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Savory Seedlings

This week I hovered over my sown seeds every few hours looking for any signs of life. A time or two, I came just short of getting out a hand lens. Maybe I’m a little impatient? These are all Southeastern native plants that I sowed in January to try to give them the cold period they need before sprouting. I’ve kept them on my unheated porch, where temperatures typically fall into the 40s or 50s at night. That may not be cold enough (or enough cold) for some of them, especially with the early warm nights we’ve had. We’ll see.

Where did I get seeds of native plants, you might ask. At the Southern Piedmont Chapter of the North Carolina Native Plant Society‘s December seed exchange, a propagation class at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, in the gift shop at the UNC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, from a couple of gardening friends, and by collecting some from plants I already have. Seeds of native plants aren’t always easy to come by, but it is worth it to try to find them.

Here’s what I planted:

winter sown seedsButterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida)
American vervain (Verbena hastata)
Hoary skullcap (Scutellaria incana)
Whorled-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis major)
Firepink (Silene virginica)
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum)
New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus)
Browneyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)
Spurred butterfly pea (Centrosema virginianum)
Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)
Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)
Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

So far the spurred butterfly pea and the wild quinine have sprouted (yay!!), but the tray otherwise looks about the same. I’m looking forward to lots of beautiful natives for my woodland and butterfly gardens, though.

A little more satisfying at the moment is the green shooting up at the windowsill inside. I decided at the beginning of January that I would get back to my herbal roots — herbs (and miniature roses) are the reason I got interested in gardening in the first place so many years ago — so I ordered lots of herb seeds from Richter’s and Baker’s Creek, and picked up a few Botanical Interests packets from Pike’s.

I tried to choose things that might have a shot at growing in part shade, and also that had at least two or three potential uses. I’ve never grown herbs for medicinal reasons before, but this year I added a few of those as well.

Seedlings on the Windowsill

Here’s what’s coming up:

Basil, Dark Purple Opal
Basil, Greek Yevani
Bronze fennel
Thyme, Lime
Summer savory
Winter lemon savory
Creeping savory
Wild basil
Nepitella
Vietnamese mint
Lemon beebalm
Shiso
Salad burnet
Moringa
Wild strawberry
Cranberry hibiscus
Mexican Sour Gherkin
Mitsuba
Calendula
Agastache, Apricot Sprite
Nasturtium, Alaska Red Shades
Zinnia, Lilliput Mix
Tong Ho
Cowslip
Clary sage
Echinacea
Milk thistle
Motherwort
Dragonhead balm
Balsam, Camellia Mix
Sweet four o’clock
Marigold, Legion of Honour
Tassel flower, Irish Poet

That’s a long list for me! I’m fairly certain I’ve never had so many seedlings, and I still have more packets on the way.

We have several weeks until our last frost date (April 15), so keeping them all alive until then will be a challenge. They look too wet in this photo, don’t they? And too thin? This is most sun I can give them…maybe I should buy lights. Ugh, the concerns of a plant parent.

Did you start any seeds this year? Any favorites?

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Somebody’s going to be busy over the next few months. Me, too! My best showing of the moment is the Painted Buckeye that I sowed last fall. I think that they’re all up and growing a couple of inches a week. My Butterflyweed is up, too. Very satisfying. Many are on their second year and starting to appear (about time!). It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? And, a lot of work. But, worth it. Most days…

    1. I’m almost afraid to leave the house these days for fear my little seedlings might need a drink while I’m gone! I suppose I need to start thinking about thinning and/or repotting them now, which means even more to water. I’m so excited to have so many plants, though! And so many different kinds. How cool that you have some painted buckeyes coming along! I think those might be my favorite buckeyes.

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