I am attempting to grow the Blue Himalayan using the winter sowing method. If I'm lucky enough to get a few seedlings, I need some advise on caring for this blue beauty. I am in zone 6b and have read that the Blue Himalayan does best in zone 5 or colder -- think I have a chance?
I am going to attempt it too. After all the advice I have received I have found: 1) It does not like heat, so it should be shaded and not real moist. 2) Germinating the seed is the biggest challenge. First, cold condition it . Then spread on a tray on top of growing medium. Keep between 50-60 degrees until sprouted. Germinates in 30 days. It is not easy with the most luck coming from England, Scotland, Nova Scotia and anyplace with similar weather. I have searched and searched for advice and this is what I found. Also, I received my seed fom the American Horticultural Society, which usualy gives good advice. Actually, it does best in your zone. Good luck!
Seeds germinate easily but the seeds must be very fresh. Most seed sold is too old (more than 1 year old) resulting in poor germination perpetuating the old myth that they don't germinate.
It is getting them to the three leaf stage that is difficult. This is best accomplished by growing them cold - no higher than 15 C (60 F). Sprout in a peat medium and keep moist. Do not let them dry out since this is certain death.
Grow the plants with east exposure and afternoon shade if possible especially in warmer climates.
Thank for the advise! I'm hoping the winter sowing method works. I planted the seed in two clear containers in late December. The temps have been between 15 F and 60 F all winter. This week the forecast calls for 60 F ... spring is just around the corner.
The rule is not to allow the plant to flower in the first couple of years. For M. betonicifolia, this is problematic since they are monocarpic. That means that the plant dies after the growing period. The hope is that it will have produced an offset during the growing period that will appear and flower the next summer. Of six plants that I put in a bed some years ago, only one has done this during that time. The others died after a year or two. So you see the problem - enjoy the flower this year or never see the plant again.
My feeling is that a good rich bed of equal parts compost and sphagnum peat moss and fetilizer (20-20-20) after blooming may be the key to success with M. betonicifolia. Also a mulch of compost in the fall will not hurt. To keep that nice blue colour, iron chelate every now and then won't hurt. Under do the chelate - 1/2 strength. You know you have over done it when the edges of the leaves turn brown.
The true perennials M. grandis and M. x sheldonii should not be allowed to flower in the first two or three years in order to build up a good sized plant that will more easily survive. So far, I have not had a perennial survive as long as the monocapic plant. If you buy them at the garden centres, get the plant that is already growing an offset.