How to collect seeds from tall garden phlox

pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)August 17, 2011

I must be stupid because I have read several posters tell how to find the seeds in tall garden seeds. I see nothing that looks like little balls. I have no idea what variety my garden phlox are but they are light lavender or light pink color. The friend that gave them to me didn't remember what variety they were.

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Hi Pippi,
The little balls (but sort of oval, I think of mouse droppings, lol) will be in small seedpods that hold one seed when ripe. Often not all of the flowers stems will show seed pods developing. So look for swellings where a flower used to be and hopefully you'll get mature seed pods to develop.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 9:52AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Remy, I've been reading about garden phlox forming a ball that when it is dried, will pop open and shoot into the flowerbed. I was visiting a garden friend today and asked her if she knew where to look for these balls..we found what looked like a green oval ball. Was that supposed to turn brown before it pops open? She didn't know about them, saying that she just lets them reseed themselves. When the seedlings get tall enough, she may transplant them elsewhere. Seeing a few flowers I didn't recognize, I asked her what they were. One was a blackberry lily plant and I've read about that one and she dug me up 3 seedlings that I will plant tomorrow afternoon. We had great rainfall today so planting should be easy. The other plant was lobelia cardinal(?)a beautiful red plant that she said the birds and butterflies love.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:48PM
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Pippi21 - "...we found what looked like a green oval ball. Was that supposed to turn brown before it pops open?" That green oval ball is the seed pod. Once it turns tan/brown, you can harvest them and put them in a bowl with a plate over the top. When the seed is ripe, the pod will split in two and shoot the seed out. The plate over the top of the bowl keeps the seed from getting shot across the room.

The blackberry lily seedpods are much less work--the green pods will get knobby-looking, turn a tan color and when they split open you'll see the "blackberry" which is actually the seed cluster.

You have got to grow lobelia cardinalis/cardinal flower even if red isn't your favorite color. O*M*G!! It is such a gorgeous color and it's the hummingbirds' favorite. I WS seeds this year and the plants are tall, slim and the stems are stiff/don't need staking. The flowers bloom late in the season--mine are blooming now, when not too many others are flowering. I bought this one--it's called 'Fan Scarlet' and it's only hardy to Z6 but I'm going to try & bring it through the winter inside my garage. [FYI - Hazzard's sells the seeds] This isn't the best shot of it but it'll give you an idea of the color.

Lobelia cardinalis 'Fan Scarlet'/cardinal flower

I'm also growing a blue (Lobelia siphilitica/great blue lobelia) that blooms at the same time. The bees love it so that's getting added to my WS list for this year too.

Lobelia siphilitica/great blue lobelia

If your goal is to provide nectar sources for the bees, butterflies & hummingbirds, lobelia c. & lobelia s. should be on your plant "must have" list. That said, there are lots of fat seedpods on my L. cardinalis (red) & L. siphilitica (blue) so I should have plenty of seeds to share once they ripen.

BTW...while both prefer moist soil, neither the red nor the blue cardinal flowers appear to attract unwelcome garden pests, the foliage stays nice right through the season and all they ask you to provide is plenty of moisture. I've been setting a cat litter jug (with a pinhole an inch from the bottom) close to them and filling it with water every few days if a week goes by when we don't have rain.

You didn't ask, but another bee favorite is you already have that in your flowerbeds?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 7:37PM
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Mine never seemed to set seed, but neither did the others in that spot - not enough ventilation, i think. But, they are very easy from cuttings.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 11:31AM
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