We have the native seeds, What to do now?

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I thought I would get this thread going for questions about starting native plant seeds and also for sharing your experiences in trying to germinate them. Please tell us what works for you.

I found these two articles that seemed very helpful, one about planting seeds in general;

One about specific native plants to Winter sow in our area;

Seedling Recognition;

I found this interesting link today.

Building a plant Shelf
#1 http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/48/
#2 http://www.tsflowers.com/plantstand.html

Great Link to Seeds and Seedling ID

How to ID Bugs.

Here is another good link about seeds.

This one tell you what to do with the seeds;

About Texas Milkweeds;

A good link about Propagation

Link to list of all Texas native Plants

List of recommended native plants for North Central Texas.

Please post other links that you might know about and I will add them to this top post so they can be easily found.
I hope we will all have a very successful growing year 2011.

Cowpen Daisy, seedhead, and seeds.

This message was edited Jan 22, 2011 2:08 PM

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

This one came up on the native plant society listserv

"Seedling Recognition" for anyone who is direct sowing.

Linden, TX(Zone 8a)

Great idea. I hate that I did not get in on the seed swap, but I found it at the last minute and our native plant chapter had just done a seed swap and my supply was gone. I am just a couple of years into native plants (I am seeing that it takes a while to get them up and then another while to get them to bloom), but I am sold on native plants.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Great!! I am glad you joined us on this thread, we can all learn from each other.
We will have it again next year, but in the meantime let us have fun growing those seeds.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Glad you started this thread. I'm going to have a lot of questions, I'm sure.

First question about winter sowing: I have a big country-style covered front porch. Thinking of putting the little pots and milk jugs on shelves against wall of the porch. The porch faces east. It would have sun exposure for very short time as the sun comes up in the morning.

Would that setup be okay, or should I locate it someplace else?

And do I need to get all the winter sowing seed in place right now, or will it be okay to wait until middle of January?

What happens when we have unseasonably warm weather, like occurs so often in north central Texas? Does that negatively affect the winter sowing cycle?


Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Glenna, I think the spot where you have the seeds is just perfect, not too much sun to warm them up prematurely, a little shelter from cold drying winds and a handy spot to keep them moist when needed.
Remember that the cold and warm cycles will help to break the dormancy of the seed.
I suppose a warm spell could cause some seeds to sprout, but many require the soil to be warm, not just the air.
I plan to throw a cover over them on very cold nights if sprouting happens, and I think you can wait till January, there will be plenty of cold days up till March.

Let us hope it all goes well, we will have to keep close watch to learn what works best.
I am new to winter sowing myself, so learning as I go is the order of the day.

Grapevine, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm treating this as an experiment, and am planting a few 4" pots of each seed in a few different locations with varying exposure to the elements, plus one in my mini greenhouse. Once they start sprouting, I suppose I should move them to the greenhouse, for extra protection. It will be interesting to see what works!

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Good idea Dennis, I like your approach.

Arlington, TX

That's what is worrying me. I have some seeds that don't need a chill to germinate and I wonder what those will do outside. I might save some for the spring.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I think that would be very wise Cheryl, I am doing that too.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, I am not doing anything right now.....LOL! Looks like I need to start making plans!

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

This will be my third year wintersowing and I hightly recommend it! As gardeners, we have a tendency to want to make winter sowing harder than it has to be. For example, there is no need to move the sprouted plants to a more protected environment such as a greenhouse. The beauty of wintersowing is not having to do that sort of thing. I do toss a sheet over my sprouted containers if there is going to be a freeze, as a precaution, but some say that is not even necessary. Once it heats up in the spring, I am usually move the containers to an area of the yard that doesn't get as much sun so they don't roast and so they don't dry out so quickly before I have a chance to plant them out. I also will remove the covers, or move them off enough to vent well, on war days, so they don't roast. I have found that here in Texas they usually need to be watered. The main theory behind wintersowing is that the seeds will sprout when it is the correct time for them, because they are outside, in the environment that they will be living in. No problems with damping off, either!

The wintersowing forum here on Dave's was my education central. I think there are some plants that people have discovered don't wintersow well. It's great to glean from others experiences. I'm glad several of you are giving it a try this year. I think you will be very pleased.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you Tonya, I think we are all going to learn a lot, we may need a few pointers from you and others who have experience.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm just putting my 2 cents in. Please feel free to correct me. : )

From what I have been told and from my experience, limited tho it may be. Some of the seeds don't need stratification to germinate but they do grow and mature over the winter (cooler months) ie Bluebonnets. In a wetter fall I see BB coming up everywhere, hotter weather causes them to bolt (bloom). So they don't need the cooler weather to germinate (they will germinate in cooler weather) they and many other Wildflowers, need the cooler weather to start their life cycle.

I hope this make sense. Not enough coffee.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Lisa, I think it's all good.
I guess I have always thought that seeds are too touchy, that is why you could say I am the queen of rooted cuttings, but indeed if you want a certain plant sometimes cuttings are not possible or available, so here we go!!!

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Ok, on to my question about planting scarlet buckeye. Josephine, I saw on PF you're suggestion to plant it eye down and not to cover it completely. Can you, or Mary or anyone else give me any other pointers? Does it need to be nicked and soaked? Should I cover it with a plastic bag to give it a greenhouse effect? One of the seeds got a little moldy before I had a chance to take it out of the bag, so I washed it off good and coated it with cinnamon. Any other suggestions about that or anything else regarding planting scarlet buckeye?

Lisa, I have planted some bluebonnets in the fall, also and they did well. Do you think it is too late to put some bb seeds out now in my flower beds where I will give them water over the winter?

Thanks, Tonya

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Hello Tonya, well the eye down and not totally covered seed was working on the theory that the large seed would have to split for the shoot to come up out of the center, sort of like an avocado does.
But I found by accident (one of the seeds fell to the ground and sprouted on top of the mulch)
so now I know that both the shoot and the root come out of the eye, without the seed splitting at all, one goes down and the other up.
So in conclusion I think it is best to plant it sideways with the seed just level with the soil.
It should be as fresh as possible, if not, a little scratching away from the eye and soaking overnight might help.
I put mine in pots and set them outside on a shelf and kept the moist.
Good luck they are beautiful.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

Hmm, there's probably some botanical word for that? (Both growing out from the same spot instead of in opposite directions like an avocado.)

Fwiw, "How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest" says cover them an inch with dirt. I bought a one-year old buckeye at the Wildflower Center last year, and had some chat with one of their botanists, who seemed to think that if you were going to put it in a pot, the most important was make sure it is plenty deep, since the tree is mostly going to make a nice deep root at first.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, all I can tell you is what I observed from nature itself. When I planted them with the eye down I did notice that the shoot had to work its way around the big seed to come up to the surface.
It might be interesting to plant a few in different ways and see what happens.

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Well, I do have two seeds that Mary sent me. Maybe I will try one soil level and one an inch deep. I did read that the fresher the better. Mary, are these relatively fresh, or do you suggest I "scratch and soak"?

Josephine, would you go ahead and put it outside now? Or, since it is winter, start it inside. The "freshness factor" was what made me decide I had better plant them now.

Thanks for your input, too, realbirdlady!

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I would put them outside, but do what you feel most comfortable with, or maybe keep one in and the other out, that way you can see what happens.

New Braunfels, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks Josephine. I just wasn't sure if the cold weather would inhibit it's germination. I may try one each way, like you said.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Tonya, I think you would be fine sowing BB seeds, if you keep them watered. I've sown them thro Jan and they have bloomed in the spring. Right now its so dry that nothing in my pastures has even germinated, but I will be really surprised if I don't get some Wildflowers this Spring. Nature always takes care of itself, even if I don't.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm jumping into this seed starting with both feet, so to speak, and hope I don't drown!! LOL.

We built the PVC light stand this weekend: http://www.tsflowers.com/plantstand.html to use indoors.

Due to Christmas supplies taking the space, there are presently no seed starting supplies in the stores in Cleburne. I think I'll order some of the kits from http://www.novoselenterprises.com/products/greenhousekits.asp . I am concerned that our central heat will dry things out too much and hope it will be suitable to use the little greenhouse kits under the flourescent lights.

Also may use these kits for winter sowing and put them in plastic storage boxes stacked on my front porch.

Thoughts, anyone?

Happy Holidays.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I have had those in the past...though not much on planting seed. I found them hard to work with after the seedlings appeared...couldn't get them out easily. I would much rather deal with the foam cups or 3" individual pots. Just my 2 cents.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Sheila, were the ones you used perforated so the individual seedling cells would break apart? I've bought plants before that the individual plant containers wouldn't come apart and I don't want to deal with that but thought since these are perforated and meant to break apart that maybe they would work better. I definitely don't want to have to struggle with repotting the seedlings 2 or 3 times as they grow, so want to put the seed in larger individual cells to start with. But I really don't know what I'm doing and this will be a real learning experience.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

one gallon milk jugs from your local coffee shops...

split it open on three sides (use the back label as the hinge)
drill lots of holes top and bottom
plant your seeds, in potting MIX, MIX, MIX!!!
set 'em and forget 'em (except to check for dryness if it doesn't rain enough)!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

or, make a PVC PIPE TRAY, if you've got time to cut the pvc.
I've got two trays for this season. I'm using old wooden drawers with drain holes drilled in the bottoms ($1/each at a yard sale...)
Cut the pipe during TV commercials with a hand held pvc cutter tool

These are 4" tall 2" diameter pieces for some of my tomato and bell pepper seeds.

This'll be my first season using these tubes, but, if they work like they're supposed to (go check em out in the IRIS forum...), I'll not have a tangled mess of seedlings to break apart. And, since I can deep root the tomatoes, all I have to do is keep adding potting mix as the seedling grows taller. I'll push em out and have individual seedlings to pot up to 12 oz. solo cups...

Hope this is a helpful idea!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Here're the instructions I was trying to locate for the PVC SEED STARTER TRAY.

Arlington, TX

What seeds are you wanting to grow under lights? I am not going to plant any indoors and I have a set up that would work already. Mine are going outside, hence winter sowing. But I guess it depends on what you want to sow.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

All my natives get tossed I figure thats how they would reseed if I wasn't interfering. Since I started doing this I have had beatiful Wildflowers every spring.

Arlington, TX

I don't have the space or set up for just tossing. I need to know and plan where they will be growing. If I had some acerage it would be fun to have a truely wild flower patch.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

What seeds are you wanting to grow under lights?

I haven't finished researching which ones need a cold period and which don't. But some of my native seed I'm going to try both ways, winter sowing in the little 3x3" greenhouse pots and indoors under lights. One thing about winter sowing that has kept me from trying it before is it seems most people start a large quantity of seed in a large container like a milk jug and then move the individual seedlings into larger pots as needed. I want to avoid that step.

I plan on starting all my vegetable garden plants under lights this year. I don't do a large separate vegetable garden. Just one bed of tomatoes and mix the squash, cucumbers, etc., in with the flower garden.

Also going to start any annual bedding plants from seed under lights (that I've previously spent a fortune on every year.) Other than cost, it would be nice not to have to depend on HD or Lowe's or making a trip to Ft. Worth to have what I want at the time I want it. This past year I couldn't find zinnias of the variety that had been such an attraction for the butterflies the year before but I still have seed I saved and hope they will germinate.

Right now all my light stand has on it is my collection of Mother of Thousands that I brought in from the cold. We made a few changes from the original plans. Didnít glue the joints. Made the shelves different heights apart. Inserted conduit pipe in the PVC of the shelves to stabilize it.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

if there are seeds in the little pots on your light stand, the light is waaaaaaay too high above the pots. More like 1"-2" above the top of the seedling, to keep it from getting leggy...☺

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Glenna....the light shelving is super. If you still have plans I would love to have them.

As for the trays I used before..no they weren't perforated, and you have to repot again. I too don't like the milk jugs. Either they didn't grow or I would kill them trying to transplant.

Anyone I gave the lyreleaf sage, and brazos penstemons to will be happy to know you can just toss in loose soil, those and have great results. Do it now as they are almost evergreen in north Texas.

Glenna only has outside plants that she brought in there now Gym.

This message was edited Dec 14, 2010 8:27 AM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

The link to the lightstand plans was on DG. http://www.tsflowers.com/plantstand.html . I spent hours and hours searching and reading the discussions about it. Amazing how much time a person can eat up doing that !!

The changes we made were:
Original plans had the vertical side pieces 14 inches, which I thought made the shelves too close together when plants start getting any height on them. So we made the top shelf 14 inches. The second shelf 16 inches down. The third (bottom) shelf is 20 inches. You can lower the light fixtures down as close as you want with the chain.

We didn't glue the joints because when not in use, I want to be able to break it down for storage. Also, I had previous experience with PVC quilting frames and they didn't glue any of the joints and held up fine. We did insert a piece of 3/4" conduit pipe through the front and back lengths of the shelves to stiffen it up some. Suggestions for that purpose had been using wood dowel, smaller pvc or conduit. Conduit was the cheapest.

The light fixtures: 2-tube shop lights. Best price I found was HD for under $10, and that is with a cord and has chain and S-hook included, although the chain needs to be longer in order to lower all the way down close to the seedling trays. Of course, they have chain by the foot at HD or Lowe's.

Using a rubber mallet (or other hammer if you don't have rubber mallet) to tap on the joints as you construct it makes it much more stable. We started off just pushing the joints on and soon realized it was going to be pretty wobbly.

May think of something else later.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Sheila, one other thing about the lightstand. Some people made all their shelves 19 or 20 inches apart, but then it was really tall. You would need a ladder to reach the top shelf. LOL.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Very nice set up Glenna, you are really coming along.

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