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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter Experiments

This last fall I experimented with sowing some Primula seeds, elatior 'Silver Lace Black' and veris, mixed cowslips.  Part of them I planted outdoors, and then covered them with one of my TunLCovers after temperatures got down around freezing.  I looked at them today and they are doing very well, larger than when I planted them and in good condition, P. elatior-

and P. veris-

By contrast, here are the same age seedlings that have been kept under lights all winter.  They are noticeably smaller.  A few still have good color, some were underwatered and died, and one looks pale, not sure what is going on with it.   I'm in the process of putting them in sheltered outdoor conditions on my east-facing front porch to get them ready to start growing with the warmer temperatures of spring, then I can observe further how the two over-wintering methods compare.

Another nice surprise is that the Meadowfoam, Limnanthes douglasii, seedlings that I noticed last fall, which had self-seeded themselves from the plants that I grew last spring, have made it through the winter unscathed.

I was disappointed previously with how much slower the Meadowfoam was to bloom that was direct-sown as compared with the ones I grew indoors under lights and transplanted out in early spring, now I see that they are tough enough to fall-sow or summer-sow and make it through the winter.  They are also called Poached Egg plants and are very cheery.  I may try sowing some in very early spring to see if they can come up in the cooler temperatures.  It is great to find a plant that will naturalize.

Another plant started in late summer and planted out vs growing under lights is yarrow, Achillea, either millefolium 'Cassis' which is red, or filipendula 'Cloth of Gold'.

Here are a couple of Achillea that have been under lights, one looks actually comparable in size to the outdoor plant but partially dried out, the other dried out and died.

I also tried to start some plants from cuttings last fall, here are the ones that survived, some roses and Santolina-

This is not a very good photo, taken without flash, but of Vernonia (Ironweed) seedlings with pretty good growth.  One dried out and lost its leaves but stayed green so I think it will get some new leaves when planted out.  It will be interesting to see if the early start will be enough for them to bloom this year, I haven't grown them before and they may like more watering than I usually give plants in my dry season.

The final surprise outdoors was the first bulb coming up, Galanthus, Snow Drop,

I planted a few more new bulbs last year and am looking forward to seeing them bloom.  Meanwhile, I am now starting seeds of annuals and perennials, a few are chilling in the refrigerator for a month or two, and the rest are already coming up under lights.   It is so cheery to see little seedlings coming up when the garden is pretty bleak outside.

Happy Gardening!



  1. I love being able to start seeds under the grow lights, too. Right now, my tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and tomatillos are growing bigger every day. The way our season is going, I may even plant them out early this year. So exciting!

    1. We've been having really warm weather too! I've seen it happen in Feb. before but it doesn't always last. It would be nice.... As it is I've been getting out cutting off blackberry vines and raking some remaining leaves for mulch. It's great to be able to work outside.

  2. Hannah, I stopped by to return the blog visit and thank you for taking the time to comment on mine. I love planting things, and especially seeing things come back.

    1. Yes, it's really exciting to find new plants that can take care of themselves and adapt to my growing conditions. I hate it when I go to all that work growing things under lights and enjoying the blooms only to find them missing the next year.

  3. I think you'll love the Vernonia...they like a little extra water, but not an unreasonable amount...and those vibrant autumn blooms are worth it :-)

    1. Thanks, Scott, I'm excited to see the Vernonia bloom, but I don't know if it will happen this year or not. I think the Yarrow will probably bloom, and I'm expecting the really exuberant Meadowfoam to be fantastic this year. Last year I had a low fence on it and the deer were reaching over and nibbling it, but this year I have a 5' fence and as long as I remember to close up the gate things should do great.