Inside Stories

2013 seed-grown Pelargonium, started indoors last March

2013 seed-grown Pelargonium, started indoors last March

Thursday, the 23rd, we turned our back on winter. This was the day the normal temperatures nudged up from -8/-19 to -8/-18. It’s a start. Last year, I marked the day with pictures from the garden in summer. I’ll do that again soon. But today, a look at what’s been happening indoors.

I don’t like to start a lot of seeds early in the house, except those that may need a wet, warm period before going outdoors for a dormancy-breaking cold period. I don’t have a rig of lights and shelves; and window light boosted with a desk lamp or two tends to produce spindly seedlings. And in many cases, plants started outdoors in early spring quickly catch up to plants started indoors in January and February.

But last summer, my Pelargoniums (zonal geraniums) didn’t bloom until late summer, so I’ve started them earlier this year — from seeds collected from last year’s plants. People grow Pelargoniums as windowsill plants in winter, so I think my seedlings (seven so far) should be all right, though it will be three months before they can go outdoors.

newly sprouted Pelargoniums

newly sprouted Pelargonium seeds (collected from flowers above)

And my Cyclamens (hederifolium and coum) were so impressive this summer that I sowed the remaining seeds (purchased in October 2010) along with fresh seeds from my plants. The C hederifolium are sprouting after less than three weeks. I can see ten in this picture. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) The little pink pearl (far right) is the newly formed corm. It will send up one leaf and then grow for a while before producing another.

Cyclamen hederifolium coming up

Cyclamen hederifolium coming up

There is differing advice on germinating Cyclamen seeds. Some sources say keep them in the dark, others say they need light. These C hederfolium came up in room light. The C coum haven’t come up yet, and I have covered the trays to see whether shutting out the light will help. The seeds I received from the BC Alpine Garden Club (eight packets of C hederifolium, coum, persicum, graecum, and cilicium) are under a table for now.

I had a few Cyclamens survive outdoors last winter, but many more didn’t make it. The survivors then grew very little, or not at all, over the summer. I left a few more out this winter, in the garden and in containers, and will try again next winter, as I want to grow more of them but don’t want to keep them as houseplants.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium and coum (bright pink in foreground)

I also sowed a tray of Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower). Pulsatilla seed has short viability — sow it or throw it. I thought I would give them a few weeks’ warmth and then put them out in the snow for the rest of the winter, but they went and sprouted. Of 35 sown, 27 have now come up. I think the seeds may be from a red-flowering plant (‘Rote glocke’), but the label was lost. They could also be from purple or white flowers. I don’t know how well they will do indoors. Sprouting seeds is often easy, but keeping little seedlings growing can be less so. I will find a place for them in a cool basement room under lights, the Cyclamens as well. I have a lot of seed-grown Pulsatillas already and didn’t really want 30 more. I may have to turn what’s left of the front lawn into a Pulsatilla meadow.

Pulsatilla vulgaris sproutlings

Pulsatilla vulgaris sproutlings

purple pasqueflower, Pulsatilla vulgaris

purple pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris

'Rote glocke'

‘Rote glocke’

white pasqueflower

white pasque flower

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