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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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