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How Many?

posted by: butter_fly on 09.19.2006 at 11:57 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Hi, Just another newbie question. Generally how many seeds do you sow per container, say like a milk jug split into four sections? I don't want them to get to cramped but not have any come up either


clipped on: 12.12.2006 at 06:20 pm    last updated on: 12.12.2006 at 06:20 pm

'Purple Majesty'

posted by: donn_ on 06.01.2006 at 09:28 am in Winter Sowing Forum

I seem to have found my best way to sow Pennisetum glaucum, AKA 'Purple Majesty' Ornamental Millet, after complete failure WS'ing them last year.

I WS'd some in February, this year, and got no germination. I got one sprout in a sowing that went out in March. It's still only 2" tall, but alive.

I tried some in my pot-jug combination in late-April, and got about 30% germination, but very slow growth of the seedlings.

The other day, I planted out 8" diameter clumps of the late-April sowing in large containers, and sowed a few more seeds around each clump. They germinated in 4 days, and are already an inch tall.

It looks like they work best in warmer weather.

I still have some Pennisetum glaucum 'Jester' seeds left, which were also sown in the pot-jugs, but haven't germinated. I have some in a damp paper towel, at 75F, for almost a month now, with no germination. I'll give them one last try, but I'm afraid the seeds aren't viable.


clipped on: 12.07.2006 at 04:24 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2006 at 04:24 pm

Winter Sowing Ornamental Grass Seeds

posted by: lavendargrrl on 08.15.2006 at 05:28 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Hello -

I am new to this forum, but I'm active on the hostas forum.

I read the FAQ about Winter Sowing Ornamental Grasses just now, and it sounds pretty simple and straightforward.

I was looking for something to plant along a sloped area of my yard that runs along the street and slopes down to the fence along my backyard. The area receives morning sun, then dappled light during other times of the day. The quality of the soil in this area isn't great, and I don't really want to amend it. Ornamental grasses seem to be a good choice for this area to me since they don't require a lot of supplemental water or nutrients, and they will help prevent erosion.

The area is about 100 feet long and 10 feet wide, so I will probably need quite a few plants. This project could get very expensive, and someone suggested winter sowing as a cost-saving alternative.

I'm hoping for some links or advice of where to purchase ornamental grass seed.

Thanks so much,


clipped on: 12.07.2006 at 04:16 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2006 at 04:16 pm

More Grass Seed Collecting/Cleaning

posted by: donn_ on 11.15.2006 at 09:16 am in Winter Sowing Forum

Chasmanthium latifolium, AKA Northern Sea Oats is a wonderful ornamental grass for zones 5 and warmer, in any conditions from light shade to full sun. It will reach heights of up to 4', and holds it's seedheads well into winter, providing both winter interest and food for birds. In warmer climates, this grass will self-sow, so it's a good candidate for winter sowing, although it does not require cold stratification in order to germinate.

As with many other seeds, you must wait until the stem holding the seedhead as turned brown before harvesting. In addition, with Sea Oats, you should wait until the groups of hulls begin to spread their 'fingers' apart:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The 2 branches top left have dry stems, but the seedheads have not started to loosen yet. The lower right stem shows how the seedhead opens up as the hulls are becoming ready to give up their contents.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This photo shows 3 columns of examples, with seed clusters, hulls and seeds.

The left-hand column was harvested too early. The cluster has not opened up, and both the hulls and seeds are small and poorly developed.

The center column cluster has begun to open, and the hulls are fatter, even though their 'wings' have not begun to rise. The seeds under the wings are larger and more fully developed.

The right-hand row shows an opening cluster, and the hulls' wings are starting to lift up from the hull, revealing the seed. Lift that wing all the way open, and the seed will literally fall out. You can see how much fatter and more fully developed the seeds are at this stage.

After they are removed from the hulls, Sea Oats seeds have a moist, slightly sticky substance covering them. Spread them out on a paper plate, or in an open bowl indoors to dry before storage.


clipped on: 11.17.2006 at 05:07 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2006 at 04:12 pm

'Instant beds'

posted by: donn_ on 03.28.2006 at 07:01 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Need quick bedspace for your new babies? Here's a surefire way to build them quickly, using nothing but lawn and cardboard.

Groundlevel beds: Cut the lawn/sod about 6-8" deep, in sections you can handle easily. In the space you dug the sod from, lay out sheets of cardboard. Soak the cardboard. Flip the sod chunks upside down, so the grass side is on the cardboard. You now have a new bed, which can be planted into immediately, with a little compost added to the back fill.

Elevated beds: Find a part of the yard that could use a new woodchip path (alongside a bed is a good spot, because it doesn't have to be mowed or edged, because there won't be any grass to grow into your bed). Dig out the same sod chunks outlined above. Lay out the cardboard where you want the new bed, and soak it down. Flip the sod chunks same as above. It's ready to plant. Put down some landscape fabric where you dug out the sod, and cover it with 6-8" of woodchips. You now have a weedfree path that will make compost at it's bottom, which you can harvest every year. Just rake back the top, shovel the bottom into adjacent beds, rake the top back into the bottom, and put a new layer on top.

The primary benefits of instant beds are that you don't need layers of greens and browns like with lasagna beds, and they don't shrink down like lasagna beds.


clipped on: 12.06.2006 at 02:35 pm    last updated on: 12.06.2006 at 02:35 pm

RE: Yet Another Brug Question (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: trianglejohn on 11.13.2006 at 10:51 am in Carolina Gardening Forum

tnlefty - there are certain types of brugs that only get about 5 feet tall while other types can get really big (I have one in my yard that gets over 15 feet tall!). I don't have a list of which is which - but can tell you that in my yard the variegated leaved ones stay shorter than the solid green leaved forms and the white or yellow/orange ish flowered ones get bigger than the pinks. The biggest one I grow is a wild pure species one but it doesn't bloom early and the flowers aren't as showy as the others.

The best way to get the biggest show in the summer is to keep them inside during the winter and plant outside after it has really warmed up (night time lows above 60 degrees). Once they are actively growing (lots of green leaves sprouting), feed them and feed them and feed them again! you cannot over feed them during the summer. I pound a tree feed spike near the root zone and still feed them three times a week with Miracle Grow. They also don't like to sit in water, so mound them up so that extra water drains away and water them every day. The more branches they form the more blooms they will have.

Persiancat Gardener - in the Raleigh area you can just leave them out in the ground but they do freeze back to soil level each winter. Most folks pile up a big pile of leaves on top of them to keep the winter rain from rotting the roots.

I dig some of mine up and chop back the main trunk to a few feet and drag them into a storage shed for the winter. It keeps them cool and dry which makes them go dormant. As long as it is above freezing they'll be fine. There usually isn't enough sunlight (days are short) in the wintertime for them to really grow much so dormant storage makes more sense but plenty of people like them in greenhouses because they will often continue to bloom and they are soooo fragrant.


clipped on: 11.18.2006 at 12:03 pm    last updated on: 11.18.2006 at 12:03 pm

Alyssum montanum seed saving

posted by: Donn_ on 07.13.2005 at 07:38 am in Seed Saving Forum

This has become one of my favorite spring bloomers, with electric sulphur color in April and May.

Image hosted by

I asked in another thread, where the seeds would be, and got no reply, so here's the scoop.

After the flowers fade away, each of them leaves a little flat round disk on the flower stem. As they dry, these pods become translucent, and you can see the seeds inside. Strip them when they'll fall off into your hand.

Image hosted by

Each pod has 1-4 small amber-colored seeds, which darken in color as they dry.


clipped on: 11.17.2006 at 05:16 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2006 at 05:16 pm

RE: Qeustions relating to hosting a plant sale (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: girlgroupgirl on 11.13.2006 at 01:51 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Here's the thing about tiny perennials. Your average gardener will be terrified to hunk plant a bunch of baby WS perennials.
I sell wintersown plants, but the perennials, in general I do not sell until the fall, or even the next year.
Annuals are a completely different thing. They will be beautiful and ready for planting, especially if you have access to a cold frame. Can you build a cold frame from some bales of straw and old windows or even better, an old screen door (with glass. If you have screens and glass you can open the door for venting yet the screen keeps out bugs!!). This will push babies along. Consider when your perennials already planted begin to look good in your area. My mom is in Markham, Ontario. Last year the weather was tough, and we couldn't even plant the annuals until the 2nd week of June. The soil was really cold and wet until then. The perennials were only beginning to leaf out and look decent about that time.
Also, none of your plants will probably be in bloom in early may. Maybe end of May in your zone, many people are so used to garden centers that they don't buy plants out of bloom...but if you can make a poster with print-out photos of plants you are growing, they will buy more readily.
Your prices are great. That's what I sell my plants for. Perennials in 4" cups, the annuals in paper cups, and I do $2.00 for a 6 pack of annuals.
You should definately go ahead and try it. Have a plan for any plants you don't sell. For example, a neighbour and I will plant public areas and war memorials in my neighbourhood with anything left over.


clipped on: 11.17.2006 at 05:12 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2006 at 05:12 pm

RE: More Grass Seed Collecting/Cleaning (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: donn_ on 11.15.2006 at 11:01 am in Winter Sowing Forum

Here are a couple of more, recently posted on other threads:

Carex muskingumensis, AKA Palm Sedge.

As with so many plants, wait until the stem directly below the pod/pods turns brown.

Each flower stalk carries 10 flowers, which are chartreuse green before they dry to this brown condition.

Each flower contains ~72 seed hulls and 72 light pieces of chaff.

Each hull contains one seed, which looks vaguely like a sperm.

Strip the seed clusters off the stem. Strip the hulls and chaff off the central stem of the seed cluster. This is easy, but tedious, because there can be as many as two dozen flower stalks on one medium sized (2-year old) plant.

Put the hulls/carriers in a 12" pie pan, and walk outside on a breezy day. A few minutes of winnowing removes all the chaff and most empty hulls.

This is as far as you have to go, but if you're like I am ;>), you'll shuck the seeds out of the hulls. This is also easy but tedious. Grab the 'tail' end of the hull with your tweezers, and push against the other end with your other thumbnail. The seed pops right out.

Carex grayii, Gray's Sedge:

Each point on the "mace" is a seed carrier, and inside each is a single hard-shelled seed.

I know I did one on Pennisetum, AKA Fountain Grass, last year, but it seems to have disappeared. I'll dig up the photo and post it here later.


clipped on: 11.17.2006 at 05:08 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2006 at 05:08 pm

RE: Double Dormancy Question (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: trudi_d on 11.16.2006 at 02:02 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

I'll suggest the Tom Clothier database.

Also, this link with info on scarification and stratification from NC State.

Here is a link that might be useful: TC Database


(In answer to a question about double dormancy).
clipped on: 11.17.2006 at 04:47 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2006 at 04:48 pm

Pineapple sage

posted by: mceller on 09.18.2006 at 09:10 pm in Winter Sowing Forum

Are there varieties of Pineapple sage that do not bloom?

I have 3 of the most beautiful pineapple sage plants, easiely 3.5' X 3.5' if not larger. Fantastic foliage but not one blossom, nor any idication any are forethcoming.

I have have had pineapple sage plants in the past that were not as big but had wonderful red flowers similar to a red lobeillia or lady in red salvia. I was so looking forward to flowers!

Perhaps they need two years? However I thought pineapple sage is an annual.

I have started several in pots. Do I pull them inside for the winter and hope of flowers next summer?

The foliage,as I said before, is wonderful. The scent is intoxicating Does anyone do anything with pineapple sage? I hate to let so many leaves go to waste...

Thanks a bunch!



clipped on: 10.21.2006 at 02:09 pm    last updated on: 10.21.2006 at 02:10 pm

post your pics of Yvonne's salvia

posted by: duane456 on 09.10.2006 at 11:37 am in Winter Sowing Forum

I thought it would be fun post pics of Yvonne's salvia and where they are growing-----here's mine from Portland Oregon

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


clipped on: 09.21.2006 at 03:43 pm    last updated on: 09.21.2006 at 03:43 pm

Winter Sown swap tags - Need Brains Please

posted by: bakemom on 09.17.2006 at 09:56 am in Winter Sowing Forum

Ok, now that my skills for creating winter sown only plants for swaps is honed, how about the tags? Now...I am Scottish. While money isn't the primary concern, it thrills me to make something work as cheaply as I can. (believe me, when I spend, I really spend).

I want to make tags that give the information about the plant on the front - plus my id and email for questions. On the back, I want to put the winter sowing forum and WSEO sites as well.

This year I taped paper tags to the pot because a friend bought out cases of packing tape from a defunct office supply store. I tried to "laminate" tags with tape and ended up with a sticky mess. Maggie, our princess kitty, was hopping around with platycodon tags stuck to her tail. No good.

I like the idea of using a hole punch to punch the lip of the container and then attaching a tag with yard or twine to the pot. I think it's important that folks can look at the description without bending down (we put plants on the ground - note to self, bring crates or something to elevate plants). I think it's also important that the tag stay firmly with the pot, but can easily be removed. I also like the idea of the tag being nice enough with enough contact info so that any questions can be directed to the sower.

Things I am considering: Costs. Time. Water and dirt issues....too artsy (I am AR in certain areas).

Any thoughts? Anyone laminate? Cost? Concerns?


clipped on: 09.21.2006 at 03:11 pm    last updated on: 09.21.2006 at 03:11 pm

Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon)

posted by: keithrnjd on 05.05.2006 at 01:24 pm in Carolina Gardening Forum

I have admired these in different beds in Cary, and found one at PDN. Well, I brought one home from PDN today, and after Googling it, am thinking maybe I should take it back. Most of the information I found says its very invasive. Having just eradicated artemesia 'Limelight' from the premises, I am loath to do it all over again.

Any feedback on this plant is appreciated.




clipped on: 09.21.2006 at 02:06 pm    last updated on: 09.21.2006 at 02:06 pm