Growing baptisia from seed

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)January 9, 2011

Anyone do this? I have a goodly amount of seed to sow. Here are my questions.

I have read about its long taproot and aversion to transplanting, so wonder if it would be best to sow it in situ. Pots better? (Deep pots?)

Should I sow/grow it in clumps or should I thin to just one seedling? Naturally, I want to encourage it to clump up as quickly as possible, but don't want multiple seedlings to choke themselves out, if that happens.

Does it need scarification? Would I do well to sow it now while it's cold or should I wait until it warms up in the spring?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

Here's what we do at the nursery with B. australis:

- sow 3 seeds per cell (June)
- scarification not required
- transplant into larger pots (August)

So, you should be able to sow now into pots if you'd like, and plant into your garden this spring. You'll likely have to pamper it this year.

Ultimately, it will take 2-3 years to mature, i.e. size and flower production. I've often described it as a very bush/shrub-like perennial in terms of its mature size and form. It is of course, still herbaceous. ;)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 9:51AM
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sharoncl(z5 WI)

I recommend winter sowing them. It's quick and easy and requires very little care.

I don't think you need to worry about transplanting baptisia seedlings, as long as the plants are still small... I've moved lots of self-sown seedlings and they've all done fine.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 5:37PM
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To soften that tough seed coat, I soak B. australis and similar CA native seeds in 3% peroxide for an hour or in warm water overnight. It makes them fragile to handle and the glutinous coating is sticky & hard to handle, but it does increase germination, imo. I use dull toothpicks to handle them. The transplant issue is small when they are young, but becomes more serious as that taproot lengthens and there's definitely something to be said for in situ germination.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 8:07PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I winter-sowed Baptisia australis and B. leucantha 3 years ago, and the seeds were from Prairie Moon nursery and they apparently pre-scarify the seeds and also provide an inoculum which is supposed to help germination. They were winter-sown in February and germinated well. They are now 3 years old in 1 gallon pots since I haven't been able to figure out where to plant them yet (hmmmm). They might have bloomed this year, if they were in the ground, but they haven't bloomed yet. Patience required with these guys!

Baptisia has thick tuberous roots, but in my experience actually does fine with transplanting and root disturbance. I've transplanted the seedlings up to bigger pots a couple times and they did okay. Also, I bought some pot-bound mature Baptisia plants several years ago in November, with thick circling roots. So I repotted and overwintered them in bigger pots, planted them in the Spring, and they've thrived.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 11:34PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks, y'all. This is exactly what I wanted to know. I may go ahead and start them in deep pots now, since spring is always so incredibly busy.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 11:08AM
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