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seeds and tubers

Posted by okiedokiemydog North Carolina (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 23:30

I have a general question about seeds and tubers and i did not know which forum to place the question. I hope this forum is okay for this question. When seeds are planted for different plants, will the plant develop tubers as it continues to grow. For plants that can be started from either seeds or tubers.For example, canna lilies are sold as seeds and tubers/bulbs. Will the plants that are started from seeds eventually develop tubers/bulbs over the years as it continues to grow and spread? I know this sounds like a dumb question but i haven't been able to find an answer to this question.
The canna lilies growing in my gardens have tubers, and that's how they propagate. I did not know that I could collect seeds somehow from these plants. I am just getting into gardening these last few years so i am still learning. I hope the question makes sense and is not too confusing. Thanks in advance for an answer. bea


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: seeds and tubers

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 23:57

It's not a confusing question and Yes, you can start things that grow from tubers and bulbs from seed - lily's, onions, scilla etc, all possible from seed. In the case of canna though, keep in mind that while you'll get a canna plant, it may not be the same color as its parent that you are growing in your garden.

Cannas have very hard seeds and that can make them slow to germinate. Help the germination process by removing some of the seed coat ( called scarification). You can accomplish that with sandpaper, a file, even fingernail clippers, you just want enough of a nick, not too deep, until you see white (the endosperm). Your goal is just enough of a hole in the seed coat so that water can get through.

There is an entire canna forum here on GW, you might want to read through a few of the threads on growing them from seed...

Here is a link that might be useful: Canna Forum - from seed


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RE: seeds and tubers PS

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 0:39

If I didn't quite answer your question above when you asked specifically if the bulbs, corms or tubers would develop/form if you start those types plant from seed, yes they will. They will have the same type structures as the parent plants over time.


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RE: seeds and tubers

I totally agree. I find this stuff fascinating too.

There's also the patience issue. Most people would rather buy something that's reasonably sure of providing a show fairly quickly. Wonder how long it takes to get a nice, fat rhizome from a Canna seed? Although I've tried to germinate these seeds many times, I've never seen a Canna sprout, so have no idea. There is no mystery with a tuber, as said, you know what the leaves and flowers will be, for sure. It's so easy to have Cannas from tubers, seeds seem like an unnecessarily difficult hurdle to jump, JMHO.

Counter to what seems logical, seeds aren't always the easiest or best way to get started. Besides a few annuals, seeds really aren't my style, but so many who do a lot with them have such great things to say about winter sowing. That might be something that appeals to you.

Mirabilis jalapa is a common plant that makes a giant tuber and is easily started from seed. That might be one you'd like to play with if the plant appeals to you. Dahlia.

Sweet potato vines also make an actual potato, even if started from a cutting.

Our 'friend,' pokeweed, is another example, although usually discovered in frustration of trying to dig out what turns out to be a giant tuber. Dandelion and Canada thistle are also guilty in this area.

If I'm reading between the lines correctly, I get the sense you're of a somewhat frugal mind regarding gardening, so have an interest in starting the least expensive way with any given plant, and possibly overwintering of tropical and marginally hardy plants. Please don't take offense if not, certainly none intended, that's my M-O as they say on cop shows, and you said you are a relatively new gardener. If these ideas are appealing, I might encourage you to check out some of the ideas in the frugal forum, and propagation forum. Also, learning which annuals might really be perennials (and which can be saved and how,) is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. Tubers/rhizomes/bulbs that can be saved in a dormant state for winter are a great way to 'accumulate' some much more unusual landscaping.


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RE: seeds and tubers

Hi bea. I just thought I would put my two cents in. I grew canna from seed this year that I purchased from the sample seed shop. I nicked the coat, soaked the seed for a few hours in tepid water, planted them in a large sour cream container (with drain holes) about an inch deep, and covered them with plastic wrap in April. Your area is warmer, so maybe March for you.. Once they sprouted about a week and a half later, I removed the plastic. No lights, just put them near a southern window. I planted them out into a barrel planter in full sun after danger of frost and they were blooming by July. They are still blooming away and the hummingbirds are enjoying them. I don't know how big the tuber is, but I will be digging it up anyway. I will be collecting more seed too, so in case they don't make it over the winter, I will still have canna next year. BTW, I have grown Dahlia from seed and the tuber was good sized by autumn. Sue


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RE: seeds and tubers

Regarding the frugality issue, it can be cheaper in time, effort, and frustration to buy a tuber or other vegetative offset of a really great named variety, grow it well, and divide the plant. Just depends on what you want to do - if you want more of the exact same plant, start with a tuber - if you want to exercise your green thumb and/or surprise yourself, start with seed.

For some plants, you'll never see seeds available commercially - chocolate cosmos comes to mind. In fact, although my chocolate cosmos flowers prolifically, I've never seen it set seed.

A big advantage to starting from seed is that you avoid the possibility of propagating disease along with tubers. A big disadvantage is that seed can take longer to reach flowering size. By definition, a tuberous plant is perennial in its own climate, and it may not flower from seed until it is several years old.

Never tried canna, but dahlias are straightforward from seed, they usually reach flowering size the first year, and it sure can be fun to see what you get.


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RE: seeds and tubers

Regarding the frugality issue, it can be cheaper in time, effort, and frustration to buy a tuber or other vegetative offset of a really great named variety, grow it well, and divide the plant. Just depends on what you want to do - if you want more of the exact same plant, start with a tuber - if you want to exercise your green thumb and/or surprise yourself, start with seed.

For some plants, you'll never see seeds available commercially - chocolate cosmos comes to mind. In fact, although my chocolate cosmos flowers prolifically, I've never seen it set seed.

A big advantage to starting from seed is that you avoid the possibility of propagating disease along with tubers. A big disadvantage is that seed can take longer to reach flowering size. By definition, a tuberous plant is perennial in its own climate, and it may not flower from seed until it is several years old.

Never tried canna, but dahlias are straightforward from seed, they usually reach flowering size the first year, and it sure can be fun to see what you get.


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