Bells of Ireland and Columbine

Culpeper, VA(Zone 7a)

Back in January I WS a few varieties of Columbine and some Bells of Ireland. They sprouted and now seem like they have stopped at the first set of leaves. Is that normal? I exaggerate- maybe the columbine seedlings have about four tiny leaves. A few of the Bells of Ireland are about 4 inches tall and have teeny weeny "bells". I seriously looks like a Barbie version of the plant. I started them in pro-mix, which seems to have worked for almost all my other WS items. Should I wait these babies out and plant them in the fall? I've very amused by this turn of events because it is isolated to my columbine and my Bells.

Guyton, GA(Zone 8b)

The same thing happened with the columbine I wintersowed too. They are even still in the milk jug with the lid off. Mine are alive but TINY, I mean like the size of my thumb nail. All of the other stuff I wintersowed is in the garden blooming like crazy. Hopefully someone out there can help us.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I had terrible luck WSing (this is my first year, and could have done many things wrong.

But I was just about to throw away the soil in dozens of 3" pots, when I noriced "funny-colored vermiculite".

TINY seed leaves of Penstemon. Some dark green, more red-purple-green. Tiny like 1/16th inch tiny, or at most 2mm accross both seed leaves!

They must be Pensteemon, becuase there are several identical dots within each pot, and somewhat different colors and sizes from pot to pot. So I'm giving them some sun and might qas well fertilize them: they've been in thos pots since January or February.

Normally I wouldn't fertilize cotyledons, but these guys ain't goin' NOWHERE as they are.

(P.S. This is actually boasting about the sudden amazing success of ANYthing appearing in those WS pots. I gave up months ago when ONE pot showed those tiny dots ... but then they disapeared.)

Zero success WS Columbines, but pretty high germination rate indoors with no stratification! They got tall and spindly pretty quickly, and they still are.


(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't throw away my milk jugs with green vermiculite. I sowed meconopsis and understood it could take many months to germination. I have two teeny tiny sprouts in one jug. I pulled the whole plug (about 2" wide and deep and put it in a pot. I'm afraid to dump the jugs for fear that there may be something still alive.

Guyton, GA(Zone 8b)

This was my first year too. I tried things that are supposed to be super easy, like cleome, larkspur and forget-me-nots as well as the columbines(not so easy for me LOL). I think I may try a very weak shot of food as well. The worst thing that would happen is they will die and I will have to try again.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Gosh, I had no problem WS columbines. They grow when nothing else will grow. I just cut mine back a few weeks ago and I am already seeing some new shoots down at the basal plant. It probably is getting too hot for them. I've noticed some I WS this winter have pretty much stopped growing. I am still babying two or three of my wintersown plants. One is Heliotrope "Marine" and the other is clustered bellflower. I've transplanted them from milk jug to 4 in. nursery pot and they still don't seem to grow much. I've almost given up on them. I will try to WS them again next year.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I came up with a theory: WS tubs PREFER to be snowed under at some point. Many who have suiccess mentioned the blanket of snow.

A few people who had little success don't seem to be in heavy snow zones.

In my case, most these factors probably also hurt:
- not enough light
- barely-freezing winter then very slow cold spring
- maybe not enough daily temperature chnage when they were on the porch in the shade
- first-year WS cluelessness
- quality of the soil mix (next year, even better draining and add some fertilizer)
- fussy seeds

I've actually had more luck with "seeds that need stratification" by just sowing them indoors and waiting several weeks for germination.

But Great Holy Jumpiong Cotyledons! Those Penstemon are SLOW even AFTER they germinate!

My next over-ambitious project is to try to germinate some Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss, False Forget-Me-Not). Nhuntly turned me on to them, and is kindly sending some pods and roots.

I am barely restraining myself from trying to start Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum, Texas Bluebell). I read an article explaining why even professional growers have a hard time with that. But they're pretty! I want some! Oh, well, something to work on after I retire. And learn how to start easier seeds!


(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

rick, I concur on all counts - regarding WS failure. You pretty well hit it on the head. Maybe that will knock some smarts into us. I also love a challenge. Really hate to be told 'that can't be done." My big effort and success was tree peonies left in the ground and blooming in the spring. I admit to bunches of overweaning pride. Hubris.. I am sure that is why the 'powers that be' sent the plague of mice.

I heard that the Texas Bluebell can be pretty invasive. Might want to be careful of being too successful.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I also love a challenge. Really hate to be told 'that can't be done."
>> I admit to bunches of overweaning pride. Hubris..

I just think of it as the Frank Sinatra Syndrome: "I did it MY way!"

Or "darn-fool bull-headed stubburness". Once I want to do something a certain way, giving up won't cross my mind for years.

Maybe I should reword that to "incredible patience and admirable persistence".

>> I heard that the Texas Bluebell can be pretty invasive.
>> Might want to be careful of being too successful.

Oh, thanks! You mean this could be yet another lesson of "be careful what you wish for, lest you get it"??? God or the Universe is just SO generous with lessons like that. :-)

I could easily imagine spending years of effort to get the first surviving Lisianthis to put out its first bloom ... and then needing the Army Corp of Engineers to excavate my neighborhood from a triple-canopy jungle of Texas BlueBell.

Apearing on 60 Minutes to explain why I made WA State uninhabitable.

Changing the state name from "the Evergreen State" to "those darn Bulebells State".


I thought that was more likely to happen when this seed company in Thailand sent me some definitely invasive (but semi-aquatic and tropical or sub-tropical) seed:

"Water Spinach" / Ipomoea aquatica /
"Water Morning Glory" / "Water Convolvulus" /
"Chinese Spinach" / "Swamp Cabbage" /
Indonesia: "kangkung" / Thai: "phakbung" /
In Mandarin Chinese: "kong syin tsai" (hollow heart vegetable).

So far - weeks of effort, multiple sowings, vigilant watering - maybe 4 seedlings are barely visible, 3/4" inch tall, not growing at all, but "not dead yet".


(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

" needing the Army Corp of Engineers to excavate my neighborhood from a triple-canopy jungle of Texas BlueBell. "
"Apearing on 60 Minutes to explain why I made WA State uninhabitable."

My God you are hysterical!. I so needed that very good laugh. Been a little grim around here. Extremely hard winter and so much has been damaged or simply disappeared. You are so dad gum ---- uh.... postive! I like it.


Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thank you!

I was wondering if I'd get another response like the one from the lady who asked if I knew that I was very, very silly.

Well, yes I am, and yes I do!


P.S. Every time I get grumpy about what a "cold" Spring we had on the WA coast this year, I remind myself that I don't live in Alaska!

I SAW those 10-20 foot tall poles along the sides of roads,
so snow plows know where to aim.



Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

I did WS columbine Lime Sorbet. Glad to say that it did grow. Yes, the plants are still small but doing fine. Some are in pots, and some are in the ground. I just have to find the chipmunk that keeps digging up my pots and spots in the garden looking for bulbs, and inadvertently digs out my plants. It's interesting that my WS columbines are still small, and the plants in the garden that self sowed are larger and have already bloomed. Sorry to say that my meconopsis which did sprout, but didn't make it. Bad storms blew a few of my pots over, and I lost the seedlings. I have to say of all the varieties of containers used to WS, I loved the milk jugs the best. They had the best germination rate, and didn't dry out as easily as some of the containers used.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I am saving milk jugs by the -- well, lots. But when winter is over, how do they get watered. Even if you leave the top ( the screw on top) off, not much rain could get through the little spout? Why do I feel Cory is going to cut me off at the knees for being so dumb.

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Ok, I must fess up that my seeds that germinated aren't all planted yet, so I've removed the tape, and I water them with the garden hose. Remind me not to sow so (no pun intended) many jugs next year. They seem fine. I'll hopefully get the last of them planted this weekend.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

So you wait til they germinate to open the top and water. Mine were drying out before germination. I took one inside and watered it and it germinated it in the garage which is why I thought part of my problem was lack of moisture. How much do you water them when they are sown?

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Only if they're drying out. I treat them like regular plants. They're doing well in their open milk jugs. I put them in the garden beds when I went on vacation so that the sprinkler system watered them, and I think that's where they'll stay till I get around to finally getting them in the ground. I'll post some pictures later.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Okay. Hmmm. I wonder if it is worth it to WS here in October knowing that nothing will happen until say april or May.

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

I liked WS in January here when it was too cold to do anything in the garden. When does it get too cold to work outside in Anchorage in the summer or fall? With your long stretch of cold, you could get a lot of jugs done.

Here are the jugs as promised. This is my wild flax.

Thumbnail by Cem9165
Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Agastaches that really need to be planted.

Thumbnail by Cem9165
Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Here's the WS columbine. It's about 6in. tall and seems to be making some progress.

This message was edited Jul 2, 2011 7:55 PM

Thumbnail by Cem9165
Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Columbine that selfsowed, has already bloomed and set seeds. I thought the WS and self sown would grow at the same rate, guess not.

Thumbnail by Cem9165
(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

This was my first year to WS. I couldn't start outside until early April, but I did some Deno sowing in the city indoors. I have 20 small pots of Lady Lavender (WS) and a dozen lupines (Deno) in the ground, 2 types, also 5 penstemon Husker Red (Deno) about 6" tall and all showing nice red foliage- these are the ones that survived the flip-flop of my fully loaded 3-shelf plant stand! I also planted a few hos groups of 2 kinds of oriental poppies (WS), however I've become quite unsure as to their exact location. This makes weeding in that general area somewhat problematic, especially since I keep changing my mind as to what that end of the border should look like.

Everything else was annuals, all planted. The only duds were: Malva Zebrina, must have been bad seed, tried both inside and WS; tall pink balloon flower from a trade, and another annual I've already forgotten the name of.

In the flying seedlings incident I lost all the just planted Heuchera sprouts (Deno, 60 days) and various other less significant bits. I also lost the entire packet of lupines that I nicked, then soaked in hot water as per some thread or other...they just fell apart. A few sprouted for a heartbeat, then vanished.

So on the whole, I consider that it was a fairly successful first endeavor, with many lessons learned.

Now if only I could get everything planted-- all the seedlings, mail-orders, trades and various other beauties that attached themselves to me in my travels...

And let's not talk about weeds...

Happy 4th...


Culpeper, VA(Zone 7a)

My Lime Sorbet and Nora Barlow are the the tiny starts in my jugs! Oddly enough I have some Charters mix Hollyhocks- half of which grew fine, the other half of which are Barbie sized like the columbines. I also have a Barbie sized jug of rudbeckia Cherokee Sunset. My agastache and penstemon sprouted just fine but are pokey-slow growing once planted out.

Over-all I had great success with my first WS venture, even with some 6 year old seeds. Nora and Lime Sorbet were new and got snowed on a few times. I can't figure it out!

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

Hey ladyschweig, I have to agree about the size of the WS plants. My Zinnia Coral Rose that should be 12-18in tall is about 6-8in but blooming. The rudbeckia that should be at least 1-3 ft and it's 8in maybe, and blooming. Why are the WS plants show short? Wonder if they'll be normal size next year?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

that is what I am interested in. I don't mind the undersized condition for the first year, but would hope that perennials would come in the next year more robust and bigger.

Culpeper, VA(Zone 7a)

I gave up on my lime sorbet, but I did manage to plant my Nora Barlow when they got about 4 inches tall. I haven't checked them in a while... I hope they haven't dried up! I like to imagine that my out of control weeds help retain moisture... yeah, that's the ticket! Sometime soon I plan on flushing out my unsuccessful jugs and seeing what can be used this coming winter. My basement is awash in milk jugs!

Floyd, VA(Zone 6b)

I did some "summer" sowing too. I was able to get a few each of blue & white and red & white
origami columbine, centhranus, Lupin, 4 kinds of primrose, and several other things. My pruning cuttings from phlox
and chrysanthemum did very well as did hydrangea. This November I have all kinds of seeds to
scatter for self sowing: larkspur, cosmos, for-get-me-not, peony annual poppies, and lots of
other things. My cone flowers self sow too.

Of course, I will do the milk jug thing. Now that I have found the local recycling center, I am awash
with gallon milk jugs. Then there are the light shelves inside. Of course, I don't have room for so
many plants.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Just lurking around, and wanted to say a little something about too many plants for your yard. I know our church would love to get donated plants, and the nursing home where my MIL lived used them for their residents to pot up and care for out in the courtyard. It made her happy to play in the dirt again.

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