Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tough Love!

I can watch seedlings grow! I just love to see the new leaves unfold - to "study" how different the cotyledons and then the first leaves look. Heuchera and Helenium are so tiny. In the greenhouse we now have seedlings of:
Aruncus dioius - Goatsbeard
Aster puniclus - Purple stemmed Aster
Sanguisorba officinalis - Great burnet
Salvia nemerosa
Agastache foeniculum - Giant blue hyssop
Verbena bonariensis
Helenium flexuosum
Heuchera villosa
Monarda fistulosa
Betula pendula

Two years ago we laid out my first perennial bed. I bought plants at fall nursery sales - just to see most of them die over the first winter.

Last year that bed was used as a parking spot for some shrubs for most of the spring and summer and now I really want to get the perennial bed started. The size of the bed is approximately 4-5 x 35 meters, so I need an awful lot of plants and decided to grow my own from seeds. And then, when I am at it, I might as well plan for yet another bed.

Perennials are not always as easy to grow from seeds as annuals are. I knew that I would be very busy and wanted to make my odds for success good, so I carefully picked plants that are fairly easy to germinate and grow and two weeks ago I transplanted my first seedlings from the "seed sprouting set-up" under lamps in the office to individual pots in my small and drafty hobby greenhouse.
When we (unexpectedly for me) had a couple of very cold days last week, I was afraid that the small space heater (placed in the greenhouse to keep night temperatures above freezing) wouldn't be able to keep up. What do you then do with 750 seedlings?? You put them in the back of the pick-up truck - in two layers - and park it in the frost-free garage for two days. Temps around 8-10 Celsius and very little light!
I am not sure, but I think that because of the low temperature the plants didn't seem to have any setback because of this "treatment" and are now happily growing in the greenhouse again. Getting ready for transplant are Phlomis tuberosa, Lobelia siphilitica, Papaver anomalum 'Album', Digitalis stewartii, D. parviflora, D. ferruginea and Thalictrum pubescens, Echinecea purpurea 'Alba', E. purpurea 'Primadonna'.
So far, so good - cannot wait to have the beds planted!


  1. Hi Salix! You are such a good mama to your seedlings!Will wait for the pictures of your babies when they are in bloom.

  2. That's a great approach to problem solving for your seedlings. Glad it worked. I wanted to tell you that your picture of Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' led my purchase of said plant which is now beginning to leaf out. I hope to see the pink colors that your picture illustrates.

  3. Your seedlings look amazing. Great work taking care of them. You sure had a creative solution for the frosty night.

    Best wishes, Yvonne

  4. Seedlings are so exciting, so full of hope. Yours are doing well. Good idea to use the garage like that.

  5. Thank you all for your comments.
    Tatyana, for sure I will post pictures - if I am lucky a few will bloom already this summer.
    Macgardens, my Dappled Willow has the pink shoots during the month of June.
    Yvonne, I am really happy with the outcome of my perennial seeding - most of them grow well now.
    Kathy, I agree: excitement and hope!


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