General Discussion:

Bitterroot Lewisia

Messages posted to thread:

sandy19-Jun-02 11:42 AM EST 3b   
19-Jun-02 12:48 PM EST   
Glen - Regina, SK19-Jun-02 12:49 PM EST 3   

Subject: Bitterroot Lewisia
From: sandy
Zone: 3b
Date: 19-Jun-02 11:42 AM EST

I would like to know how to start this plant from seed. I've tried a number of times but I am not having very good luck. This is a beautiful plant for rock gardens, requiring good drainage and lots of sun. They did not have it at the gardencentre, so I would like to start my own.

Subject: RE: Bitterroot Lewisia
Date: 19-Jun-02 12:48 PM EST

I've grown several species of Lewisia from seed for the last 6 or 7 years. This spring germinated Lewisia cotyledon, L. longipetela, L. pygmaea, L. nevadensis, L. tweedyi.

Easiest from seed (and showiest species in my opinion) is Lewisia cotyledon.

All Lewisia seed need to be stratified, it's actually a good genus to learn how to stratify seed. Stratification means the seed needs to be exposed to a prolonged period of cold + moist conditions in order to germinate. Many different approaches how to do it. Here's what has worked very well for me...

Get a roll of extra strong/absorbant paper towels - plain paper towels are no good they fall apart when wet. Get a box of no name brand sandwich bags.

Fold the paper towel 3 or 4 times so that it will fit inside the sandwich bag. Wet the towel under the water faucet - then squeeze out a lot of the water so that it is still wet but not soaking wet. You'll have to use your best judgement here, too dry is no good they won't germinate, too wet the seeds may rot.

Open the last fold of the wet paper towel. Sprinkle in your seeds. Close the fold, you're now ready to put the towel in the baggie. If the towel has dried out too much, spritz it with a water bottle/spritzer. Put paper towel in baggie. Stick a bit of masking tape on the baggie write on the tape the date and the name of the species. Put the baggie in the fridge. The beauty of this technique is that it takes up very little room in the fridge. Do not use the freezer (1 -freezer isn't necessary, 2 - freezing newly germinated seeds will kill them).

Lewisia seed should begin to germinate in the paper towel in the fridge in 6 to 8 weeks. Around that time, check the seeds a couple of times a week for germinated seeds and sow them indoors (I use soilless mix as a growing medium, and florescent lights indoors as a light source). At the end of 12 weeks, remove any ungerminated seeds and sow them too, a few of these might then germinate for you too.

This technique simulates spring conditions (+3C and wet) that these seeds must have to germinate. Not all perennial species need to be stratified to germinate, however all Lewisia do.

I buy my Lewisia seed from Jelitto in Germany they have a great selection and I have achieved very good % of germination with their seed (this company has the best selection of perennial seed I have ever seen).

Chiltern in England has a pretty good selection of Lewisia seed, too, have had pretty good germination rates with them. Also have used some Lewisia seed from the North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange, and Beavercreek Greenhouses of BC who also have a pretty cool catalogue if you're into alpine plants.

Subject: RE: Bitterroot Lewisia
From: Glen - Regina, SK
Zone: 3
Date: 19-Jun-02 12:49 PM EST

Sorry, forgot to say who I was.

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