Growing the new echinaceas from seed?

slazin(z8 BC)April 19, 2012

Hi! I discovered a mail order source for seeds for almost all the new varieties of echinacea such as the Secret Series, and Hot Lava, Even Cheesier, etc, but I am really puzzled. I understand that seeds from these are sterile, and the plants are usually propagated by tissue culture. So how can someone have a business selling these seeds? Will they actually come true from seeds? Has anyone any experience growing these from seed?

Thanks for (perhaps) helping me not waste a lot of money! Or (perhaps) prompting me to go spend wayyy too much!


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Don't buy these seeds. They are not true from seeds. If you want them, you'll need to buy plants. There is a seed variety called 'Cheyenne Spirit.' it's not easy to find and expensive now but I bet it will be cheaper next year. It gives a good mix of colors. If you want the Echinacea with double blooms, buying plants is the only option right now.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 4:47AM
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Jellito Seeds is selling "Cheyenne Spirit" for 18 euros a packet (!)

They do have good quality seeds though. I'm growing another newish Echinacea variety obtained from them and have a good crop of seedlings growing.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:51AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Last Spring I bought some relatively expensive Echinacea seeds from Swallowtail, 'Pow wow wild berry', 'Bravado', and Primadonna White'. Had very good germination, and I am happy to say that ALL the seedlings made it through the winter and are growing nicely. Some are bigger than others, but there is some degree of variation amongst seedlings that is natural.

The seedlings are doing much better than the 'Prairie Splendor' plants that came from Bluestone late last summer. They were 3 replacement plants of the Spring plants that were in abysmal shape, and now only 2 of the replacements survived the winter, and both are measly compared to the seedlings. Ugh.

The Big Sky plants don't seed true. I don't know about other Ech. cultivars from seed. Seeds are relatively inexpensive compared to plants, and fun to experiment with.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Named forms of Echinacea hybrida ARE propagated by tissue culture and seeds will not come true to form. It is nothing to collect seeds from various selections of hybrida and sell over the Internet but there is no guarantee any of them will look anything like the parent plant. 'Cheyenne Spirit' is a seed strain rather than a named cultivar, therefore the wide range of coloring available. The others named - Pow Wow, Bravado, Primadonna - are all cultivars of Echinacea purpurea which should come true to form.

In addition to all the named hybrida cultivars being propagated by TC, most are patented plants as well, which restricts any propagation by asexual means. Oddly, many patented plants tend also to have sterile seeds so that asexual propagation is the only viable method :-) And as many of them are hybrids as well, replication to look just like the parent can only be done clonaly.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:13PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Gardengal, can you please explain a little more the difference between growing a seed strain and growing seeds from a cultivar? I'm not really sure what you mean by a seed strain and when I googled it, got lots of hits about Cannabis seed strains!

I've always wondered how they develop "seed strains" and make sure the seeds are true to the cultivar, etc. And how cross-pollination affects the genetics. For example, is it necessary to keep all the "Pow wow" Echinacea plants isolated to get true Pow wow seeds?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 2:59AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

Buying the seeds won't be worth the time and effort for their cost. I think it's fun to experiment... but there is only a slight chance you will get something different then the standard purple form... but again... the odds are against you.

A few years back.. i collected random seeds from all of my purchased varieties (many colors and forms)... and out of 50+ plants... i got two that weren't purple in color. Below is the first time they bloomed during the second year. I am hoping they are better this third year... more consistent color and form. So i got a decent red that held it's color decently (better then the Hot Lava i have).. but it had short petals.. not consistent form. The orange one was similar, but even more poorly formed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 9:54AM
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terrene(5b MA)

"Buying the seeds won't be worth the time and effort for their cost."

I spent about $40 on seeds from Swallowtail last year, wanted to try interesting cultivars. Some seeds did well and and others didn't. The Echinacea seedlings are quite vigorous, but we'll see how they bloom this year. Physostegia 'Crystal Peak' is hanging on. Digitalis 'Excelsior Hybrids' are beautiful big clumps. OTOH, the Digitalis 'Camelot' and Aquilegia 'Origami' seedlings did poorly and most did not make it over the winter.

Relative to the total amount of money I've spent on plants that have kicked the bucket, seeds are cheap.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:38AM
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The bunch of seedlings I have coming along (from Jelitto) are "Prairie Splendor".

Of the "Pow Wow Wild Berry" that I started from another seed source last year, only 2-3 of 7 seem to have survived the very mild winter. I have some plants of Bravado started from seed a couple of years ago.

I plan to use the seed option more in coming years for Echinaceas, seeing that the few highly hyped and highly priced hybrid plants I've obtained have mostly performed as temperennials here.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Nancy zone 6

I know everyone hates the Big Sky series, but I have Sundown-I think it was from that series-that I've had about 4 years & have seen seedlings from it. All but one have looked just like the parent plant, & the parent plants have all come back each year. I have Harvest Moon too, its seedlings came up purple though.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:27PM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

"Buying the seeds won't be worth the time and effort for their cost."

Seeds are definitely the way to go for plenty of plants... i have 4 trays of various plants in growth now.. but i am only referring to the original poster's note about trying out the seed of the newer fancy varieties of echinacea.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:59PM
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