Are these one-year-old seedlings viable?

rross(NSW Aust)July 24, 2014

About a year ago, I managed to germinate open-pollinated seeds of Louise Odier and Souvenir de Mme Breuil.

One seedling of each survived and struggled through the summer. They were, and still are, tiny plants and looked terrible by Autumn.

Now, in the cooler weather, they've perked up and produced healthy-looking new leaves but the plants are so tiny, I'm worried they've become permanently stunted and might never be able to carry the weight of flowers, or even bear any.

Could anyone give me an opinion about the prospects of succeeding with these plants? I attach a photo, also featuring my thumb to give you an idea of the size of the seedlings.

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roseseek

They may well be viable. If they'd been planted out where they could have shown their mettle, they may (or may not) have developed into larger plants. I've consistently found that weak and diseased seedlings do not generate good root systems while vigorous, healthy ones do. Having kept them in small pots may have led to their not forming large, vigorous vital root systems, which they may well do once given the space, resources and opportunity to. Think of them like bonsai trees. Those will attempt to grow into what they are genetically programmed to become if given open ground, time and resourced required to accomplish it. When kept constrained, they remain dwarfed, stunted, "bonsaied". If those seedlings are alive and as healthy looking as they appear, they may well develop into decent plants given the opportunity. You'll never know until you give them the chance. I sincerely doubt they have been "permanently stunted". They aren't old enough to become "one cane wonders". Plant them where you can protect them from anything which may eat or otherwise damage them and where you can prevent any weather extremes from killing them. You just may be surprised by how they respond. If they don't develop into decent plants, which I would suspect isn't likely given how they've hung on and how good they look after they time they've been alive, you can always dump them and chalk it up to another "learning experience". What have you to lose? Good luck! Kim

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 3:42PM
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rross(NSW Aust)

Thank you for your reply, Kim. Do you think the next step should be to plant them into bigger pots? If so, could you recommend a pot size? The larger of the two plants was originally in a tomato paste container like the smaller one. When I removed it from it, it wasn't root bound. I didn't dare move either plant into big pots because I had read the soil could go sour for small plants in big pots.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:33PM
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roseseek

If they aren't root bound, they don't need repotting. But, if they have been in that soil for a long time, perhaps they would benefit from fresh soil containing fresh supplies of nutrients? Ideally, when up sizing a potted plant, you use the next size larger container. From a band to a one gallon, to a two, etc. Can you obtain a pot about that ratio larger or just a bit larger so you can give it some fresher soil? You're in winter now, right? Are conditions outdoors suitable for plants that small right now? If they are, it might be a good time to repot and put them outside so they (hopefully) receive some rain. If you can't, and if they aren't root bound yet, you might benefit from holding them the way you have until spring when they could benefit from going outdoors to harden off and hopefully start growing larger. Kim

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:51PM
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rross(NSW Aust)

Hi again Kim. I'm in Sydney which is temperate - our maximum daily temps are around 19 degrees Celsius. I've had the plants outside since Autumn - took them inside last night only for the photo.

Thanks for your advice about repotting in fresh soil.
Regards
Rachel

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:28AM
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rross(NSW Aust)

Hi again Kim. I'm in Sydney which is temperate - our maximum daily temps are around 19 degrees Celsius. I've had the plants outside since Autumn - took them inside last night only for the photo.

Thanks for your advice about repotting in fresh soil.
Regards
Rachel

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:30AM
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