Starting rain lilies from seed

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)August 14, 2008

Has anyone done this? Several sources on the net say it's easy, but there are no specifics. I just harvested some zephyranthes reginae seed and would love to have more. I thought I'd sow in pots unless I'm better off sowing in the ground. What kind of soil? moisture? sun exposure? Anyone?

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bubba62

I grow hundreds from seed every year, sometimes without trying. The only secret is that the seed loses viability very quickly, so you have to plant them right away. Just sow thinly on regular potting soil, cover very thinly, and make sure the pot gets a good watering and drains well. Then I either enclose the whole pot in a ziplock bag and put it under fluorescent lights, or just leave them outside if it's still warm and water the pots daily. Either way, you'll see little grassy seedlings in about a week, and most of the species will bloom in a year or two from germination. They like as much sun as they can get, as long as they're getting enough water to balance it. Just don't let the seeds dry out during the germination process. Some amaryllis growers float the papery seeds on water until germination occurs, and this works just as well with most of the zephs (they're just small amaryllis, after all.)

Hope this helps-

J

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:06PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

This helps enormously! THANK YOU, Bubba. I just gathered the seed yesterday. Will sow it tomorrow. I am excited! This sounds very do-able.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 7:24PM
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bubba62

No problem - I just posted some pics of other rain lilies for "bloom day" on my blog if you're interested. They're among my favorites.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Transitional Gardener (blog)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 2:07PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Oh my goodness, bubba! What an amazing website. I have sat for more than an hour reading every word and just soaking in the beautiful photographs. Thanks so much for including the link. I appreciate your generous sharing of tips and knowledge that is so far beyond mine. I will check in periodically. (I am SOOO jealous that you live close to PDN. Some day when I am visiting my family in east Tennessee, I hope to make the trip there just once.)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 10:00PM
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bubba62

Thanks so much, Donnab. I went back to work (teaching) this week, and am suffering severe gardening withdrawal, both actual and virtual. Blog entries will probably be very sporadic for a while as I reintegrate myself into the workforce, but it was fun for the summer. Most of my knowledge of gardening is based on years of reading, gardening, and killing lots of plants, so I'm no authority, but I love to experiment.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 3:56AM
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jodik_gw

I must thank you, too, Bubba, for sharing this information... though I live in the north, I keep a pot full of pale pink flowered Zephyranthes on my east windowsill. I've had them since last fall, when a dear friend in Florida sent me some bulbs. They just finished blooming recently, and I adore them!

I'm hoping to add a few more flower colors to the collection, and give crossing them a try... just for fun! I'm glad to find out that they're as easy to germinate and grow as Hippeastrums!

Your blog is amazing! The photographs are excellent, and the writing, superb! I've bookmarked it, and plan to read through more when I have a chance. I'm so jealous... I wish I lived in a climate that allowed me to plant a wider variety of things outdoors, and leave them there over winter! Carrying pots en masse up and down a flight of stairs every spring and fall is getting old, not to mention, hard on my weakening legs! Oh, to retire southward!

Anyway... wonderful blog, and very useful rain lily information... thank you so much for sharing!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 12:16PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thought I'd report in that it's been ten days and I have baby rainlilies germinating. One of the benefits of the six inches of rain Fay has brought in so far. :)
Thanks, Bubba!
And, if you see this, Bubba, what do you consider to be the longest blooming crinum?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 3:57PM
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west_texas_peg(8a West Cen TX)

I have Citrina and a Peach colored one, white and a white with pink tinge....would love to swap for something different.

Peggy

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 1:16AM
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bubba62

Congrats on the quick germination, DonnaB - rain really does help, doesn't it? I'm hoping for a little over the next couple of days, since things are looking stressed here and all four rain barrels are now empty.

As far as the crinums go, that's a tough question, since they're kind of sporadic, like big rain lilies that respond according to rainfall, but I keep coming back to Emma Jones - it's been in bloom for more almost two months now, and keeps putting up scapes. All of the x powellii clones (pink and white) have a lot of rebloom, too, and there are "Ellen Bosanquets" in the neighbor hood that have put out a lot of flowers this summer, too. I think rebloom relates to the fact that these hybrids don't set seed (as do straight species), so the flowering mechanism doesn't shut down as readily; they also seem to straddle the bloom season between parent species, so that extends things as well.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 4:17AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks, Bubba. I have been eyeing Emma Jones ever since I read Ogden's book that you recommended, and especially since I saw the picture of it on your website. What a stunner.

I got my first crinums only 3 or 4 years ago, just the common milk and wine lilies. I traded a dozen rooted rose cuttings for 8 bulbs. (I think I got the long end of that stick, but I didn't know it at the time. :) Of course, it took them a couple of years to settle in, but once they bloomed, I was hooked. They seem to bloom more every year. For years, I have grieved that I can't grow Oriental lilies here, but no more. Crinums are superior because of their repeat bloom.

Anyway, I will be on the lookout for Emma. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 10:06AM
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jodik_gw

I grieve that I can't grow tender bulbs, such as Crinum, Hippeastrum and Zephyranthes in my gardens... unless they're in pots, ready to be moved indoors for the cold weather of winter.

I do enjoy Lilies of different types here in my zone 5 garden, but I'm more of an "Amaryllid" sort of person!

DonnaB - check out this Crinum link I found while researching! I was looking for dwarf types that would do well in pots...

Here is a link that might be useful: Crinums In East Texas

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 7:58PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Oh yes! Marcelle is "world famous in the south". I love her website and have learned alot from her. Thanks for the link. I bet others will be fascinated with it.

Isn't it perverse of us to always want what we can't have? You want crinums and rain lilies. I want peonies and campanulas. :)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 11:04PM
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jodik_gw

I have a dear friend in Florida that would love to grow Lilacs and other northern plants, and I'd kill to have a bed of Amaryllis that I didn't have to lift in fall!

It IS a little perverse to want what we can't grow in our own climates! I'm very thankful that most things I adore can be grown in pots! I'm a bulb freak! Amaryllids are my favorites!

One of these days, I'm going to get me a dwarf Crinum that I can pot culture! I'm not sure where I'll put it, but I'm sure I can squeeze it in somewhere! You wouldn't believe what my apartment windowsills look like in winter! And from the outside, the grow lights must look like an airport at night! My bulb collecting is an obsession!

I wonder if Peonies could be lifted and refrigerated in your area... to give them the cold dormancy they need? I know several people who do that with Tulips and such...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 12:12PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

Jeff, what do you do with your new seedlings the first winter? I lost all of mine keeping the pots outside, even in a protected spot, and am looking to try something different this year. Do they need a dry dormancy (without freezing) at this stage or will the bulbs be too small and dessicate? Thanks for any info that will help. I've got some 'Batik' in bloom this week and would love to see what progeny I can raise. Karen

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:13PM
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bubba62

I do keep my first year seedlings in a coldframe through the first winter, and I wouldn't risk letting them dry out completely, although they don't need nearly as much water as during the summer. Some, such as Habranthus tubispathus, produce foliage mainly in winter, so will need a bit more water in winter - they need periodic summer drought to bloom well. I don't keep any outside in pots all winter- anything in pots loses a zone or two of hardiness for me as opposed to planting the same plant in the ground. Hope that makes sense!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 4:31AM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

Makes sense, thanks. I've done this goldilocks (not too cold ... not too dry ...) dance with other tiny bulb/seedlings but they were hardier species than the rain lilies. I actually meant to bring the zephyranthes inside last time I grew them but forgot, and they turned out not to be the forgiving type. Guess I just need to build that cold frame this year.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 1:33PM
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bubba62

I think you'll be glad you did - I could live without a greenhouse (and may have to, if the latest predictions re. Hurricane Hanna come to pass!), but not without coldframes.

DonnaB, peonies of almost all kinds grow and bloom really well around here, as long as they're not planted too deep - have you tried them? You might be pleasantly surprised. I have to admit that they look pretty roughed up around this time of year, since they're not used to such a long growing season, but they always come back in spring and look fantastic. Can't say as much for campanulas; they have drainage and humidity issues in the summer, but they're not among my favorites, so I can't say I've tried very hard with them.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 4:07AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have had Festiva Maxima (which is one of the few that grow this far south according to the "experts") for five years, and THIS year I finally got three blooms. They immediately flopped down under a rain. Like you said, they look dreadful this time of year too. The jury's still out...

Now, back to the baby rain lilies. I have them outside on my deck right now where they get water everyday in their six inch pots (It looks like about six seeds have sprouted in each pot so far). I don't have a coldframe. How do you think they would do in an unheated basement under lights? That's what I had been thinking...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:45PM
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bubba62

I think that would be the perfect winter location for them; I'd grow mine in the garage under lights if I had more space, but I reserve that for things that require a bit more warmth, such as seedlings of gesneriads, palms, and bletillas. The zephs are a little tougher than those things (and somewhat expendable, given the quantity of seed most of them produce), so they're relegated to the coldframe for the winter.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 6:19PM
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jodik_gw

Since I'm so far north, I'll sow my newly acquired seeds indoors and keep them under lights. I do hope they'll survive the winter indoors without too much trouble. They should be fine... I'll treat them very similar to my hippeastrum seedlings, keeping them moist and warm, and giving them as much light as I can.

I just adore the one pot of pink flowered adult bulbs I already have, and I can't wait to have other colors blooming along with those wonderful pinks!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 5:00PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I am resurrecting this thread because I have been harvesting seeds again and needed reminding how to sow them. For those who are interested, the seeds I harvested last year are blooming this year. I think that's a wonderful return on very little effort. Thanks, Bubba, for your expertise.

If you have not harvested seed, I have learned to watch the plants everyday after they bloom. Reginae is the one I am watching. Candida seems to make offsets under ground so I haven't collected its seeds. The seed pods start as a swollen place on the stalk about an inch below the bloom. It will be a three part pod. As the seeds ripen, the outer cover of the pod turns from green to brown to almost white and translucent. I check them every morning when I am out puttering. When I see the white sheaths, I check again by mid afternoon. They split open and the seeds just fall out. If you catch them just right there are about 20 ebony black seeds in each pod.
Now, if we could just get a little hurricane....:0)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 2:13PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Hi, folks
In an attempt to keep responses to a reasonable level, I am posting this offer here. I have more seed of zephyranthes reginae than I can use, and I really hate to throw them away! They must be sown when they are fresh. So, here's the deal. If you would like some seed, please e-mail me. I'll send you my address and you can send me a SASE. The seeds are free. When I run out of seed, I'll post here. First come, first served!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 3:43PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

PDN = Plant Delights Nursery

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 12:28AM
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selene32607(180511110261954)

Does anyone has seeds for yellow lilies and or white and darker pink? I do have the anemic pink and although I love them I would have loved some other colors. I live in FLorida
Thanks

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 4:34PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Note that seed from Zephyranthes Grandiflora is sterile.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 9:26AM
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oleg9grower

"Note that seed from Zephyranthes Grandiflora is sterile."
My Z. grandiflora seed does not give at all. In the scientific literature says that he is sterile.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 6:00AM
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KatsLilies(8a)

I have been successful using clear plastic containers that "spring mix" salad comes in for growing out seeds during the fall/winter under Daylight grow lights 12 hours a day setting. Growing mix of vermiculite mixed with peat moss depth about an 1.5" with .25" over the seeds. Will remove the cover once the seedlings touch the lid. I use a heating tool to melt drainage holes in the bottom of the container & air exchange holes in the lid. Once spring/summer comes I'll transfer to larger containers for summer grow out. Have been successful with most of the rain lily seeds this way.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 5:30PM
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