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Thread: Darlingtonia from Seed

  1. #1
    mcantrell's Avatar
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    Darlingtonia from Seed

    So with a slow day at work, I thought I'd do a random bit of research about Cobra Lilies. I wouldn't mind picking one up to grow alongside my Sarracenias, someday, anyway.

    While it's not really possible to find one right now for sale (so out of season it's not even funny), I can find plenty of Darlingtonia seed for sale.

    While I'm hesitant to try growing a CP from seed (I've never done so intentionally), I did notice a few things when searching the forums:

    Is this really a 10 year project I'm getting myself into?

    I just sprinkle them on top of the LFS, right? Do I need to put a humidity dome on top, too? It seems pretty self explanatory. For the most part, anyway...

    They need stratification, so should I just plop them in my planned growing container (with dead LFS) and put them in the fridge for a month? I imagine putting them outside (40F days, 20F-ish nights) is probably too cold?

    After I get them sprouted, I should use normal water and not "baby" them, so they'll grow up used to less than ideal conditions? Because apparently there are 2 forms of Darlingtonia, one of which is the infamously temperamental one, the other grows about as easily as a Sarracenia -- and which one you get depends on how they're treated when seedlings?

    Assuming I do get them growing, I should probably expect to keep them outside, as they do require a dormancy... But there's a chance I could just ignore that, if the seedlings are used to it?

    So if I was planning on growing them outside year round, should I get seed now and stratify immediately, or should I wait till spring to germinate them?

  2. #2
    Katherine
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    I find cobra seeds amzingly easy to germinate - exactly like sarracenia seed. They grow slower than sarracenia, but germinating's no problem. No - it's only 3 or 4 years later when the plants big and wants cool roots that you get into trouble, if you have that sort of variety. Some variety's go easier on the cool roots demand than others. But if you have easy access to seeds - I'd say go for it.
    Nearly half of my total collection is either seed or seed that I germinated - and I've only been growing for 3 years. If I can do it you can!

    Oh-and it has nothing to do with how they're treated as seedlings, although that can help a little bit - depends which form you get. I think it's the high altitude location one swhich are finicky - could be wrong though.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Yes, Darlingtonia are notorious slow growers from seed to flowering plant.

    Most seeds germinate more readily in high humidity, covering or bagging your containers and seeds also keep out fungus gnats. The larvae can eat your seedlings.

    They need stratification, so should I just plop them in my planned growing container (with dead LFS) and put them in the fridge for a month? I imagine putting them outside (40F days, 20F-ish nights) is probably too cold?
    Those temperatures are probably fine - if you'll still have them for at least 4 weeks.

    Many people will tell you that stratification is not necessary. To test this I sowed two batches of freshly collected seeds. One group was stratified, the other not. Seeds were collected from a plant that I hand pollinated with pollen from another plant. The seeds were never cold stored - like I said freshly collected.

    I sowed the batches at the end of August. The stratified (4 weeks in the fridge) group germinated in 8 days. 17 out of 20 (85%) have germinated. Still nothing from the unstratified group.

    I just have sown another test group a week ago. This time the unstratified seeds had been cold stored (dry storage in the refrigerator) for at least 6 weeks. I want to see if dry cold storage is sufficient to stratify the seeds thus leading to the conclusion reported by others of stratification not needed.

    After I get them sprouted, I should use normal water and not "baby" them, so they'll grow up used to less than ideal conditions? Because apparently there are 2 forms of Darlingtonia, one of which is the infamously temperamental one, the other grows about as easily as a Sarracenia -- and which one you get depends on how they're treated when seedlings?
    I'd like to see some empirical data on this claim, not just anecdotal stories or "I heard that...". Do not use tap water unless the mineral content is low enough to use on CPs. Rainwater, distilled water, or water filtered through Reverse Osmosis is what you should use.

    There are basically two populations of Darlingtonia - the coastal populations and the mountain ones. The coastal populations grow in more temperate conditions (milder winters). The mountain populations grow above the snowline and overwinter buried under snow. The mountain populations are reputed to be more vigorous growers but their long time survivability with out freezing winters is still in question. Both populations seem to appreciate day/night temperature drops and or roots kept cool.

    The coastal varieties are more common - probably because it is easier to obtain plants or seeds from a roadside than having to hike up to remote mountain sites. They are also probably easier to cultivate not needing very cold winters.
    Assuming I do get them growing, I should probably expect to keep them outside, as they do require a dormancy... But there's a chance I could just ignore that, if the seedlings are used to it?
    Wouldni't it be nice to get rid of dormancy requirements by merely growing from seeds in tropical conditions. I don't believe it. Perhaps with some Drosera which grow in semi-tropical conditions to begin with. And even so when given the chance they still go dormant. You can try it if you like.

    So if I was planning on growing them outside year round, should I get seed now and stratify immediately, or should I wait till spring to germinate them?
    Do it now. Give them as much growing time as possible. If left outdoors the seeds will not germinate until conditions are right. If you cover them make sure they will not bake in the sun. Otherwise leave the pots uncovered but not exposed to rain. You might skip dormancy for one year max.
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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    My problem right now is that my winter here -- which might be colder than normal for the area -- is staying mostly below freezing 24x7. I keep being teased by WeatherUnderground with promises of 40 degree days, but they're only happening about once a week.

    When I said "use normal water" I meant use standard distilled water, not water that I keep in the fridge especially for my Darlingtonias. (Which I had heard suggested someplace.)


    So presumably, I get seed, I put the packet in the fridge or I put it in a growing container outside (or in the fridge) to stratify. 4-8 weeks later, I either put them in a container if I left the packet in the fridge, or I just make sure the container is someplace where the seedlings will live.

    I probably wouldn't want to put the seedlings outside in my current temperatures though, I mean, currently it's 27F out and the low last night was in the mid teens. So, windowsill time?

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    SirKristoff's Avatar
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    darlingtonia....slow? lol i guess its just my area then...Ron West grew the current plants i have from seed a little over a year and a half ago...and they are a pretty good size considering that. and when they are awake, are the fastest growing CP in my collection. by far faster than any nep, ping, dew, sarra, or even utrics i have. remember you need to poor coold water over their roots to keep them cool, when it gets above 90F here, i add ice cubes to the top of the media to keep them cool.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    I have had trouble with the TC plants from the "Lowes Cube of Death" but as soon as I got a plant from hobbyist from the West Coast, all of a sudden I look like a competent grower. After dormanct from a co-worker's garage, the plant flowered. In spite of my terrible inexperience with intentional pollinating, the flower parts I sent to Notanumber combined to produce seeds. Some seeds were sent back to me and I attempted germination. I can't remember, now, if I did a cold stratification or not, but putting the seeds in a plastic container of mostly live LFS, under a light, along with other assorted temperate seeds and leaves, produced several germinations. Getting back to the original plant, it sent a stolon(?) about 15" away and that plant grew pretty quickly. Those plants, and others in the planter, are currently in my co-worker's garage again, awaiting a return in the spring. Below are few pictures:

    The planter, after dormancy

    Sarrlingtonia

    Summer

    The momma

    The stolon to the right

    Seedlings, a half year old

    Seedlings

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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. And I doooo have those nice foam insulated planters for protecting Darlingtonia roots...

    So, seedlings probably need more protection then an adult plant, so putting them out in sub-freezing temperatures would be a waste of seed. About what time of year do they normally start germinating in nature? Savage garden says to start stratifying in Febuary, I imagine doing so early would be ok, right?

    And about how long does it take to germinate from seed?

    Hey, I could probably try growing one in pure Soilmoist as an experiment too!

  8. #8
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    You can stratify them now, just to get them started, and put them outside in like May. I didn't record how long it took to germinate but it was ~3 weeks.

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