Growing Perennials from Seed – Ninety-nine Perennials

Ninety Nine Plants to grow from Seed – Bill Terry (Printable PDF)
Here is a selection of perennial flowers that can be grown from seed and should flourish in Sunshine Coast gardens with little or no attention. All but two are species, and so should produce fertile seed and may therefore reproduce and multiply. This list is far from comprehensive. I have chosen these plants because I have grown all of them from seed with little difficulty, and they have proved to be long-lasting and trouble-free in the garden. Besides, I like them.   * A plant native to the Pacific Northwest.

AA, acuminatum* (tapertip onion), cernuum* (nodding onion), flavum.

Anenome (wind flower)
AA. blanda (Grecian windflower), nemorosa (European wood anemone).

Aquilegia (columbine)
A. formosa* (crimson columbine).

BB. coronaria* (harvest brodiaea), hyacinthina* (fool’s onion).

Cammassia (camas, wild hyacinth)
CC. leichtlinii,* leichtlinii alba,* quamash* (camas).

Cornus (dogwood)
C. canadensis* (bunchberry, creeping dogwood).

Cyclamen (cyclamen)
There are twenty-three species in all. Those that naturalize most freely are C.
coum (late winter flowering) and C. hederifolium (late summer, early fall). Others that are
hardy but less prolific are CC. cilicium, graecum, libanoticum, mirabile, purpurascens.

Dianthus (pink)
DD. alpinus (alpine pink), pavonius (peacock-eye pink)

Dierama (wandflower)
D. pulcherrimum (angel’s fishing rod).

Dictamnus (gas plant, false dittany, Fraxinella)
D. Alba.

Dodecathion (shootingstar)
DD. pulchellum* (pretty shootingstar), hendersonii* (broad-leaved shootingstar).

E. hyemalis (winter aconite).

EE. oregonum* (white fawn lily), revolutum* (pink fawn lily)

Eryngium (eryngo, sea holly)
E. maritimum (sea holly).

Fritillaria (fritillary)
FF. acmopetala (pointed petal fritillary), affinis* (chocolate lily), camschatcensis*
(black lily, northern rice root), graeca, meleagris (snake’s head fritillary), pallidiflora.

F. procumbens (Creeping fuchsia).

Gentiana (gentian)
GG. asclepiadia (willow gentian), asclepiadia var. alba.

H. epipactis

Helleborus (hellebore)
HH, argutifolius (Corsican hellebore), foetidus (stinking hellebore, bearsfoot), x
hybridus (Lenten rose), lividus, niger (Christmas rose).

Hepatica (liverleaf)
H. nobilis.

Hyacinthoides (bluebells).
H. hispanica (Spanish bluebell).

Libertia (libertia)
LL. grandiflora, peregrinans.

Lilium (Lily)
LL columbianum* (Columbian lily), formosanum (Taiwanese lily), henryi (tiger
lily), martagon (Turk’s cap lily), pardalinium (leopard lily), parryi (lemon lily), pumilum
(coral lily).

Lobelia (lobelia)
LL. cardinalis (cardinal flower), syphilitica (great blue lobelia), tupa
(Devil’s tobacco).

Narcissus (narcissus, daffodil, jonquil)
NN. bulbocodium (hoop petticoat daffodil), cyclamineus (cyclamen-flowered
daffodil), jonquillia (rush daffodil).

Oxalis (wood sorrel)
O. oregana* (redwood sorrel).

Paeonia (peony)
Herbaceous perennials: PP. anomala, cambedessedesii (Majorcan peony), emodi
(Himalayan peony), japonica (Japanese peony), mairei, mascula (Balkan peony), obovata
(woodland peony), mlokosewitschii (golden peony, Caucasian peony), veitchii (Veitch’s

Woody species (tree peonies): PP. delavayi, lutea, rockii.

Paradisea (paradise lily)
PP. liliastrum (St. Bruno’s Lily), lusitanica.

Candelabra primulas: PP. beesiana (candelabra primrose), bulleyana, florindae
(Tibetan cowslip), japonica (Japanse cowslip), prolifera (glory-of-the-marsh),
pulverulenta (mealy cowslip), wilsonii.
Other primulas: PP. sieboldii (Japanese primrose), veris (cowslip), vulgaris
(primrose), x juliae ‘Wanda’.

R. myconi (Pyrenean violet)

S.Patens (Gentian sage — somewhat tender)

Scilla (squill)
SS. bifolia var, rosea, siberica (Siberian squill, wood squill).

Thalictrum (meadow rue)
T. delavayi (Yunnan meadow rue).

Trillium (wake-robin)
TT. ovatum* (western trillium), rivale (snow trillium).

Tulipa (tulip)
TT. batalinii,., sprengeri (Sprenger’s tulip), sylvestris (wild tulip), turkestanica
(Turkestan tulip).

Viola (violet).
V. odorata (sweet violet).

Many of these seeds will be hard to come by. Few will be found on garden centre seed
racks, fewer still in supermarkets. Some may be obtained from mail order catalogues.
Another source is botanic gardens, some of which package and sell seed collected on site.
Best of all are seed exchanges run by horticultural societies wherein members from
around the world contribute seed they have collected from their gardens and in the wild.
Packages are then distributed free, though only to members. So join up and pay your
Two such societies in the Pacific Northwest are:
The Alpine Garden Club of BC,
and the Northwest Perennial Alliance,

6 Tips to Keep Your Garden Healthy and Attractive

by Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun, May 5, 2014

(Based on information from Egan Davis, one of the top gardeners at VanDusen Botanical Garden and foreman at Park & Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver) 


If you only do one thing – mulch. Mulch protects the soil from sun and rain, reduces water demands and cuts back on weeding. Leaves are best, but soil amenders, composted bark and well-rotted manures are good, too. The idea is to mimic the cycle that happens in nature, especially in the forest where organic litter is continually promoting microbial activity and root growth. Use natural organic materials to amend your soil such as composted manures and real compost. The goal is to build up a good soil structure, stabilizing the balance of acidity and alkalinity (pH), increase nutrient content and foster lively microbial activity. 

Good soil management also involves using “green manure” crops in winter on vegetable beds, such as winter rye and red clover, although it is important not to overdo it with clover because it can pump too much nitrogen into the soil and produce excessive growth. Also stay away from packaged fertilizers. Soil chemistry is complex and you can throw off the balance with an inappropriate product application. Almost all soil deficiencies can be corrected using organic materials.


Check on the moisture of your soil throughout the season, not just in spring or fall. This is the only way to know when and how much to water. Check before watering and the day after to see how deep water goes. What gardeners often think are poor nutrition problems are often more to do with water problems – either too much or not enough water.


Allow plants time to go through their natural cycle. Don’t cut back perennials in fall. Leave them for interest and for the birds to peck away at. Don’t rake and clean the garden excessively. This will provide a healthier habitat for insects and an all sorts of beneficial organisms.


Don’t be afraid to make changes when you think they are needed. Shrubs can be moved or removed. Things can be changed, regardless of the time of year.


It is a “miracle to observe” a plant developing from a seed. Seed grown plants are healthiest. When directly sown in the garden, the root system is deep and well developed, as opposed to root balls on containerized plants.


Take time to learn about the life in your garden. Start by trying to identify all insects. Find out whether they are good or bad, and what their life cycles are. This process also involves becoming knowledgeable about birds and other creatures. You can attract birds by providing a water source and you can create a habitat by planting in multiple layers, such as an upper tree canopy, an understory of shrubs and lower level of herbaceous perennials. Having birds, bees and butterflies as regular visitors are always good signs that your garden is flourishing.


Bad pruning and over-fertilizing was his immediate answer. It is much better to move something if it is too big. As for fertilizing, doing it too much promotes soft, weak growth and invariably leads to pest and disease problems.



By Steve Wysall from information provided by Brad Jalbert — Vancouver Sun, April 5, 2013
  • Roses thrive best in open, sunny locations with fertile, slightly acidic soil. They flourish best with at least four hours of sun a day; six is ideal.
  • Good drainage is essential, although it is important for the soil to be moisture retentive. Once a rose is established and mulched, it needs watering only once a week.
  • Before planting, dig the ground to 18 inches (45 cm) and work in about a third of humus- rich material such as compost, peat moss, leaf mould or well-rotted manure.
  • If you’re replacing a rose with a new one, always replace the soil. Roses are prone to a mysterious condition called “specific replant disease.” Roses infect the soil in which they are growing to deter root competition from other roses.
  • The bud union, the knobbly point above the root system where a hybrid variety has been budded to the rootstock, should be set one to two inches (2.5 to five cm) below soil level to protect it. This also helps to prevent the plant rocking in winter winds.
  • Air circulation helps to keep foliage healthy, so don’t overcrowd your roses.
  • Water roses only around the roots to avoid the spread of soil-borne disease.
  • Don’t fertilize roses in the first year after planting. In subsequent years, you can feed as soon as the frost has gone and when new growth appears. Scratch super-phosphate with bone or blood meal or a quality commercial rose fertilizer lightly into the soil around the plants. Over-fertilizing is the No. 1 cause of rose death, so err on the cautious side.
  • When the ground warms up in spring, apply a two- to four-inch (5- to 10-cm) layer of mulch to conserve moisture, improve soil and suppress weeds.
  • Be vigilant for suckers coming from below ground level. These grow from the rootstock below the bud union and usually have leaves and thorns that are different from the rose. Wrench suckers off at their point of origin, popping them out of the sockets. Cutting them only encourages additional suckers to grow.
  • The best time to prune roses is at the end of the dormant period just as the buds begin to swell, before new growth begins. Most floribundas and hybrid teas can be pruned when you see yellow forsythia in bloom.
  • Deadhead (cut away the faded blooms) on roses that have the ability to rebloom. While it   is recommended to cut back to the first or second set of five leaves, this can be too invasive, taking away a lot of energy giving foliage. Deadheading is ultimately a decision you have to make looking closely at the rose and deciding what seems best.
  • Prune out all dead, diseased or damaged stems, then remove thin, wiry (decadent) stems that look unlikely to produce flowers. Prune out stems that rub against each other or cross one another. Keep in mind the overall shape of the bush.
  • Climbers are best given a light pruning when they finish flowering and again in early spring. To encourage maximum flower production, canes need to be trained to grow horizontally. The stems that grow up from the horizontal canes are called laterals. The laterals are where all the roses are produced. Laterals can be pruned in spring right back to the stem or to a couple of sets of leaves.
  • Main canes of climbers can be pruned back for length or if they show signs of winter dieback. On varieties that bloom just once, some of the older canes can be cut back to the base each spring. On all other climbers, remove old canes only when necessary to shape the plant and/ or prevent overcrowding. Don’t prune your roses hard in fall. You can, however, reduce the height of tall roses by 30 to 60 cm ( 12 to 24 inches) to prevent them being rocked by winds or vulnerable to heavy wet snow.

Organic vs Chemical Fertilizers

Intensive food gardening is almost certain to strip nutrients from the soil, nutrients we need to put back in order to grow vegetables year after year. The question then becomes: do you use chemical or organic fertilizer and why.

Most chemical fertilizers provide only nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). While these macro-nutrients are required in greater quantity than any others, they are only three of the thirteen nutrients plants need. The three chemicals that qualify as secondary nutrients – calcium, sulfur, and magnesium – are generally ignored, as are the trace nutrients: boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, and molybdenum. While these are needed in far smaller quantities than the macro-nutrients, they are still essential.

Pure chemicals can be hard on the earthworms and micro-organisms in the soil that keep it alive and working, thus making nutrients available to plants. Earthworms not only provide perhaps the best compost available, but they also help aerate soil when they tunnel through it. Without the beneficial effects of worms and micro-organisms, plants have a harder time accessing the secondary and micro-nutrients that are not found in most chemical fertilizers.

Chemical fertilizers can be equally hard on plants themselves, because they bypass the work a plant normally has to do to gain access to nutrients. Pure chemicals will make soil less nutritious, and lessen the plants’ ability to access nutrition.

Finally, chemical fertilizers are hard on the environment. Many are synthesized from oil, their production requires a significant investment of fossil fuels, and when they run off into streams or lakes, they can cause further problems. Algae blooms (the sudden growth of underwater plants) encouraged by agricultural run-off can consume oxygen needed by fish and other organisms. Fertilizer that leaches down to the water table may cause more direct threats to human health.

Organic fertilizers, far from being purified and simplified chemicals, are complex compounds that add numerous secondary and micro-nutrients beyond the one or two for which they are best known. Organics such as manures, powdered rocks (such as lime, rock phosphate, and greensand), blood meal, bone meal, wood ash and compost all contain important micronutrients and their texture will improve soil quality rather than degrading it.

Organics contain important secondary and trace nutrients; improve soil texture, aeration, and drainage; provide slow-release nutrition; aid the environment in many ways and harm it in few.

Fertilizer Formula

10 parts canola or cottonseed meal

1 part steamed bone meal

1 part kelp meal

1 part dolomite lime

¼ part blood meal (for dark greens only)

Most of the ingredients for this mix can be purchased at the garden centre. You can apply the fertilizer generously, working it into the soil under each plant. It won’t burn and it releases slowly. Use about one cup for each large plant, perhaps half that for a head of lettuce. Use about four litres per 100 square feet to prepare an entire bed. Sprinkle this mix lightly on each layer as you build your compost heap to supercharge decay. It will help break down tough material and create a very fine compost.

Adapted from Eric Vinje: Planet Natural, and Randy Shore: The Green Man, Vancouver Sun

Why Gardening is Good for Your Health

(Adapted from Steve Whysall, The Vancouver Sun, February 1, 2013)

Charlie Hall, professor in the department of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M University is one of the most influential leaders in horticulture in North America today because of the detailed research data and verifiable scientific work he has done to nail down precise data about the benefits of gardening.  Over two years, he gathered more than 400 research documents showing the benefits of gardening and other aspects of the horticultural industry.Here are just a few of his key findings:

  • People are able to concentrate better in the workplace or in the home and have better memory retention when they are around plants. Tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better with greater accuracy. Spending time in nature gives people an increased feeling of vitality, better energy levels and makes them feel more animated.
  • Research shows that kids learn faster when they are in a green environment. Those with attention deficit disorders have longer attention spans when they are in a natural gardenlike environment as opposed to a sterile, concrete classroom.
  • Gardening can act as therapy for people who have undergone trauma. The act of nurturing something is a way for people to work through the issues surrounding traumatic events and improve their mental health.
  • Residents are more likely to exercise if there is a community park or landscaped area nearby. Exercise improves their health through physical fitness which can cut health care costs.
  • Simply by landscaping a formerly crime- ridden park, a community can be transformed into a safe and friendly neighbourhood environment. Parks also give people a reason to come together and become a tight- knit community.
  • Beautiful parks and landscapes enable communities to reap benefits from ecotourism. “In this new green environmentally- conscious era people are becoming more interested in exploring the beauty of nature while maintaining its integrity. Botanical gardens and other public gardens and green spaces should be supported without hesitation by local government.
  • Studies show that people who spend time cultivating plants have less stress. Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves people’s moods and reduces the likelihood of stress- related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed.
  • The presence of plants in hospital recovery rooms and/ or views of esthetically- pleasing gardens help patients to heal faster, due to the soothing effects of ornamental horticulture.
  • People who spend extended lengths of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others. This is due to measurable increases in feelings of compassion, another effect of exposure to ornamental plants. Studies also have proven that people who spend more time outside in nature have better mental health and a more positive outlook on life.
  • Maintaining parks and botanical gardens is a crucial contribution to the sustainment of biodiversity in local communities. Biodiversity is crucial to human affairs because it affects the balance between ecosystems.


The Secret of success with Rhododendrons


By Ron Knight, Caron Gardens.

Most rhododendrons in cultivation are happiest when you provide them with the conditions that exist in the mountainous regions of Asia where their ancestors lived. These conditions include:

  • Lots of moisture moving through well-drained soil

Rhododendrons in the Himalayas live in a cloud forest, often on steep slopes. They receive a nearly constant supply of moisture, yet water does not pool around their roots, driving out air. Coarse, well-drained soil allows rhododendron roots to absorb the large amounts of oxygen that they need for healthy growth.

  • Acidic soil

In areas where there is plenty of rainfall, the water solution between the soil particles is acidic. Rhododendrons must be grown in a soil like this, where the pH is between 5 and 6. In this pH range, dissolved nutrients are in the optimal chemical form for efficient absorption by the root hairs.

  • A mulch covering over the root zone

In the Himalayas, the soil under rhododendrons in covered by a layer of dead leaves, flowers, twigs, etc. This loose mulch helps keep the roots cool, prevents them from drying out, protects them from sudden changes in temperature, particularly in winter, and blocks out weeds. Hot, wet conditions around the roots, on the other hand, make rhododendrons more susceptible to fungus attacks.

  • Protection from strong winds

Small-leafed, low-growing, clump-forming rhododendrons can survive on windy slopes above the tree line. However, most rhododendrons in the cold Himalayan climate grow best underneath tall trees that provide protection from strong winds.

The Pacific Northwest is rhododendron heaven because most of these environmental factors are easy to duplicate. For example, at Caron Gardens, a rhododendron display garden in Pender Harbour, the native forest soil is acidic, with pH around 5. At least 70% of any forest soil sample is composed of organic matter and sand, which provides superb drainage even in areas that are not on hillsides. Silt and clay occur in very small amounts. Moss and a mulch of coniferous tree debris keep roots cool. The garden is in zone 7 and in this milder kind of climate, over 95% of the rhododendrons benefit from maximum sunshine, which results in a higher percentage of blooms and a bushier plant habit. For the remaining 5% of rhododendrons (big-leafed and tender varieties) filtered shade and wind protection are provided by towering Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees.

In fact, the only environmental factor that is lacking is a constant supply of moisture. Even though the Pacific Northwest receives plenty of rain, it resembles a cloud forest (thankfully) for only a short time each year. Particularly during the summer, there can be several weeks in a row that are sunny, hot and dry. Such conditions put stress on rhododendrons at the very time they are most in need of water for the production of new leaves and the next year’s flower buds.

If you understand these environmental needs of rhododendrons and the conditions in your area, it is not difficult to grow superb specimens. Here are 7 steps that will ensure your rhododendrons receive optimal growing conditions:

1)      Thoroughly soak the rhododendron root ball for a few minutes in a wheelbarrow full of water.

2)      Dig a shallow yet wide hole. Try to stay as far away as possible from cedar trees because their roots are invasive and their leaves form a very dense canopy.

3)      Prepare a soil mix of approximately equal parts of mulch, steer manure, topsoil or compost, and peat moss. Stir these components together with the native soil in the hole and then add water. Never add mushroom manure because it is alkaline and full of salts. One of the best investments ($60) you can make in your garden is to mail a soil sample to Pacific Soil Analysis inRichmond  (604 273 8226) and have them send you recommendations for amending your particular soil.

4)      Use a knife to score the root ball vertically in several places around the edge if the roots have started to grow in circles. Otherwise, just fluff up the roots gently.

5)      Plant the rhododendron slightly above grade and surround the root ball with the soil mix. Do not stamp down the soil around the plant. (If you’re on rock or clay, make a raised bed so that the rhododendron will be planted in a mound of the new soil mix above the hard, poorly draining material.)

6)      Cover the area to within a few inches of the stem with about 3 inches of loose mulch. Almost any material (bark, pine needles, leaves, straw, gravel, etc.) will do. Don’t use sawdust, grass clippings, or commercial peat moss. Moreover, bone meal is unnecessary and you need not add fertilizer for the first year.

7)        Water the area frequently during the first growing season, especially during the summer months. If you have a large garden, a drip irrigation system will save hours of hand watering and ensure that moisture goes directly to the roots and not to the weeds.

Planting and watering your rhododendrons is not the end, by any means. In order to maintain superb-looking specimens, you will need to learn to prune, transplant, deadhead, fertilize, and protect them from pests and disease. Consider doing some reading from the internet or taking a workshop offered by Caron Gardens, entitled: “How to Grow Great Rhododendrons”.

10 Tips on Dividing Perennial Plants

Divide to make healthier plants – and more of them

by Janet Macunovich author of Designing Your Gardens and Landscapes and Caring for Perennials 

1. Divide when a plant looks good

Don’t wait until a plant has become decrepit or monstrous to divide it. When it looks its best, divide it at the end of that year. Watch for these early signs of trouble: when the center of the plant has smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and weaker blooming stalks than the outer edges or when the plant runs out of growing room on its edges and has nowhere to go but into neighboring plants.

2. Start at the drip line

To lift a perennial with minimal root damage, begin digging at its drip line. The roots will generally extend that far, so digging there lets you lift the plant with most of its roots intact. Dig a trench around the clump, cleanly severing any roots, then cut at an angle down and under the clump from various points around the outer edge until you can lever the plant out of the hole. For large, heavy plants, you may have to first dig the trench, then slice straight down through the center of the plant as if it was a pie, halving or quartering the clump before under­cutting and lifting it.

In early spring, divide while the new growth is still low to the ground, so the handling of stems is not usually an issue. In sum­mer, tie stems together before lifting the plant to avoid damaging them during the digging. In fall, cut plants back before digging them for division.

3. Divide in cool weather

Perennials can be divided at any time of the year if you give the plant appro­priate care afterward. However the best time is when the soil is warmer than the air for at least part of every 24-hour period. That’s just before peak daffodil season in spring and right after the nights become cool in the fall. These con­ditions will allow the roots of the division to grow while the tops stay low, out of the sun and wind. Dividing in the fall gives plants more time to set new roots before growing up into the heat.

4. Keep roots cool and moist

Put them into a bucket or box in a cool shaded place, such as a garage, and cover them with newspaper to retard moisture loss. Sprinkle water to dampen the newspaper if the roots seem to be drying during their “hold” time. If, despite your best efforts, the divisions dry out while on hold, soak them in a bucket of water for about an hour before replanting.

5. Replenish soil with organic matter

If you remove a wheelbarrow full of perennials, then put a wheel­barrow full of compost back into that site before replanting to renew the soil, stay ahead of pest problems, and maintain fertility. Without additions, the plants will not have the advantage of renewed, fertile soil and the bed will settle after planting, putting the plants at a disadvantage in terms of drainage and air circulation.

6. Use vigorous sections first

After dividing, replant pieces that are, at most, 20 to 25 percent of the original clump. Smaller sections grow more vigorously and tend to produce stronger, longer-lasting blooms. Dividing a hosta, for example, into pieces with about seven growing points will yield the best results. Perennials multiply exponentially—one stem is likely to triple or quadruple itself each year. So if all you do is halve an overgrown clump this year, it will more than double in a season and need dividing again the next year.

7. Take extra care when a plant’s in bloom

Plants in bloom may not be capable of growing as many new roots as quickly as nonblooming plants. However, given more attentive watering or shade ad midday and plants in bloom will do well.

8. Keep only the healthiest pieces

If you wait until a perennial is declining, has a dead center, or has succumbed to pest problems because it has become crowded and weak, be sure to replant only the healthiest pieces. Usually these are the outside sections. Watch for discolored stems and eroded crowns and roots.

9. Spread out your divisions

Place a division into a hole that is at least as wide as its roots when spread out. Don’t turn a root tip up rather than down or curl it back around on itself to fit it into an undersize hole because you’ll defeat the plant’s natural regrowth mechanisms.

Root tip growth is regulated in part by chemicals flowing down from the tips of leafy stems to the roots. As in all flows, gravity is involved, so if you plant a root tip up when it was down, the normal flow is interrupted. At least temporarily, that root tip will not grow as vigorously as it could.

Replant divisions in a wide hole and over a wide area. Spread out the roots wide and down over a mound of soil. In the next growing season, the top of the plant will be as wide as the roots are at the time of plant­ing. Ensure that when you spread out the roots they don’t overlap and compete with the other divisions.

10. Let the roots be your guide

When you dig up a perennial, you will see that it fits into one of five basic root types: roots that form clumps or offsets, surface roots, underground running roots, taproots, or woody roots. How you proceed depends on what root type your plant has.

Offsets: To divide a plant whose roots form offsets (small plants growing at the base of a larger one), snap the connection between any of the sections to obtain a piece with ample roots and three or more growing points (or “eyes”). Some denser clumps may have to be cut apart.

Plants that form offsets include asters (Aster spp. coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), hostas (Hosta spp.), tickseeds (Coreopsis spp.).

Surface roots: Some perennials have roots that run on or just below the surface of the soil. They form new crowns and roots when they reach open spaces or make contact with the soil. If you cut between any of the stems as you would cut a piece of sod from a lawn, you will have a division with its own stems and roots.

Plants with surface roots include bee balms (Monarda spp.), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.), creeping sedums (Sedum spp.), creeping speedwells (Veronica spp.).

Taproots: Plants that have taproots can be divided by using a sharp knife to slice down the length of the root. Every piece that has at least one eye, some of the taproot, and a few side roots is a viable division.

Plants that have taproots include balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus), butterfly weeds (Asclepias tuberosa), cushion spurges (Euphorbia polychroma), Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale).

Underground running roots: Underground running roots can develop suckers as they grow beyond the shade of the mother clump. These suckers can be cut away from the main plant, or you can dig up the main plant and cut away any piece with an eye or sucker already forming.

Plants with underground running roots include hardy geraniums (Geranium spp.), Japanese anemones (Anemone × hybrida ), ostrich fern (Matteuccia pennsylvanica,), plume poppies (Macleaya spp.).

Woody roots: Woody perennials often form roots when stems rest on the ground or are buried by gradually accumulating mulch. Make a new plant by simply cutting between the rooted stem and the mother plant.

Plants that have woody roots include candytufts (Iberis spp. ), euonymus (Euonymus spp.), lavenders (Lavandula spp.), sages (Salvia spp. )

When you divide your perennials make sure that you save some for the plant sale!

Seed Starting

by Verity Goodier

What works for me jump starting seeds in the spring – a few reminders:

1. If you collect your own seeds at the end of summer, make sure they are bone dry and store them in paper in the fridge, having ‘cleaned’ them of husks, etc. before storage. Label.

2. Everything used for starting seeds needs to be ultra clean. Good hygiene is essential. Using seed starter mix, fill container within ¼” top. Sow seeds thinly (fine seed can be mixed with sand to get better distribution). The soil is dry at this time. Tap down lightly to ensure seed contact with soil. Cover with vermiculite, sand or starter mix and place small container in a water-tight tray. Label. Water the seeds by adding water to the tray so that the container is watered from the bottom-up. I continue to water this way until the seeds are big enough to transplant, and have never had problems with damping off.

3. At this point cover the water-tight tray with a translucent cover and place over bottom heat. Heater cables are ideal, but top of fridge or hot water heater will do. Seeds need warmth and moisture. Check seeds every day.

4. As soon as there is a showing of green they need to be moved into full spectrum light to avoid becoming leggy. I use a bank of fluorescent tubes, one warm white and one cold white seems to be adequate. I use a timer on for 16 hours a day. The lights initially need to be about 5″ above seeds. Every day I take the lid off the tray, dry it and replace it. Seedlings need bright light and excellent air circulation.

5. Keep an eye on watering, don’t over water. Lift pot to judge if it needs water – too light = too dry. Use room temperature water that has been sitting overnight to dispel chlorine.

6. I fertilize lightly with 20-20-20 (just enough to faintly colour the water) about once a week once true leaves have formed.

7. If damping off occurs throw soil and seeds away and start over.

8. When large enough to pot on, I let the seeds dry out for a couple of days to make it easier to separate tangled roots (with a kitchen fork). Always handle by leaves, not stem.

9. Tomato seeds are still viable after many years of storage. I use a 9-pack cell container and put a single seed in each segment so that roots aren’t compromised when thinning out. Remember that when you pot on tomatoes you can bury the stem right up to the first true leaves – the stem will grow roots for you and make the plant sturdier.