When to sow False Indigo seeds

jaguar325August 29, 2009

Hi, newbie here - if this is a dumb question that I can easily find answers to somewhere on the site, I apologize but have not been able to find the exact answer I am looking for with multiple searches.

My question is; what is the best timing and method of sowing False Indigo seeds for a northern (central Minnesota) climate? I'd prefer a method/timing that is easy - even if the survival rate is lower. As long as some plants make it, I will be happy since I have so many seeds I can afford a higher mortality rate. I read some posts that led me to question whether I should sow them now while we've still got 4-6 weeks of relatively warm weather and little chance of frost since this might cause the seeds to actually start germinating yet this season. Should I wait until later? Timing here can be tricky because I wait too long in the fall, we can get snow and not see the ground again until late March to early April(due to shade from pine trees).

BACKGROUND: I talked my local nurseryman into letting me take a chance on planting 5 mature False Indigo plants (3-4 ft. high and 3-4 ft. in diameter). They seem to be doing just fine with little negative reaction after 3-4 weeks in the ground. I think my success comes from him digging-out gigantic roots and me getting them replanted the same day. The plants are full of seed pods that have been black for some time and have started to crack open. I am going to leave some on the plant for winter interest but also want to collect some to try sowing along an outside edge of woods (unfortunately, one of the few places I have plenty of sun).

I have already had some success with sowing seeds from Snakeroot, Turtlehead, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Baneberry, Wood Rue, etc.. With those seeds, I typically just throw them on the ground in the fall as they reach maturity. I sow different plants in different spots based on moisture and sunlight. My soil is a very good and will have a light layer of woodland debris "mulch" (leaves, pine needles, etc.) through the winter and into spring. We blow off the thick leaves in fall so the remaining layer is not too deep for a seedling to find its way through in the spring.

Thanks in advance for help with this!

Big K

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darwingardener(z4 ND)

The link attached indicates that germination normally starts when the soil temp nears 50 degrees. For what it's worth, this past winter we had extremely heavy snowfall in our area (central North Dakota). A mature baptisia australis plant near the driveway was completely buried all winter. Seedpods left on the plant last fall resulted in dozens of seedlings this spring in the surrounding area (which is lightly mulched with wood chips). If you want to try 'easy', you might just scatter the seeds in very late fall/early winter, even on top of the snow....

Here is a link that might be useful: Baptisia Australis info link

    Bookmark   August 29, 2009 at 10:17PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I started Baptisia australis (blue) and B. leucantha (white) from seed in February 2008 using the winter-sowing method. I scarified the seed using coarse sandpaper before sowing. Sowed Feb 4th and they sprouted around April 20th. They germinated very well, although some of the sprouts were lost from damping off.

In May 08 I transplanted 3 blue and 3 white wild indigo seedlings in small nursery pots and they are still doing fine in the pots (although getting pot-bound and need to potted in bigger pots). These small plants probably won't bloom for another couple years and hopefully I'll decide where to put them by then!

Scattering the seed over the ground in the fall where you want sprouts would probably work well too.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2009 at 8:28PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

I just bury the seeds in the fall where I want the plants to grow and they germinate in the spring.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 7:11AM
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I have read a lot of information on the web about needing to scarify False Indigo seeds before sowing (because they are hard-shelled).

My question is; are these references on how to do it based on planting the whole pods or individual seeds? The pods on my plants were already starting to crack open when I gathered them so I sat down and separated out all the individual seeds thinking this was the way nature intended for them to be sown. The seeds are really small and I've got hundreds of them - it's hard to imagine how I would scratch each one with sandpaper. Is there a technique I am missing here or am I getting this method confused with people who mean to scarify the pods?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 12:54PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Winter sow them or direct sow them in the winter where you want them to grow and Mother Nature will take care of any scarification the seeds might need.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 5:59PM
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terrene(5b MA)

As far as flower seeds go, Baptisia seeds are on the large side. To scarify them, I scratched up the seeds in between 2 pieces of coarse sand paper. Then sowed them in containers and put them right out in the snow/sleet/rain and freezing/thawing temps where Ma nature did the rest.

You could also try soaking the seed by pouring boiling hot water over the seeds and letting them sit for 24 hours. This loosens up the seed coat. What Nickville said works too, and it's the easiest method.

They are easy to germinate Jaguar - have some fun and try different methods. The patience comes in waiting 2-3 years for these babies to flower. I can't wait to see the white Baptisia bloom someday.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 10:51AM
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Mine have just turned into seed pods. Can I plant them now? I would assume I could because the weather is warm. The pods are green not black. Do I need to wait?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:02PM
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I bought 2 False Indigo plants at the Home Depot this year. I have never had these plants before and was not familiar with them but knew them to be native to my area. They had purple/blue flowers on them and looked nice. However, after the flowers were spent, they formed seeds in fluffy pappus. Tiny seeds, not at all like the black leguminous seeds of the baptisia. When I took a closer look, I found that the flowers and seeds were on a separate stalk, apparently not part of the baptisia plant! Not knowing what it was, and not wanting it to self-seed, I pulled the flower stalks out. What remained are actually 2 very small baptisias. Now that I have learned that Baptisias don't bloom for a few years, I am thinking that these are very young plants and not yet blooming. The grower probably interplanted something, maybe an annual, with a flower stalk that would mimic the Baptisia so that they could deliver something to the nursery that would sell. So now I would like to identify the mystery plant - but all I have is the seed and pappus. If anyone had the same experience and knows what it is, and whether I should want to plant these seeds, I would appreciate hearing.Here's a photo of the seeds and pappus. The seeds are tiny - MUCH smaller than poppy seeds and more gray than black. The pappus is very downy. Do I want this plant or is it some nasty invasive I will regret for the rest of my life? Thanks for any thoughts.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:55PM
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dandy_line(3B (Brainerd, Mn))

I created an outdoor seedling bed last fall and planted Baptesia alba sometime in November. They germinated just fine in the outdoor environment. Much better than starting in the fridge over winter, etc. They are a few inches tall as of this morning.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:27PM
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