Confused...more planting out ?s

adidas(6/7)April 22, 2013

I'm taking stock of seedlings...and trying to imagine any of mine being like those "hunk-of-seedlings" that I have seen in photos. Is there a resource that could tell me which seedlings can go out after germinating in the spring and which are better left 'til fall or 'til the following spring? I have got so far Amsonia, Asclepias, flame azalea (def. not this yr!), mtn. laurel, Monarda, etc. etc. Everything is tiny and slow growing!

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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

The only things I leave until fall are those things for which I don't have room and which are 2nd year flowering. It's difficult for me to tell you a 'size' for planting out, but once I can tease the seedlings apart and have enough stem to firm them in the ground, I go-ahead. You also have to consider whether the earth is workable, and I'm not sure about your zone. I usually start around my last frost date so that can be a guide for you. It's amazing how quickly they 'take off' once their feet are in good soil soil without the restrictions of a container. I'll let someone in your zone give you better advice.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Thank-you for your input! It is good advice for any zone! I have a bit more trouble than some because I am not adding to a "garden", I am planting in a damaged area of a wood so while I don't have to worry so much about sun and wind damage on seedlings as they will be sheltered by trees and bushes, I don't have a prepared bed to put them in. I think I'll start w/the spicebushes...they're VERY hardy!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:06AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Adidas, congrats on your seedlings! I have heard that Mtn laurel is difficult to propagate. Can you tell me about that seed, where you got it, how you sowed, etc?

I do use the "hunk-o-seedlings" technique for a few types of seedlings, but usually for those that grow naturally in a clump anyway, such as Sweet Alyssum or Monarda. Otherwise, I generally separate out the seedlings and plant them in small groupings, about 6 inches apart. Sometimes this is a permanent spot, sometimes they get transplanted again. But this way I can evaluate the seedlings as they grow, because they will display a surprising amount of genetic variation in such aspects as bloom time, height, etc.

For trees and shrubs, I pot up the seedlings into small nursery pots or cups, and let them grow that way for a year or 2. You could try planting out the teeny seedlings in your woods, but they are quite vulnerable when they're so small. One year a deer nipped the tops off my Cornus florida over the winter! Rabbits are also a serious hazard to small woody plants and you might need to use barriers. Nevertheless with winter-sowing you can get enough seedlings that hopefully the strongest will survive.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:08AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I usually do the hunk of seedlings for most annuals and perennials and it works great to get a large bushy established look right away. I start planting them out once the seedlings have some true leaves and the soil is workable.

For the few trees and shrubs I usually try to separate them and have potted up some and planted out others. It can be hard to keep the containers well watered and cool during the heat of summer so I put them in a shadier than normal spot. Then I sink them in the veggie garden beds for the winter to keep the roots from freezing.

It is easier to keep them watered if planted in the ground in their permanent home, but they may end up getting covered up by nearby plants when still small or damaged.

For any of my special plants I make a little tepee like cage out of small bamboo stakes or sticks to put over them. It reminds me it is there so I keep it watered and also protects it from getting stepped on by me or the dog. Dragonflies also love to perch on the stick tepees to sun themselves which is an added bonus.

I don't have deer or rabbits here to worry about, but perhaps a little chicken wire cage held down with stakes or sticks would provide enough protection from them.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 11:14AM
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Thanks so much for the input! My greatest dilemma is that I am not here for most of the summer and I think I will have to put most things in shady places in the wood and cross my fingers that the deer don't find them. Terrene, I lost a trillium to what must have been deer a couple of days ago. It bit the stem just below the flower and leaves and left it lying there :( I mean I might have been able to forgive it if it had eaten it but what a waste!

Molanic, I like the idea of the tepees....this place is VERY rocky so some combination of between boulders and little twig tepees would probably be perfect!

Terrene, I spend most of my summers in the western NC mtns. A friend lives in a forest loaded w/mtn laurel, rhodies, azaleas, arbutus etc. I have seen mtn laurel seedlings growing in moss beds and rotting logs...for me what works is collecting some moss or little bits of rotting wood and shaking the seed capsule over these. The seeds germinated after a winter outside. I have germinated mtn laurel seeds in the past but they did not survive...I'd say they are easy to germinate if the seed is fresh and the soil has a certain amt of bacteria/fungus BUT after germination? I don't know what the secret is! I'd be happy to send you some seed capsules if you'd like!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:09PM
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