What Hummingbird plants are you growing from seed this spring?

kristin_williams(6)March 15, 2007

Just thought it might be fun to see if anyone else has turned their house into a greenhouse this spring.

To save money, I'm growing a bunch of things from seed:

Hollyhocks "Heirloom Single Mixed Colors," and "Indian Spring"

Eccremocarpus scaber "Tresco Mixed," and "Tresco Crimson"

I'm so excited that these are sprouting. The seedlings are incredibly tiny, maybe only 1 millimeter across for both leaves. It's hard to believe they will ever grow to be 8 foot vines.

Salvia coccinea "Hummingbird Mixed"

Penstemon barbatus "Iron Maiden" I was worried these would be hard to sprout and might need a chilling period, but I can see a few of them are starting to come up. They're supposed to be excellent hummer flowers, scarlet in color, with blooms in late summer.

Still to plant are my Cypress vines, Cardinal Climbers, Mina lobata, and Ipomoea coccinea. I've never grown Mina Lobata, so it will be interesting to see what it's like. I'm also going to put a couple Scarlet Runner Beans with my usual pole beans in the vegetable garden. Now the little hummers will have something to investigate in the vegetable garden besides the tomato flowers. Do they actually get nectar out of those tomato flowers?

Pretty soon I'm going to be overwhelmed with seedlings. Anyone else in a similar boat?

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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I am already overwhelmed with seedlings at least in a few containers. Two days ago no coccineas at all. The very next morning the whle pot had sprouted and I know that there are well over 50 salvia coccineas 'Coral Nymph' in that pot. Same thing with Mimulus. Three days after I sowed the seeds I had a wall of green....teeny tiny green.
In addition to those two plants I have sown Salvia Praeclara, Salvia Azurea, Salvia coccinea Lavender, Agastache Cana 'Sonoran Sunset', Cuphea (don't recall which one as I didn't label it), Salvia guaranitica Black & Blue, Salvia Guaranitica X Black & Blue (Red flower), Maltese Cross, Blackberry Lily, Hamelia patens, Ipomopsis rubra, Buddleia davidii Black Knight, Buddleia davidii Royal Red, Kniphofia Uvaria, Lobelia cardinalis, Salvia greggii x teresa, salvia greggii Cherry chief, Salvia sagitatta, Coral Bean, Lantana camara 'Dallas Red', Lantana camara 'Pink Dawn', Chilean Glory Vine, Cuphea ignea, Cuphea micropetala, Cuphea llava, Desert Willow, nasturtiums,

Still haven't started Salvia subrotunda, scarlet runner beans, Indian Paintbrush or my cypress vine.

I also have cuttings rooted and potted up of 6-7 fucshias, several salvia greggiis, Salvia blepharophylla hybrid (blooming), 6 red yuccas, cuphea ignea (blooming), Salvia Raspberry Truffle, Lantana 'Dallas Red, Salvia 'coral nymph, Salvia Black & Blue, Salvia Black & Blue hybrid (red flower),Salvia Van Remsen, Candy Corn Vine, and abutilon pictum.

I think that covers most of my stuff so far. Now aren't you sorry you asked? I didn't list the plants I brought in for the winter LOL!


    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 5:35PM
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No, I'm not sorry I asked. I may dish it out with respect to long posts, but I can take it, too! One standout in your list was the Salvia "Black and Blue." Did you collect those seeds yourself? They don't seem to be available commercially.

It's also kind of nice to know that there's some other "nut" out there that has their house even more full of hummer plants than I do this spring.

Do Indian Paintbrushes need some sort of symbiont to grow? I think I remember reading that, but maybe it was some other plant. I forget.

I don't think I mentioned that I also am trying an Agastache from seed this spring. Last year, I bought some pink-flowering Agastache plants called "Big Bazooka," but now I'm not sure if they survived the winter. I left the stems through the winter, and saw green growth in February, but then it got cold and wet and snowy, and I'm afraid they may not have survived the last month of our weird winter. If they don't green up, I'll hopefully have seedlings of Agastache rupestris to put in their place. I think I prefer the orangey color of rupestris to the pink of Big Bazooka. Hopefully, the hummers will feel the same. I must say, though, that the Big Bazookas were very popular with the young hummers last summer.

I'm also trying Cuphea "Matchless" from seed, but I've been warned that the flowers are so tiny that the hummers won't use them. I guess I'll find out.

I'm also planning to try Ipomopsis rubra, but haven't sown the seeds yet.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Well, I haven't gotten started yet, but plan to this weekend. I'm gonna start some Cardinal Climber, Petunia's, and well, I need to get out the seeds and decide which I'm gonna start!! I wish I had some of those Black and Blue, have some hope that they'll come back. Otherwise, I'll buy some more this year, and figure out how Penny collected hers from seed :) I also have some Aloe seeds to get started, a whole window sill of Jade plants, a Gollum on order, and 8 AV's that are gonna have to move over and make room for some seedlings. Not including their babies that I have potted up, and then I have a Coral Honeysuckle sitting on my kitchen table. At least it is not as bad as last year, I have a light cart now, so my kitchen and dining room table can still be used through the spring!! Christy :)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 8:10PM
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I started mine around the 1st and have them all in their own individual pots and labeled. Sal , scarlet sage, lady in red, coral nymph, subrotunda, shades of orange , sunset hyssop, sal.bonfire, aricot sprite, foxglove strawberry, sal. microphylla X sal mueler. My B&B have not sprouted yet. Now my yard is not big enough for all I have so only the biggest and strongest will make the final cut.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:33PM
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cs7580(zone 7 TN)

This is what I planted last week end. Sweet Pea
Zinnia Common
Red Morning Glory
Bee Balm
Cypress Vine
Cardinal Climber Vine
Most of them are comming up now

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 2:53AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

The black & blue seed is from my own plants but even though I call it black & blue, I only get abut 20-25% of the plants to come true from seed. Most of the plant end up being hybrids and some of them don't bloom at all that is why I don't offer seed to people looking for black & blue. One of my plants that I overwintered is the 'red' black & blue sport. This is why you won't find commercial growers offereing seed for B&B unless they grow it in a completely controlled environment with no other salvias around. This isn't cost effective for wholesale growers. It is a very promiscuous plant and not picky about what other salvia it pollinates with. I have one B&B sport that is 3 or 4 yrs old with pale lavender flowers that stays very short. It only gets about 12 inches tall each year but the flowers are larger than B&B. This one has never produced seed. The only way to guarantee getting a true B&B is to take cuttings of your plants in late summer and overwinter them inside if you live in a colder zone where it isn't hardy.

Occasionally you can find someone on EBAY selling B&B seed but I would never buy this particular plant seed on EBAY for the same reason that I don't offer it...It will have a very low percentage of the plants coming true or they won't grow or bloom. It is best to buy a plant from a reliable source if you don't have one or to take cuttings of your own plants.

To collect the B&B seed of your own plants, you have to keep a watchful eye once they are blooming well and are getting pollinated. Once the seeds ripen the calyx will start turning brown. If you look down into the calyx you will see dark brown to black ball(s) and you have to check them constantly b/c as soon as they are ripe they just fall right out of the calyx. i check my plants sometime 3 or 4 times a day in order to collect the seed as soon as it is ripe. Some people tie a piece of mesh over the calyx to catch the seed. I haven't done that yet b/c I usually have too many flower clusters on an inflorescence blooming to isolate one or two.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 6:10AM
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I have Foxglove 'Candy Mountain' coming up now which is supposed to have upward facing flowers. Hope the hummingbirds think that's cool.
I've sowed several salvias around March 1st but none are coming up yet. I'm waiting on seeds I saved from Cherry Queen, darcyi and guaranitica. Also sowed Yvonne's salvia and subrotundra around the same time but no green yet. I'd be very relieved if I checked and the whole pot had sprouted like yours did Penny.
I planted some fancy leafed heuchera seeds from a couple years ago that I didn't expect to germinate at all and now have about a hundred very tiny seedlings coming up. I'm really hoping I can successfully grow those on but from what I've read, it's difficult since they're so small and fragile.
My agastache 'Apricot Sprite' has germinated but still waiting on red yucca and some others. I still have some seeds to plant too. I will get volunteers from salvia coccinea and cypress vine. There's a big pot on my patio with something coming up in it. I think I stuck some Coral Nymph seeds in there late last summer but I'm not sure. lol Guess I'll know when they bloom.
I didn't save any seeds from my native columbine but I'm hoping they reseed on their own. I'd really like to have more of those.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 8:45AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I sowed my Salvia greggii Cherry Chief on March 7th and they just started to sprout. The only guaranitica seeds that have germinated so far were the ones that I accidently put in the same container with Red Hot poker and both types sprouted the same time. The container with just the guaranitica seeds have yet to sprout...go figure! So now I am going to have to try and gently tease out the guaraniticas from the red hot poker. I still haven't done subrotunda or Yvonne's salvia. I couldn't believe it when I saw all those coral nymph seedlings. I have never had that much germination all at once from one type of seed. Red yucca took a while to germinate for me(June) but I did wintersow mine. I planted one out in the fall and it did survive the winter and our winter was super cold this year. So now I can safely plant out the rest that I kept inside for the winter since I know they will survive here. Cypress vine reseeds like crazy for me that is why I haven't done any yet. I will probably just let the reseeders come up.
Your native columbine will probably reseed. I collected my seed but scattered it where I wanted it to grow right after I collected it and it came up and started growing within 2-3 weeks. I have a nice new stand of that and they will probably bloom now this spring.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 9:27AM
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Penny - My salvias are outside winter sowing. I think you may have said that you are growing yours under lights right? I've been setting my containers in the sun when I can so they'll get plenty of light but making sure they don't get too hot.

This is my first year to grow Coral Nymph from seed so I don't know what to expect on colors. I suspect the hummingbirds will like them no matter what color they are. Same with guaranitica since they like the species so well. I'm jealous of your red one. I did some intentional crosses with guaranitica and darcyi and some with guaranitica and Cherry Queen but they may have also crossed with coccinea since I had lots of those. Coccinea is not hardy here but the others are (barely).

Cherry Queen bloomed from mid April until frost last year. It gets better every year. Usually I can see a few greenish leaves on it though and I can't this year. I hope it's not dead. It's my longest bloomer and one of my absolute favorites.
We had a tough winter too. I think it was wetter than normal and we had a record breaking ice storm so I may lose some salvias this year. : ( We had four trees completely uprooted and had to cut down three others yesterday that were so messed up they probably would've died anyway. As sad as that is, I think I'd miss my salvias even more. lol Stupid ice storm.

I still owe you postage Penny but I'm waiting so I'll have something to send along with it. : ) Hope you don't mind.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 10:46AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Hey Christie,
The seeds that have sprouted are inside but in windows ...no lights. My WS salvias and other WS seeds haven't sprouted yet so I still have lots that won't sprout until it warms back up which will probably be another 2-3 weeks. That is why I started some seeds indoors of everything. Normally I just wintersow everything but this was such a brutally cold winter I thought I better start some of this stuff inside.

The red sport I do believe is hardier than my coccineas because it still had leaves long after everything else was dead and the leaves turned red too. It was really weird. I had 4 of them in the ground and now I wish I had dug them all up and brought them in for the winter. I looked at the dead stem day before yesterday after all the snow melted and the base of the main stem had gotten about an inch or inch and a half thick before it finally froze. I am anxious to see how the one I have inside does this year.

Hey you don't owe me any postage....don't be silly!


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 1:28PM
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Hey Penny,

Thanks for all the Salvia info. I'll be growing both Salvia Black and Blue, and also plain Salvia guaranitica for the first time this year from plants ordered mailorder. I think that Salvia guaranitica is a pure, naturally occurring species, so I would assume that if it could be kept isolated from all other salvias, it would breed true with itself and produce seed for more Salvia guaranitica with mininimal variability. However, I'm a little less sure about Salvia B&B. Isn't it just a variety of S. guaranitica that has a blackish calyx? If it's just a variety of guaranitica, does Salvia B&B breed true with itself? And finally, would it produce fertile crosses with S. guaranitica, although perhaps with variable characteristics? I'm thinking it would if B&B is just a variety of guaranitica.

So, since I'm only growing these 2 kinds of salvia, the real problem with fertility would be if salvia pollen got in from a different sort of salvia from a neighbor's yard. It could easily get carried in on the forehead of a hummingbird, or maybe on the body of an insect, and I could end up with an infertile cross that would produce no seeds. If I'm understanding you correctly, that's what could cause the infertile seed problem and would be a bummer if I were hoping to collect seed.

To get around this problem, do you think it would be possible to isolate my two salvias from each other and from other salvias in the neighborhood by putting fine mesh bags over some of the flowers before they bloom, and then hand pollinating, and keeping the bags on until seeds were produced? Do you think it could work? I know it would be tedious, and I might not want to bother, but do you think it would be possible? I suppose cuttings would be easier and quicker, but just wondering if that might be a practical way to get pure seed.

By the way, where did you learn all of this about Salvia? Did you go to school for horticulture, or know a plant breeder, do some reading on your own, figure it out for yourself? However it is that you know these things, thanks for sharing your knowledge. It's really piqued my curiosity.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 2:58PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Hey Kristin,
First let me tell you that my very first sport (with the lavender flowers came about from my black & blue which was the only salvia I was growing at the time. I had not seen any other salvias anywhere in my neighborhood and my plant was not large enough at the time I bought it to have started to even develop blooms. So I have no idea how far the pollinator (bird or bug) came to pollinate the flowers. I think about the only way you will be able to guarantee pure seed is through hand pollinating and then keeping the plant in a controlled environment such as a greenhouse that is totally bug free. It will be MUCH easier to propagate by tissue culture (cuttings). You can get 10 guaranteed cuttings rooted in less time than it would take to get 5 seeds sprouted and then not know what you would end up with or if they would even bloom.

Black and Blue is a hybrid of guaranitica which is the species plant but I can't remember off the top of my head what the other salvia is that guaranitica is crossed with. Black & Blue has the dominent traits of guaranitica so it considered a guaranitica hybrid. I have another guaranitica which is a cultivar of Black & Blue and that one is Van Remsen. It is more robust than black & Blue with bigger flowers and deeper color and it is slightly hardier but it doesn't form rhizomes so that is a trait from whatever was crossed with the black and Blue to get the Van Remsen. I have not been able to collect seed of that one yet as the seeds fall too quickly. I had to take cuttings in the fall and I am hoping to start putting them out soon because they are struggling inside after such a long time being in.

No I didn't go to school to study horticulture but Rich Dufresne Salvia breeder) has taught me a lot and I have done a lot of reading on my own in additon to trial and error working with my own plantsover a period of 4 yrs.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 4:08PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Please email me off list


    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 7:11PM
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I don't know what bug bit me, but I have gone crazy for hummingbird plants this year.

What is the difference between Salvia patens or gentian sage, and Salvia Gauranitica? Do the hummingbirds like guaranitica better? Salvia patens grows pretty easily from seed for me, and forms a kind of tuber, which needs to get dug up here in Zone 5. Fedco, Pinetree Gardens and Swallowtail Garden Seeds had salvia patens, 2 named Blue Angel.

Diane's Seeds had the most agastache seeds and a wonderful guide to hummingbird favorites. She lists the plants that hummingbirds think of as "chocolate cake". I bought Apricot Sprite, Purple Pygmy, Golden Jubilee. Parks had an agastache seed collection.

I will be starting Fedco Seeds Hyssop and Anise Hyssop, Iron Maiden penstemon, Indian Springs hollyhocks and Lemon Mint - monarda citriodora - but I don't think they'll flower the first year.

Last year's seeds that I didn't get to plant were Salvia Lady in Red and Coral Nymph, and Cypress vine. Hope they germinate this year.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 10:58AM
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Here's a link to that article at Dianne's Seeds. Thank you. I saw several there I had to look up and will add to my wish list.

I found a. 'Apricot Sprite' seeds locally and winter sowed them. I have about 20 seedlings now - very small.

Let us know how your last year's seeds do. Most seeds store pretty well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Attracting Hummingbirds - Dianne's Seeds

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 2:24PM
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My winter sowed salvias are starting to germinate. I have one sprout each in darcyi, subrotundra, and Yvonne's. Still waiting on guaranitica and greggi Cherry Queen.
I sowed Indian Paintbrush this week but I think I should've put those out sooner. I read they need to be cold stratified. I may have to stick them in the frig or something. One site I found said, if sowed in spring/summer, they will germinate in the fall. Most places said to sow in the fall. Has anyone had good luck starting it from seed? What did you plant it with? I have liatris but none of the other host plants I've come across.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 11:36AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

I'm totally out of control as I am EVERY late winter when there is still snow on the ground. Here is what I am growing indoors for the hummingbirds (sprouts have appeared already):

Salvia coccinea "Lady in Red" - the rubythroats go wild for this in my garden

Red Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) - also for monarch butterflies but I notice hummers using it too

Cardinal Climber - always popular with hummers here

Canada Lily - no sprouts yet but they take a long time

I also sowed Cigar Plant (Cuphea) but no sprouts yet, I think the seeds were too old.

I am also nursing a cutting of Fuschia Gartenmeister which I took at the end of last summer. It is in ICU right now because my cat stepped on it a few weeks ago...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 12:34PM
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I'm trying to sprout Cuphea also, and my seed is fresh 2007 seed. So far, after 10 days, it still isn't up. Maybe it's a slow germinator. My hollyhocks have also been very slow. After 11 days I have only 2 sprouts out of 18 pots. Otherwise, though, things are sprouting like crazy. I've got Penstemon barbatus, Eccremocarpus scaber, and Salvia coccinea in abundance.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:05PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Christie I just sowed my Idian Paintbrush. I was told that if it is sown to late to get enough cold stratification that it wouldn't bloom until next year. I do know that it is a deficult plant to grow in culivated home gardens. No one that I know who has already tried it has been successful keeping it alive if it germiated. Another host plant is penstemon. I am just now reading some info on hosts so if I find out anything different or in addition I will let you know.

Just potted up S. praeclara and need to pot up the Black and Blues. Darcyi has finally sprouted and so has one desert willow. One whole pot of cuphea sprouted but still have 2 other pots with no sprouts....I have way way way too many seeds sprouting here.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:38PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

OK, I've read this whole thread and you guys got me going again! I wasn't going to buy any more seed this year, but when I heard that Penstemon barbatus "Iron Maiden" was a good hummingbird attractor, I did a search for it and bought some seed.

And while I was at it, I bought some Agastache rupestris (Sunset Hyssop) seed because I've always wanted to grow it. I did try from seed a few years ago but didn't get any sprouts.

I hope the weather gets warmer soon because I need to get outdoors rather than buying more seeds and plants online :-)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 9:31AM
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Iron Maiden is a lovely hummingbird plant, however it behaves as a biennial in my New Jersey yard - blooms the 2nd year and then dies.

Agastache rupestris might be hardy for you if your soil is dry enough in the winter. Here in zone 7 it is quite tough and blooms well from mid summer. Maybe seeds started this late will bloom this year by something like September, but I wouldn't count on it. You might consider buying one right away and growing it on the window sill. You would then be able to take cuttings in another month. Rupestris cuttings root quickly in spring and those cuttings have reliably bloomed for me the first year.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 12:20PM
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newbie_in_nj(6b E/Central NJ)

I'm bumping this up in hopes "muffienh" or anyone else can tell me if Agastache Purple Pygmy germinated, really bloomed first year as advertised. If all of these were successful, were hummers attracted to it enough to nectar?

Also, did "ellen_s" or anyone have success with Asclepias curassavica and was it winter sown, germinated indoors under lights or direct seeded in ground late fall/early winter even though it doesn't need cold stratification?

I ordered 25 Asclepias curassavica seeds and was thinking of direct seeding some in front/behind spring blooming bulbs at same time I put those in the ground. I'll put rest of seeds in containers to get into enough sunlight.

I put zinnias around bulb territory this past spring but took 2 months to get them large enough to bloom since rabbits kept eating them back. Hoping they'll leave milkweed alone.

I'm really most interested in anyone's experience with the Agastache Purple Pygmy, though. Can't afford to buy them as plants so seeds were my next best option if I don't mess up germinating them...LOL. Hoping they germinate well, bloom first year and attract/feed Hummers.

If anyone sees this post, thanks in advance for any advice or experience you can offer.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 7:29PM
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