contrast.
They may also be grown in 5 in terrace pots or large window boxes, where some afternoon shade is available to keep plants short. Heliotrope may also be grown in full sun, with rich soil. This plant really attracts the bees to your garden.
I think I'll do mine using the damp coffee filter inside a baggie on top of the refrigerator method. In the spring, I do that all the time with things that need warmth to germinate, and it works great. As soon as they germinate and start showing signs of the first pair of leaves, I pot them up in a winter sowing container and stick them outside. (I do it this way because I'd have to wait a lot of years before I got a nice stretch of 80 degree weather outdoors here on the San Francisco Bay. -LOL)
How has the baggy method worked for you please? Thinking of doing this also for mine. You might think it takesLONG for you to get your plants outside but I live in Iowa and it takes even LONGER! Can't wait for spring but the couple inches of SNOW outside might llike to differ with my delusion that it's around the corner :)
This is my favorite plant also. Price per plant is so expensive, probably because they are tricky to germinate. I think the only way to germinate these and have them by spring is to start seeds indoors. I am also thinking the same with lobelia.
I can't buy heliotrope seed locally so guess I will have to buy a couple of plants. Next year, I think I will look into germinating some seeds indoors. I need to look into these "warming pads". Thus far, I have done winter sowing. I love the method, but some seeds won't germinate in time to see them bloom and enjoy them.
I haven't started the heliotrope yet; probably in a couple of weeks. -I'll let you know how it goes. However I've have lot of success with other things so far. Here's the warm germinators I've started this year in coffee filters/baggies on top of the fridge that have germinated and then been thrown outside in winter sowing containers. -They are all doing great! (Outside, the highs are 50's to 60's; lows 40's to 50's right now.)
Capsicum, 'Anaheim' pepper
Capsicum, 'Bolivian Rainbow' pepper
Capsicum, 'Old Thai' pepper
Capsicum, 'Purple Prince' pepper
Capsicum, 'Serrano' pepper
Capsicum, tricolor variegata pepper
Salvia coccinea, Orange Red/Pink Stamens
Salvia splendens, Tall Peach-Pink
P.S. I don't envy you your snow, but come July, when you are wearing flip flops and tank tops and I am wearing polar fleece, I probably will envy you!
Susan_C: good for you.! So many seeds already sprouted. We're suppose to be having 45-50* but today it's only 38 or so. We're to have a couple more freezing nights then a week of above freezing temps. I'm so anxious to see sprouts. I've planted quite of few seeds but put them all in containers outside for winter sowing. The soil is frozen!:( I did not know you could "start" them in a baggie and then put them out. I should probably wait until the temps are above freezing though, Right??
Yes; if you pre-sprout them, you will definitely want to wait until there is no danger of freezing temps before you kick them out doors. I pre-spourt in order to get a head start with things that need warmth to germinate. You know, Mark Twain supposedly said "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" because we really are heat starved here. In the inland bay area they get a real summer, but right here on the bay it's chilly/overcast lots of the time. -So things that like heat to germinate can take a long time to come up if I sow them outdoors.
Re sprouts, here's what's sprouted from the seeds I've winter sowed. (The wave of green is heading your way!)
I have had more bad luck than good with Geraniums, but the G. wlassovianum germinated really fast, and I have quite a few sprouts. I sowed 'Splish Splash' and 'Confetti' at the same time, and I don't think I'll be seeing sprouts of those any time soon, if ever.
Last year, I had really good luck with the white variety of Geranium pyrenaicum. It germinated quickly and well and then went gangbusters in the garden; It bloomed prolifically in the summer, so it's one of those first year bloomers. I really liked it. -It's sort of like baby's breath for the shade.
Susan_C, would you please direct me to specific information sprouting in baggies. I am sosooooooo impressed with what you have sprouted. Meanwhile, mine are outside frozen!! Our last frost date is April 15th. You defintily have a geeeen thumb!
You're making me blush! -Just to be clear, the big list of sprouters above are all seeds that I sowed the standard winter sowing way. I can't claim a green thumb with those; It's all Mother Nature's doing! The small list I posted earlier of tomatoes, peppers and salvias are the ones I pre-sprouted using the coffee filter in a baggie method, which is known as the DENO method.
As I mentioned earlier, I don't pre-sprout anything until there's no danger of frost, so that I can pot them up and put them outside as soon as they sprout. I mostly only use this method for things that like a lot of heat to germinate, because heat is in short supply in my climate. I also use it for some things that are known to be tricky germinaters, like Heliotrope. Here's a site with a good explanation of the DENO method:
I'm crazy about Heliotrope, too. I love to Winter Sow but there are a few things I still choose to start inside and Heliotrope is one of them.
This year I decided to try 'Blue Wonder' which is a F1 Hybrid seed that's been available from wholesalers for a few years now -- this is the first year I've seen it offered retail.
Because I want to attract butterflies, I frequently avoid hybrids, but 'Blue Wonder' is supposed to be far more fragrant than other seed raised varieties. It also has attributes useful to the commercial grower(or the casual grower). GEOSEED, a seed wholesaler says of it in its catalog: "12"; Most uniform variety, evaluated for seedling performance, compact & base branching, earliest to bloom, mid blue."
As for germination, with bottom heat and a humidity dome I have germination in 4 days -- seeds sown on 2/22 and seedlings are just visible today.
Thanks Susan for the information using the baggie method.
Lianne thanks for the Swallowtail Seed resource. I ordered the 'Blue Wonder' per your advice. I hope I can get it to grow. I also order a few other seeds from the Swallowtail co. Beth
I hope 'Blue Wonder' wonder works out for both of us, since it's my first year with it, too.
I have to say I was drawn to the idea of an earlier bloom -- when I've grown Heliotrope from seed in the past it seemed like forever before it flowered. Also, I never was impressed by the scent of Marine / Dwarf Marine. You always hear about how great Heliotrope smells, right? Well I'm looking forward to something with a little oomph this summer.
You know, I may go ahead and Winter Sow a few seeds just to see when it blooms in comparison to my indoor starts...I'll have to report back.
BTW, I've been very happy with Swallowtail Seeds in the past. I hope your experience is a positive one too.
Well, I started my Heliotrope 'Marine' seeds in a filter/baggie on top of the fridge on March 9, and this morning about 1/3 of the seeds are showing signs of germination! I used a weak solution of household hydrogen peroxide (9 parts water 1 part 3% household hydrogen peroxide) to wet the filter because the folks on the seed germination forum recommend that as a seed soak for difficult germinaters. -I don't know if it made any difference since I didn't do a 'control' filter with just plain water for comparison purposes. Anyways, just thought I would give an update.
So, how did every one's heliotrope work out? I planted mine under lights. I got 6 healthy 'Blue Wonder' plants. That's not a whole lot, but I am very happy with 6. If I buy six heliotrope plants, they are 4 or 5 dollars apiece. None of my Marine seed stayed alive. I planted it as a winter sow project. So, no more planting heliotrope as a winter sow.
When I tried to sprout some seeds that were extremely small (dust), they would sprout a tiny, tiny, leaf. However, when I took the tiny leaf and set it on the soil it would die. So, what am I doing wrong?
I had good success with larger seeds but nothing with the tiniest seeds.
As I orginally posted, I grew mine under lights, too. Prior attempts at Winter Sowing heliotrope haven't been very successful.
I've got 24 cute little 'Blue Wonder' plants. It looked like our weather had stabilized, so I planted out 16 of them. Oops. We had two freezing nights in the last week and I've got some damage (even though I covered them). They should all survive...
Happily, I still have the 8 I potted up that are undamaged. I'm so glad they've done so well because I never would have spent the money to purchase this many no matter how much I like them.
Winter Sowing is great -- just not for heliotrope in my zone!
Your garden is gonna smeeeellllllll really good this summer. Tell me, where did you plant all of these?
I haven't planted mine out yet even though the weather here is hot: 80 + degrees. I like this plant so well, I can't decide where to plant my six. I am thinking about putting some of them in a pot so I can get "up close and personal" with them so I can really get my nose in them.
Shade or Sun? I planted mine in bright shade on the north side of my home (front door) and they did really well.