carex from seed

cactusgardenDecember 15, 2011

I want to try to grow some carex from seed but I have a few questions to anyone who might have experience.

1. Is it easy from seed? (I got the impression maybe some types vary from what I read online but nothing specific) Does it benefit from special treatment like stratifying? When is the best time to sow in pots or flats for plugs? Best sown indoors warm or outdoors cool?

2. I am interested in the fine bladed varieties like 'Flagellifera' 'Comans' and 'Testacea' for color and texture. Will these survive very hot summers with some irrigation?

3. Will they grow well in bright shade in summer? The area has full sun from September until early spring but is under a cedar that has branches high enough to walk under in summer casting shade most of the day during the days when the sun is highest. Will the cedar cause a problem with the soil? (the soil is pretty good but I can amend it if necessary)

4. I read you should divide the plants every 4 years to renew because it is short lived, does that mean the whole plant dies or just the centers?

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Of the varieties you mention, I've grown C. comans 'Bronze Form' from seed from Parks. I've also grown C. muskingumensis, a semi-fine bladed Carex, from self-collected seeds. Neither required any stratification or special treatment. I start them in plant bands, outdoors, in Spring. Comans doughnuts much like Miscanthus. Divide frequently, using plugs from the perimeter of the plant, and discard the center.

Most of my Carex are tolerant of drought and heat once established (after the first year), but most look better when provided sufficient water in summer. They are also sun-tolerant with proper irrigation.

I wouldn't think the Cedar would have any negative effects. Many of my Carex are grown under and around all sorts of Conifers, and they do fine.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 5:57AM
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Jelitto's website, in addition to being a wonderful source for seed for grasses, is a great resource of information on cultivation and seed-starting.

Unfortunately, they are temporarily down right now, while they refresh their inventory information for the new season. They have a wide assortment of grasses, and they ship US orders from their Louisville office.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jelitto

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 6:02AM
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Just one more question. I noticed many seed sources only offer about 24 seeds per pack @ around $4.50 or so. This was one reason I was wondering about ease in germination. Do you sow it like grass, putting a number of seeds per cell?

I have decided to go with Jellito. They have the best selection and you have often recommended them so highly.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 3:29PM
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When I'm pretty sure the seeds will produce similar plants, I sow clumps..that is, up to 15 seeds per square inch of cell. If I think there is a possibility for variation, I sow 1 seed per cell, in tiny-cell flats like 120s or 200s. An example of this is Miscanthus sinensis 'New Hybrids,' 'Early Hybrids' and 'Late Hybrids.' These are blends of seeds from several different hybrids which show the same general blooming characteristics. If you look closely at the seeds, you'll see differences, and they produce plants with different characteristics...blade width, markings, height, etc.. I enjoy trying to isolate plants I like by sowing only one seed per cell. It's pretty tedious, but the results are gratifying.

Jelitto gives you an indication of how may seeds you need to produce how many plants. That's based upon single seed sowing and tested germination rates.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 7:08AM
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Very interesting about seed variations. I've never checked. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 5:38PM
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