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Growing Acanthostachys strobilacea from seed

Growing Acanthostachys strobilacea from seed

Acanthostachys strobilacea

Basic plant info

Acanthostachys strobilacea is a tropical plant from the bromeliads family that natively grows in south America. In nature it grows as an epiphyte like other bromeliads. It has a drooping look which makes it suitable for hanging baskets or positions on the shelves. It needs quite a lot of light and tolerates drought. The best option to kill it is by overwatering. Especially during the winter when it grows much slower. Its colorful inflorescent resemble tiny pineapple.

Collecting seeds

When the flower is pollinated (it can be self pollinated), small fruits start to develop. As the inflorescent loses vivid color and turns dark brown, fruits are most likely ripe and seeds fully developed. At the beginning, they contain a lot of moisture and can eventually dry out. The fruit contains sticky substance and the seeds tend to stick to your fingers when you squeeze them out of the fruit. You can easily wash them, or use water to dilute the gluey substance when collecting the seeds. The seeds and the fruits have a really pleasant fragrance, I’m not sure about the flavor though. I’m not keen on experimenting with possibly poisonous fruit. 🙂

Sowing the seeds

Like most of the tropical and subtropical plants, you should sow the seeds as soon as you collect them. They don’t need dormancy of any kind and lose viability quickly. I started germinating the seeds immediately. The seeds sprouted in only one week with extremely high germination rate. Acanthostachys strobilacea needs very porous and easily draining substrate, just as any other Bromeliaceae epiphytes. To make the appropriate substrate, I mixed peat, substantial amount of perlite and a bit of compost, compacted the mix lightly and placed the seeds on top. I covered the seeds with a millimeter of silica sand to keep the seeds evenly moist. I misted the surface daily just to make sure the top layer didn’t dry out.

<i>Acanthostachys strobilacea</i>
Seeds have sprouted and tiny plantlets emerged in about a week

Seedlings

It only took a week for the seeds to start germinating. The seeds are decent sized, so they should start growing vigorously from the start. Since the germination rate was high, they were starting off already a bit congested. When the seedlings get large enough to be picked up using your fingers, at 3 or 4 leaf stage, it’s easy to separate them and plant them individually into easy draining substrate. Since bromeliads are susceptible to root rot if water doesn’t drain well enough, they should be planted into smaller sized pots first and gradually up-potted. Terra-cotta pots are much safer option than plastic containers.

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Growing Hibiscus rosa-sinensis from seed

Growing Hibiscus rosa-sinensis from seed

This post is as far away from cold-hardy as it gets. This time, I tried growing tropical hibiscus seeds. After growing and hybridizing temperate Hibiscus moscheutos and later Hibiscus coccineus, I added completely non-hardy tropical Hibiscus rosa-sinensis to the list.

How hard can it be?

When I first tried growing the seeds, they were old and haven’t been kept in ideal conditions. None of the seeds germinated. I have successfully germinated at least 2 years old seeds of temperate Hibiscus moscheutos before, so I expected at least some success with the tropical variety as well. Seeds were not that old after all, 6 months at most.

The second time, I used fresh seeds and soon noticed they started sprouting. They emerged as typical Hibiscus with the same cotyledon as its siblings before. The only evident difference was the smooth glossy texture of the leaves.

Leaves are dark brown on top with reddish-brown underside.

Brown leaves!

Soon after germination, first sets of true leaves emerged and they immediately started gaining red color under LED grow lights. Temperate hibiscus seedlings could get it, but it never got that extreme. Leaves that are originally dark green turned chocolate brown when the red leaf pigmentation formed. New leaves start light green and color-up as they mature. They really look unique with that dark colored leaves. Under LED grow light, they appear almost completely black.

Seedling diversity

From the very beginning, leaves of the seedlings looked different. Since these are most likely juvenile leaves, they could eventually become identical. They both have leaves with 3 lobes. One of the seedlings have extremely thin lobes. I’m new to the tropical hibiscus seedlings so I got quite surprised by both its appearance and the fact how different their leaf shape is.

I will grow these two seedlings as potted plants and I’m looking forward to see how they develop. Their growth is getting very vigorous now. I’m afraid they could soon run out of space I can offer them, but for now, they are doing great. I might write an update when they mature and possibly even start flowering.

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Unknown bamboo seeds: part 2

Unknown bamboo seeds: part 2

Growing bamboo seedlings again

I already started a post about growing bamboo seeds again this winter. Among many seeds I ordered online from a Chinese vendor on Aliexpress, I decided to try their bamboo seeds as well. Later I found that most of the received seeds were fake. Instead of stuff I ordered, I received all kind of weeds – perhaps I’ll write about growing those one day as well.

Spectabilis seedling on the left, Moso on the right

Bamboo seeds were true Phyllostachys seeds, the puzzle remains, though, their true ID. I ordered Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ and Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ seeds. First one is readily available all the time, so it’s most likely correct, but the second one doesn’t flower at the moment which means it’s most likely fake. I assume that both seed packs had Moso seeds in them.

LED grow lights

Like all my latest seedlings, I’ve used full spectrum LED grow lights which proved to work very well, especially with Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings. In the beginning, seedlings were slow to start and I expected that to happen with Moso seedlings. None of Moso seedlings I’ve tried growing could compete with other bamboo seedlings, they seem to be delicate and resent everything.

Darker green leaves of Moso seedlings. Newest leaves show nutrient deficiency

Later I noticed that grow lights don’t work as efficient as my previous LED chips. Other plants were also less vigorous, Drosera carnivores didn’t color-up as much as they could. Bamboo seedlings have a bit longer internodes than I remember which could be result of lower light intensity.

Yellow-ish colored seedlings

Some of the seedlings came out with some pigmentation issues. Affected seedlings were not completely albinic, yet, they were yellow or very pale green. Their leaves were delicate and didn’t stay alive long, they just shriveled and dried out. Lack of proper pigmentation resulted in extremely slow growth and much slower shooting cycle. To delay leaf loss of yellow leaved seedlings, I placed the seedlings further away from the light source and shaded them behind other plants.

The strange thing is, the seeds from both packs had different numbers of yellow seedlings. Moso pack hardly had any, while most of the Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ wannabe seeds were sickly and yellow. Perhaps the seeds are not the same after all!

Small and pale seedlings. Larger darker green seedlings look crappy due to low light levels

Too early to ID

Seedlings are much larger now and they do well, especially considering they were neglected so far. Shoots of seedlings from both seed packs look like the Moso seedlings I’ve grown in the past. So far, they were not properly fed to show the nicely colored purple oral setae, I’ll see if they do color-up when I plant them separately. With a lot of imagination, tiny culms do seed to be a bit fuzzy, but it’s way too early to tell.

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Variegated seedling’s sensitivity to full sun

Variegated seedling’s sensitivity to full sun

Scorching sun

At first,leaves were not damaged at all.
At first,leaves were not damaged at all.

Shooting season is over and all the new shoots are now fully grown and branched out. At first, there was no issues related to direct sun exposure. I suspect the problem started when the sun position got high enough and its strength became harmful for delicate plants. I observed first signs of leaf damage as soon as the shoots started branching out. Then damage became more and more evident and even the newest leaves immediately got damage, some even before unfolding. Spraying the bamboo with insecticide and fungicide didn’t help much. Leaves were a bit healthier, but that could be just because the leaves started getting less variegated at the same time, changing from completely yellow to yellow with green stripes. Sun is also starting to lose some of it’s strength as days are getting shorter.

Shaded leaves

Shaded parts of bamboo are not affected
Shaded parts of bamboo are not affected

At first I wasn’t sure about the exact reason, because I also found spider mites on both variegated bamboos. With time, issue became more and more apparent. The shaded leaves that were hidden inside the bamboo clump became hard to miss- they remained healthy and mostly undamaged. Sadly, both bamboos are placed in full sun which makes them suffer leaf damage during most of the summer. Leaves in the fall should be healthy again. Last year, bamboos were much shorter and received a lot of shade from plants growing around them, this year, they became too tall for that and I’ll be able to see when they stop getting sunburns. The first leaves are also the most delicate. Luckily, most of the leaves that are damaged would fall off eventually before the end of the summer when the plants fully leaf-out.

Fully exposed leaves are damaged the most
Fully exposed leaves are damaged the most

Second seedling also has a lot of full sun related damage
Second seedling also has a lot of full sun related damage

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

changing their location

In a year or two, I’ll try to find them a more protected location with more shade. I might even divide them for the first time and try them in “different depths of shade”. Currently, finding them free space is a problem, which I hope I can resolve.

… An update a couple of weeks later…

In just a few weeks, the spot of one seedling got shaded and I successfully removed the mites as well. At the same time, laves started getting more green, just like expected. The shitty humid weather held on during most of early summer and in mid July, seedlings looked better. They started growing branches and started to look much, much better.

Seedling recovered quite well
Seedling recovered quite well

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