Potting up the cold stratified seeds

The time has come for all those seeds I cold stratified this winter to actually get their feet dirty. I’ve only had a few seeds so far that appear to have been DOA: melancholy thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum)–should I say I am melancholy about this failure?– Coreopsis tripteris (I think these were too old),  and black lovage (Smyrnium olusatrum). Most of them have germinated and the rest are still healthy looking, no slime or mold blooms, so I have hope for them as well. Today I put a number of seeds into peat pellets:

Peach-leaved Agastache (Agastache scophulariaefolia)

Smoking Rabbit Tobacco

Pearly Everlasting/Rabbit tobacco (Anaphalis margaritaceae) – This herb actually has a history of various interesting ceremonial and magic uses amongst native tribes here, especially for protection.

Thimbleweed (Anemone cylindrica) – I had to grow this just because of the name

Spiked Wormwood (Artemisia genipi) – I’ve tried this a couple times before with no results. It’s an alpine mugwort used in Italy to flavor a liqueur. The seeds are very tiny and short-lived, and I got only a few. But looks like they all germinated with outdoor treatment. I will try growing them in a pot to reproduce alpine conditions. I won’t be able to harvest such tiny seeds, I don’t think, but I am looking forward to working with the herb. It looks like there are two plants at least with this botanical name, so I will be interested to see how it turns out.

Double-Flowered Celandine (Chelidonum majus flora pleno) – regular celandine grows like crazy here under conifers, so I think I’ve got good conditions for this plant. It’s a handsome fellow, and double flowers would make it doubly so.

Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinalis)

Orange Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum aurantiacum) –   I wanted to grow this just because it’s a poppy and I’m partial to the poppy family, but I found out recently that it’s antiviral, antitussive, and anti-inflammatory. I had no idea it had uses in herbal medicine. What’s more, it is being ingested recreationally for supposed sedating and hallucinogenic properties. I checked on PubMed to see what I could find about the effects of this plant or its major alkaloid, glaucine. I found plenty about the medicinal effects of glaucine, but there were only two reports about its hallucinogenic properties. Both had no abstract available and referred not to the plant but to the alkaloid, which is used for coughs in Russia. So this could be like people getting high from drinking cough syrup. Not that you can’t do it, but I am not sure how pleasant or useful it is. I was not able to find anything else about this plant being used for anything but coughs. Still, it is a poppy and apparently its alkaloid also appears in Yan hu suo (Corydalis cava), which is a very powerful painkiller whose alkaloids act on the mu receptors. I have used yan hu suo for kidney stone pain and also a spasm in my back, and it works darn good and definitely has mood-lifting, opiate perkiness effects. So it might be that orange horned poppy has something similar. At any rate, it’s a nice version of the plant. I look forward to getting to know it as an herb.

L to R: larger plants are salad burnet and celandine

Violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea) – about five of 15 seeds germinated, which I think is pretty good for this rare woodland plant. I hope I can keep these going. They ought to enjoy being in peat pellets.

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) came up like mad. I know I grew this last year, but I can’t find it in my yard. I saw quite a bit of it in the woods last year, though, so it should like this climate.

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) –  I’ve sold the red-flowered one for years, but this is the common wild one.

Field buttercup (Ranunculus acris Citrinus) – this was a real surprise. I’ve tried to germinate this in the past with no luck. I fnally gave up on trying, and what do you know, this year Chiltern Seeds gave me a pack as a freebie, so what the heck, I put them in Outdoor Treatment. I figured they’d never germinate since the Crowsfoot family likes extreme cold to trigger germination, and you don’t get that with Outdoor Treatment, but I guess our winter was just cold enough for them. Thing is, I really like the regular dark yellow buttercups best–this variety has pale yellow flowers–but if these plants ever bloom, I will certainly be grateful for it and will try to collect the seeds to share. I haven’t been able to find a good wholesale source for Ranunculus acris seeds.

Sweet Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) – massive germination on this baby, like opening up an alfalfa sprouter. I’m growing this for my own pleasure, because black-eyed susan was probably the first flower I could identify as a child, and this is a fragrant version. They’re supposed to smell like anise.

Double Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis flora plena) – I didn’t expect much from this, either, as I have tried germinating this same seed in the past with no luck, but this time I lucked out.

I also potted up 18 white mandrakes, and I can see a bunch more mandrake babies are beginning to peek out of their pellets. Still nothing from the black mandrakes. I am not sure why.

It looks like the ma huang is a no-go this year. The seeds are just sitting there rotting. Ditto the bistort (Polygonum bistorta).  I’ve had one single blue poppy (Meconopsis lingholm) germinate. Pathetic.

OTOH, the belladonnas are ready to go into the ground! These are the best looking belladonna seedlings I have ever grown, so I feel good about planting them. They’re going into what was the Black Toad patch last year. I already planted two of the ground cherries, of the variety “Giant,” which sure has lived up to its name so far. Now to find out whether the fruit of this variety is as good as that of Aunt Molly’s, which I grew a couple years ago.  In contrast, my five henbane plants bit the dust. Something they just didn’t like about the fertilizer, I believe. It was a discontinued organic fert. I usually just use liquid kelp, but this has all the bells and whistles. I think it might be responsible for the way the tobacco has grown like it’s playing a role in a fifties movie about the effects of radiation.

One plant that really surprised me by coming through winter is the hops I got on sale from Logees last year. I thought that thing died last summer, but there it is! I am going to shift that over to the privet hedge; let them duke it out. The Chicago Hardy fig I got from Logee’s two years ago is already putting out new branches. It wintered over in a big pot on the south side of the furnace stack and was apparently happy there, where it’s warmer and protected from the north wind. I never thought I’d be able to grow figs in upstate NY.

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