}

July 5, 2006

Perennials from seed - do the math


Primula "Wanda" blue from seed

Even though I should have repotted these seedlings earlier, growing Primorses from seed is by far the most economical way to start a collection, and since many of the species and crosses are hard to find in the trade, especially in any quantity, the benefits of sacraficing a few hours is well worth it.



First, do the math. These seedlings of Primula Wanda 'blue strain" are sold only at a fe mail order catalogs, ranging from $8.00 to $12.00 a single plant, then factor in the shipping cost at around %20 and the small window in which they can be shipped (early spring or after September, you can clearly see how a $12.00 packet of seed can be so cost effective when you end up with over 120 plants, which will bloom in thier second year.


The seed may seem costly at first, but that is because I not only by seed from the North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange (NARGS) and the American Primula Society seed echange (APS), where packets are free or only a dollar or so, I also buy pre-chilled seed from commercial suppliers, like Jelitto in Germany. A twelve dollar packet of thier pre-treated perennial seed ranges from $4.00 to 12.00 for more unusual varieties, but if you are interested in getting near 90% germination and don;t wish to fuss with freezing the posts and chilling hte seed to stratify, they have done the work for you.
I grow seed from all types of sources, but I still order some prechilled seed from Jelitto every year, for things like Rodgersia, Trycyrtis, Campanual and more, basically, those varieties that I would like to plant in larger numbers, but that I feel are too costly at $12-$18. per plant at a nursery. If you have ever visited Kew Gardens in ENgland, you can see how effective 18 to 30 plants of each perennial is when planted in an area. In fact, that is the only way to plant when you want a garden to look like a real English border, or like the cover of a White Flower Farm catalog. It's simply a fact of Math. I see so many peopl buying one to three plants of something like Echinacea, when they should be planting a clump of at least 15 pots to get a display that looks right.

Now you could easily end up with a surplus of Rodgersia, which isn't a bad thing at all!
NExt spring, try ordering pre-chilled seed from Jelitto, and by Autumn, you could be planting out hundreds of plants that you could otherwise never afford to plant in drifts.

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