Problem Seeds

flutterbug(NH 5b)March 21, 2014

I have been growing plants from seed for quite a few years now. I have attempted many different plants from seed and I have lots of successes. However there are certain plants that I just can't get to grow, no matter how many times I try. If something I try fails and it is a known "difficult" to grow variety I can usually accept it and decide I will just have to buy that particular plant already grown. The thing that I can't get past is when I continually fail at one that is talked about as easy to grow from seed. I thought others might have this happen to them as well. Perhaps others would like to share the ones they continually fail with and maybe others could share how they have had success with those. Or if nothing else we can just vent and feel better when we see we are not alone in our frustration!
Right now I am dwelling on the fact that every year I try to grow some Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemum syn. Dalea purpureum) from seed. Every time it germinates no problem and usually I even get some plants past the hardening off stage. However they never turn into plants that flower. They always disappear over the winter. I have very well drained sandy soil. So it would seem I have the right conditions for what they need. I have even tried direct sowing and that did not lead to any plants either! Another I have on my mind is Ipomopsis rubra. It is very similar to my experience with the Dalea.
Please share your "problem" plants!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Red Salvia - I touch the seeds and they never even germinate no matter what. I leave them to the wife to handle since we love them for the hummers.

Alyssum if I try to start it indoors. I can direct seed it fine but indoors it is a total loss.

Then there is my Wave Petunias. Not a total loss as some of them do germinate...eventually and do ok but nothing like the plain pets I start. But wife and DIL consistently have almost 100% success so I just steal cuttings from theirs. :)

On the Purple Prairie Clover are you scarifying the seeds? Direct seeding? Have you tried another location to see if it will over-winter better? Heavy winter mulching?


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 4:01PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Gazania, I figured it was possibly the seed the first couple years because I got zero germination. Last year I let my two year old daughter sow some of the seeds where ever she wanted outside. She probably got 100% germination but was so excited by it that she picked them so she could show me LOL.

This year I sowed 50 cells and have had 2 germinate. I think it is time to move on.......


    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 3:56PM
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This year, verbena and aster have been my problem plants. For verbena, I've sowed 150+ seeds; the picture below represents the entirety of that effort. To date, I have one aster out of 50+ seeds. Said aster is currently 1/2 inch tall; I'm not ready to declare victory as yet.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Delphiniums. So lovely, so perfect for my zone 3 harsh winters. But man, hard to germinate! Trying some cold treatment this year, maybe this will be my year....

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 9:48PM
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flutterbug, I have both of these growing in my garden & they self seed. The Ipomopsis rubra comes up as thick as grass around the plants, the prairie clover puts up volunteers but not quite so prolifically. So...on that note, I will tell you how they come up naturally & it may give you an idea how to sow them successfully. My soil is sandy too.

The Ipomopsis seed ripens in late summer & the seeds sprout in fall and through out winter around the plants. These winter over as small plants and are ready to take off in spring. I have to seriously thin them. I'd suggest planting them in late summer in the ground. One year I had one plant in my courtyard among prickly pear cactus. Never again, I was pulling seedlings by the handfuls around cactus. They are a biennial plant so you usually do plant those in early fall.

The purple prairie clover doesn't start coming up until later in spring. They definitely need cold stratification. I originally purchased a plant so I always get a few babies close by, you can move them if they are small enough, after that they are more difficult due to a tap root but many times the plant will die after moving. I think you need to sow them where they are to grow in the fall. Sow a bit thickly & you should get something.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:08PM
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flutterbug(NH 5b)

Thanks for the tips!
TexasRanger, I am going to bet that you are absolutely right about them needing to be direct sown. I have a hard time keeping seeds where I sow them. I think the birds always get them. I read a good idea somewhere about putting a layer of burlap over the seeds until they germinate. This fall I will try that out.

ZQGardens, I am not sure which type of Verbena you are growing but I know Verbena bonariensis has way better germination when sown in fluctuating temperatures. I had tried them a few different ways one year and the winter sown in a milk jug did awesome. (They were actually spring sown in the Milk Jug type greenhouse. I just put some out that way this year as well. I also had success leaving them out on an unheated porch one year. I no longer have that room unheated so I lost that luxury, because that was where I'd germinate all my seeds that needed cool and/or fluctuating temps. The Verbena seemed to germinate in early to mid April here. If you are growing one of the other types. I know the V. canadensis has a low percent of germination.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:06AM
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Buttercrunch lettuce.
Not one germinated out of hundreds.

Other lettuce - fine.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 3:37PM
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flutterbug(NH 5b)

I direct sowed some lettuce seeds before and didn't get a single one either!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 7:51AM
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Young.Gardener123(7b NC)

Beets- I sowed a whole packet this year for the first time and got maybe 4 seedlings..... -_-
Up until now, everything of mine has grown just fine.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 11:05PM
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I have always had a hard time with asters, until last year. I tried Tower asters and they germinated really well. This year I sowed them again plus a different aster and again the towers germinated fine, the others, I think I have one that germinated.

I bought 8 different types of petunia seed this year, 5 of them I got close to 100% germination, the other three I got zilch. Which has never happened to me with petunias before. Avalanche Red, Denim Shockwave, and Baby Ducks - total loss.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:43AM
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flutterbug(NH 5b)

It's weird how sometimes things work and others they don't! I have been using the farmer's almanac gardening by the moon this year just for fun and I haven't had any failures aside from forgetting to water something too long :( I actually have an Ipomopsis flowering now!! I also have some successful moonflower vines this year which I haven't had luck with in the past. I think if we keep trying we eventually are successful!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 4:57PM
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