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PNW Drosophyllum germinating outside in cool temps and low light

DJ57

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I was moving plants around outside last Saturday in preparation for freezing weather coming our way when I discovered Drosophyllum seedlings had very recently sprouted in a couple gallon nursery pots despite some pretty cold temps here recently (low 40’s day/low 30’s overnight). The media is roughly 50/50 peat/perlite and the pots are outside fully exposed. While taking some photos I noticed what looked like some grass coming out a drain hole of one of the pots, but upon closer inspection discovered it was a Droso seedling! These pots are not in a water tray, mostly ignored, and cycle between being bone dry to saturated dependent only on rain. My guess is the media had shrunk away from the sides during the dry season and then with the first good rains the seed got bumped around and this one fell between the side of the pot and soil, sinking to the bottom near the drain hole. I have never had Droso seed germinate outside this late before, usually get germination in spring or summer.

Another thing is that these pots have not gotten any direct sunlight to the soil in almost a month due to taller pots in front of them, sun position this time of year, and the soil level being way below the top of the pots...the seed germinated in the shade.

I have been tossing excess seed from my plants into these two outside pots for the last couple summers and transplanting the few seedlings that pop up in spring or summer.

Photos taken December 3rd:

31285834141_ee27a2a465_z.jpg
[/url]Drosophyllum seedling growing out bottom of pot by Djoni C, on Flickr[/IMG]

30579232014_0ef1fe7c8d_z.jpg
[/url]Drosophyllum seedling in odd place by Djoni C, on Flickr[/IMG]


Top view of one of the pots. Today I see a couple more seeds starting to germinate in both pots (pots have been moved into the garage).

30593294123_f4d31856ca_z.jpg
[/url]Drosophyllum seedlings discovered outside by Djoni C, on Flickr[/IMG]
 
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So what do you do with the seedling coming out of the drainage hole? Are you going to let it grow out like that?
 
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Very nice! The little guy coming out of the drainage hole must've been a nice surprise. How do you suppose the seed got down there? I've only seen that happen with sprouts coming from the long roots of whatever is growing in the pot.
I have been tossing excess seed from my plants into these two outside pots for the last couple summers and transplanting the few seedlings that pop up in spring or summer.
You sow the seed in summer, and it stays dormant throughout the fall/winter? Do any ever germinate before it gets cold, and then die in the winter? My two in-vitro seeds germinated in under three months, though I wouldn't doubt if being hit with the sterilizing treatment prior to flasking, might have softened the seed coat a little bit.
 

DJ57

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So what do you do with the seedling coming out of the drainage hole? Are you going to let it grow out like that?

I don’t have inside space to keep these guys over winter, so rather than let them die from winter exposure both pots found a new home today…ask Bluemax what he is going to do with it :-D
 

DJ57

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How do you suppose the seed got down there?

The pots don’t sit in a water tray and are basically ignored (I don’t water them) so the soil dries out completely during the hottest time of year, near the end of summer. When this happens the soil shrinks away from the sides of the pot, leaving a gap between the soil and side of the pot. This is the time I usually toss seed in those pots. The pots are fully exposed to the elements so when it rains heavy the seeds get jostled around and some probably fall in the gap between soil and pot and get worked down to the bottom, my guess is that is how this little sprout germinated out the bottom of the pot.

You sow the seed in summer, and it stays dormant throughout the fall/winter? Do any ever germinate before it gets cold, and then die in the winter? My two in-vitro seeds germinated in under three months, though I wouldn't doubt if being hit with the sterilizing treatment prior to flasking, might have softened the seed coat a little bit.

Yes, untreated/un-scarified seeds are tossed into the pots toward the end of summer when it is usually hot and dry and then left outside over winter. These seeds don’t usually germinate until spring. This is the first time I have had droso seed germinate the same year I have tossed seed in those two pots at the end of summer. I think exposure to the elements over winter breaks down the seed coat naturally. If I sow seeds outside in spring (in Jiffy pots or plastic seed cell containers), I can get germination in as little as two weeks depending on whether I scarify the seed or not and how old the seed is, some can take a few months but average is maybe a month or so. I think older seed germinates quicker than fresh seed.

Last year I left my adult Drosophyllum pots outside over winter and they eventually perished before winter was over. I had one late seedling sprout in the bog (a mystery how it got there) that not only survived that winter there but continued to grow through the following spring before succumbing to the wet bog conditions. It never grew very big and I suspect was weakened by the wet conditions of the bog and winter exposure.
 
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I've found that keeping drosophyllum long-term is difficult. They cannot withstand the cold, and have an astonishing light and space requirement in the winter. Without a greenhouse you'll be lucky to keep them for more than 3 years, and if you do it was probably a pain :D. I like your idea of keeping them as semi-annuals. I'm guessing that means the seeds do not dampen or freeze to death during the winter?

Thanks for the updates!
 

DJ57

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I've found that keeping drosophyllum long-term is difficult. They cannot withstand the cold, and have an astonishing light and space requirement in the winter. Without a greenhouse you'll be lucky to keep them for more than 3 years, and if you do it was probably a pain :D. I like your idea of keeping them as semi-annuals. I'm guessing that means the seeds do not dampen or freeze to death during the winter?

Thanks for the updates!

Drosophyllum can handle frosts quite well, although sustained freezing temps will eventually kill them. I overwinter my Drosophyllum in an unheated garage next to a large south-facing window with a T12 light fixture overhead and they do fine. Overnight temps there often get down into the high 30’s with occasional low 30’s; 40’s and 50’s during the day. Space is limited so I can only keep two or three Droso pots there depending on pot size (12” or 10” terra cotta pots) or how many other CP’s I have on that extended window sill.

Important to note though that these Drosos are acclimated to being outside from spring to late fall so get natural seasonal cues such as fluctuating temps and photoperiod. The oldest Droso I had was 4+ years old. The Droso pot in the pics I think is 3 years old. I do not find them a pain to grow at all and love having them around the yard during the growing season and enjoying them in the garage during winter.

I think the seed baking in the sun in late summer and the winter conditions we get outside here, lots of rain and constant freeze/thaw cycles, helps to break down the seed coat making it unnecessary to treat them in any way for germination. This was an experiment to see what would happen in my conditions. Germinating seed in more controlled conditions I think does work better for most and probably produces a better germination rate.

Forsty Drosophyllum
23216468215_8d1677aa4c_z.jpg
[/url]Frosty Drosophyllum by Djoni C, on Flickr[/img]

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[/url]IMG_5090x1 by Djoni C, on Flickr[/img]

Thawed out once the sun hit them and doing fine
22848523849_8997b70d98_z.jpg
[/url]Thawed by Djoni C, on Flickr[/img]

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[/url]IMG_5093x1 by Djoni C, on Flickr[/img]

Update on the babies in the pics at the top of this thread: Bluemax was kind enough to take these off my hands (two pots) and he tells me several more seed germinated after he got them. Last I heard all are growing well in his garage window.
 

DJ57

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Here are two Droso pots overwintering now in my unheated garage with a T12 light fixture overhead and the window for lighting, photo taken today. These have been in the garage since October and are from seed that germinated outside in spring last year. The pot on the right are two plants that were transplanted as young seedlings from another outside pot that contained an inappropriate soil mix to sustain adult Drosophyllum.

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[/url]Drosophyllum Jan. 31, 2017 by Djoni C, on Flickr[/img]
 

bluemax

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I think it's interesting how the plants are showing a lot of wilting while they are covered with frost but when it has melted off they stretch out. Obviously they are metabolizing and moving liquids internally.
 
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They almost seem refreshed after cold nights, however it just gets a bit too low for them where I'm located. Hard freezes can go on for weeks. It looks like your climate is right at the limit where you can get away with them living with no or minimal protection. Beautiful specimens, good work!
 
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