Liatris - Meadow Blazing Star - grow fr seed

mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)October 6, 2011

Do you have experience with growing this plant from seed?

I'm primarily interested in whether I should remove, one by one, by hand, the little spikey parachute things that are attached to the end of the seed BEFORE planting the seed. They don't seem to want to come off on their own when I shake them in a bag. Maybe I need to let them age more, then try shaking again? The seed falls off the flower stalk when I touch the dried bloom, so I feel they are ready to be harvested but those little spikey things stay attached to the end of the harvested seed.

I've yet to have luck with propagating this plant by seed so I'm wondering if I'm not preparing the seed properly, if the seed is simply not viable or if I'm not giving it the conditions it needs to germinate. I'm stubborn and want to be successful. :-)

I have read that not all seed from this plant is viable but I'd think, if the conditions were right, at least one or two would germinate.

If you have personal experience, I'd be most grateful for your advice.


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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Mary, do you know which liatris? Several need an extended moist chill before they will germinate, approx 3 months at average 40F. Others will germinate without the chill but still slowly.

With either type, the chill won't hurt so if you don't know - chill. You are 7b compared to my 8b, but I would sow and place the pots outside on my deck here where they would be exposed to a range of temperatures, swinging back and forth from colder nights to milder days, over many weeks. Or you could sow and put the pots in your refrigerator for 12 weeks or so, bring back to warm.

You can leave the little tufts on, they don't mean the seed is not ripe.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 2:00PM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

Yes, I'm so sorry. I should have included the proper name. It is Liatris ligulistylis - aka Meadow Blazing Star.

Thank you for the helpful information regarding the little tufts. I have read about the seed needing a chill period. I did try that last year by keeping them in the fridge in damp growing medium for 3 months but I've no idea if the seed was harvested at the proper time or ripe. No germination. I also sprinkled seed around under the mother plant last year but they could have been eaten by the birds or rotted before I got the leaves removed this spring. Nothing germinated there, either. This year the mother plants are larger, with lots of seed and the seed appear to my eye to be healthy.

I'll give it another go, both in the fridge and also put some outside in a pot as a winter sown pot and see if, between the two, I can get some germination this time round. Do the newly germinated plants look like a little blade of grass? Maybe I had some germinate in the garden, thought they were wild grass and pulled them up? LOL, I can't believe, for a native plant that grows wild here, that I can't get the seed to germinate. I'm going to keep trying. :-)

I also read about cutting a mature tuber into sections, keeping one eye on each cut section, then planting those to increase the number of plants. I won't try that until I have several strong mature plants and can afford to lose one if I goof up! Have you tried that method of propagation?

My thanks once again for taking time out of your day to help.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 2:45PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

The little seedlings can be hard to spot in the bed when doing Spring cleanup - they start out looking like a little blade of grass :) just as you guessed. They can stay that way for a while, those corms take a little time to develop and become more visible when you are pulling the 'grass'...

L. ligulistylis is one that needs the chill so you did those correctly if the seed was viable.

Liatris can be divided, the usual recommendation is Spring - I don't have a problem dividing in Fall here where my ground rarely freezes - if it does freeze (rarely) its for a period of a very few days and not to any real depth.
I would lift the entire clump, gently break the corms (like very small bulbs) apart with my hands, replant.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 4:02PM
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started_with_bean(Zone 5--MA)

I wintersowed some this past winter, and the germination was quite good, so you should have good luck with your wintersown pot. I'm in Zone 5, so we get plenty cold here. My seeds were just pulled off the plant and thrown on top of the soil,and the container left outside since December. Germination started in April, so that's a good long time to chill! And I concur; they look EXACTLY like grass! There's no flower stalks the first year, so you may have to wait them out before weeding.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:05PM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)


My thanks for this additional helpful information. I'm quite encouraged now regarding winter sowing! :-)


    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 9:33AM
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The first time I winter sowed I used a regular commercial potting mix and got no germination. I then read the composition of the mix on the bag and found that it contained a pre-emergent herbicide. I suggest using a seed starting mix or one that you make your self from peat moss, perlite, and sand.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 9:19AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Susan, a specific seed starting mix isn't the normal product used in winter sowing or sowing outdoors. You may have found a potting mix with a pre emergent included but I've never seen it in any of the brands I've purchased and I don't think it's typical. You make a good point for reading the labels though ;)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 1:50PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Wow! I sure got a lesson in Liatris! Thanks! We have some growing in a patch we let go wild in our front yard. I always wondered why there weren't more of them. We recently went for a drive and saw tons of them growing near the ditches. I guess moisture does play a major factor in their germination. Thanks morz.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 2:17PM
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