Category Archives: How To

Nightshift: Pollen Collection

Sarracenia Heavy Veined

It’s that time of year again! Blooms are forming fast and rising over the mass of last years foliage wreckage! This year promises to be a much better year than last in many aspects. The first two crosses of the season were done yesterday, 5 March 2013, and the crosses were S. (rosea “Big Mama” x flava ornata) x flava “Heavy Veined” and S. (areolata x ‘Dana’s Delight’) x flava “Heavy Veined.” Good stuff! In this post, I wanted to share a few photos of how I collected pollen a few nights ago. (Now that I have the lights set up, my work hours in The Asylum aren’t limited by the daylight.) See, the plants will bloom at different times depending on species or parentage; storing pollen offers up more flexibility and more options become available in possible crosses. I am not sure how long pollen can last, but some have said that if it is stored in the freezer, it can last much longer. I think I heard 6 months but not entirely sure about that. Our subject (photographed above) is S. flava “Heavy Veined.” The plant develops a wonderful deep dark solid interior color underneath the hood with a very nice stocky shape to the pitcher. I hope to use this influence in future crosses. Since nothing else is really in bloom that I want to use it on just yet, I save the pollen just for that purpose.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen Collection
HAWT! We dropin’ pollen. Makin’ it rain all up in here…

In past years I’ve used empty paint canisters, or used plastic shot glasses to store pollen. This year I just went down to a local restaurant supply store and picked up those little containers they use for condiments for pollen storage use. Now keep in mind, many others have various different ways and styles of collecting and storing pollen. I’m simply sharing what I do that works for me.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen CollectionSexy! Sexy pollen!

I wait for the pollen to drop into the style (see illustration of flower parts in this post) to harvest it. I try to do this as early as possible to ensure fresh pollen collection. Also, right before collecting, I’ll also give it light tap on top of the flower to encourage more pollen to drop out of the anthers. Next, I will carefully tilt the flower, then gently give it a light gentle shake so that the pollen slides into the container. One can even tilt the entire pot with the plant to minimize flower aggravation. Again, it’s important to do this early enough when pollen freshly drops and it makes it easier to slide the pollen out of there between the stigmas. I find it easier to do this with the larger flowers that have the stigmas located higher up away from the pollen. If you’re careful enough not to get any pollen on the stigmas, the flower can also be used as a pollen recipient. If you are only after the pollen of said plant, you can just freakin’ chop the entire flower off, rip that style off, dump the pollen in a container, then discard flower in compost. Alternatively, you can cut the flower off at the base, stick in a small vase of water, then place the entire thing in the fridge. I know others who do this too. Again, lots of different ways to do this.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen CollectionLabel yo’ stuff.

Next – and very importantly, LABEL the container! I took a fine sharpie and wrote it on the lid AND on the side of the container to make sure there’s no mix up. Finally, I put the container in the fridge to store. I didn’t get a photo of it, but finally got a fridge for the greenhouse!! YEAH! (Thanks again Dez n’ June!) In the past I’ve gotten use out of the pollen for about a month or two. I don’t know to what extent the pollen can be stored and still be viable as I’ve never had to really go outside of 1-2 months for crosses. Hope that you found this post helpful! Looking forward to seeing what this year will bring and what everyone else will be working on. Now get out there and get crossing!

Cheers everyone!

Saving Seedlings

Growing from seed is awesome. Under those tiny husks lie the dream of new and great plants, the hope of genetic preservation, and the culmination of ideas made tangible and manifest.

Oh, but when fungus/botrytis attacks: that’s when it’s totally UNAWESOME. Dude, it sucks! You gotta be very vigilant because once some of that fuzzy crap hits, it can spread like crazy. A few causes of this could be things like over crowding, poor water quality, poor air circulation, and/or a combination of all of the above. Seeds and media have the potential to carry nasty spores that will jump at the chance to grow when provided the opportunity. Prevention is key here. Now that I have space, I plan on giving my next year’s crop lots of space to allow air and light to penetrate.

I’ve had to move the plants and seeds from one location to another this past year and no doubt the stress, the conditions, and crowding contributed to the outbreak. Hey, it happens!

The crop below is of an anthocyanin free (AF) cross I did using Sarracenia ((purpurea ssp. purpurea f. heterophylla x rubra ssp. jonesii) x (leucophylla x rubra ssp. gulfensis)) x mitchelliana – AF clone. Yeah, I know. I love ’em greens.

Seedling RepotUgh, gross!

So, how did I deal with it? I’ve tried to use a sulfur based fungicide, but that does not always do the trick. Once that botrytis fungus hits, it can be a huge pain to get rid of and spraying may not always work. Many of the seedlings as you can see have succumbed to the f*ckin’ grossness, yet a few of the plants still look salvageable. First off, I was sure to glove up as I posted about here.

Next, I began to separate and trim off the crappy dead foliage. I make sure that the foliage is disposed of in an area far away from the growing area when all done.

Left: I grabbed a clump from the infected seedling pile.
Right: Clipping off as much of the dead foliage as possible.

 

An important note here is that after the use of the trimming apparatus it is a good practice to clean/sterilize the clippers. Simple use of a 1 to 10 ratio bleach / water solution, or even something like Clorox cleaning wipes can do the trick. I did not have my lighter on me at the time, but I would imagine dousing the tools in alcohol + flame would work just as fine. You don’t want to spread any Sarracenially Transmitted Diseases…

I separate the salvaged seedlings out in a separate working tray and begin to pot these up in fresh media and giving them plenty of room. Some folks say that at this young age, the young plants are “too fragile” to be moved about. In my experience the young plants could more than handle all of this jostling about. I mean, check out those young and strong healthy root systems!

Seedling RepotSalvaged seedlings.

Next I fill a pot with fresh potting media. My typical mix is a rough 1 part peat to 1 part perlite ratio. In the shot below, I threw in a little bit of horticultural sand. I dig a hole using the label, (a pencil also works) and gently lower the roots in. I’ll then  use the label to also gently guide the roots in. Next I backfill the hole and give it a nice press to ensure the roots are happy and snug.

Potting up the cleaned and salvaged seedlings.

Gotta be sure to give these guys room for light and air. I used a 3.5 inch pot and put 4-5 seedlings in each pot. They should be good for another year or two at this stage. I’ll then give them a nice watering and set them aside in a separate quarantine area of the greenhouse away from the rest of the plants to monitor their growth and (hopefully) speedy recovery.

Seedling RepotAll clean and happy!

After I was done with this salvage project, I was sure to clean up my garden area and tools. Gloves were then disposed, and I wiped down with some hand sanitizer. I’ll update you in the coming weeks as to how these babies fare! Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

***

Photo credit: All photos in this post were taken by my talented and musical niece, Khadijah. Since I was gloved up with fungus covered gloves, I was not too keen on handling the camera. Thanks again, Khadijah! You rock!

Keeping the Dust Down

I’m getting around to repotting a few plants here and there and thought I would share a quick little tip on keeping the dust down when working with perlite (or any dusty media material for that matter). In my potting mix, I use a rough one part peat to one part perlite mix. Sometimes I use more peat in the mix, or even pure peat as my potting medium… but yeah, the Sarrs don’t seem picky.

I hope that those of you out there that work with perlite don’t be a puff-puffin’ on the stuff in hopes of getting your garden fix. You’ll have better luck with other white powdery stuff. Uhhhh ok. So anyway… when you work with perlite, please take precaution! DO NOT to breath that dust in. It can irritate your respiratory system, and the stuff may contain crystalline silica. Inhaling that can lead to some nasty respiratory issues. You may want to wear something like the last photo in this public service announcement safety post.

How do I deal with it? A quick and simple trick is once you open up the bag, run water through it to keep the dust down. That’s it! Nice and simple. Gardening is awesome, but little things like this will help ensure a healthier garden experience. Remember, practice safe gardening.

Water PerlitePractice safe gardening. Moisten your perlite.

 

Water Testing

Water TestTesting… testing…

In carnivorous plant cultivation, water is a very important part of the equation.  The water used ideally should be as pure as possible – but in many instances, it may not be practical to constantly purify or buy purified water. Especially once you get a sizable collection! (By the way, read up on water for carnivores in this beautifully written FAQ over at Barry Rice’s site HERE.) See, these plants have adapted to nutrient deficient soils and have a sensitivity to minerals/salts. I’ve had my share of fun water-purifying adventures, but am thankful that now I’m in a place where I can just water straight from the tap! (Oh… say WHAAAAT? Tap? Yea boyeee!) The water at my new location is clean enough and I can actually use it without any fancy/expensive filtering equipment. Thank goodness! So, how do you know if your water is good enough? Simple – test it! I purchased my TDS meter above online years ago. (TDS meter in photo. No, that’s  not one of those sticks you pee on. Well you can, but it wouldn’t tell you if you’re pregnant or anything…)

Anyway, the TDS meter basically tests the amount of Total Dissolved Solids in the water. I can’t recall the exact store I got this from, but it was pretty inexpensive. Units typically run around $20. All I do is simply fill the cap or a container up with some water, then dip the prongs into it. It then gives me a reading. The level in the photo reads 124ppm. (PPM stands for Parts Per Million.) The lower the number, the better. You’ll find a range of opinions on how high this PPM number can be. Some say the number should never exceed 100 PPM. Some say 150 PPM. The idea is that the lower that number, the better.  At the last decrepit greenhouse I was in the water levels were approaching and even occasionally exceeded 300 PPM! Ugh. That’s just straight FUGLY! I dealt with that madness by using a deionizer (basically a system that removes minerals from the water) but that crap is expensive!

The water in the photo reads 124 PPM. Some days it’s 70. Others 140. Yeah, it varies from day to day but I’m fine with that cuz for the most part, it’s clean! At my first place I would get readings of around 170, and the plants were fine for years. To prevent build up of salts and minerals from the water, I would change the potting media every 2-3 years. I grew quite a few plants outdoors and the rain would wash all that build up away for me anyway. The water tables I am putting together aren’t too deep, so the cool thing is that I’ll be able to top water the plants to flush potential mineral build up out of the media every now and then. Yeah!

Starting Seeds 2012 – The Next Generation

Back on Sunday, 13 May, 2012 (Mother’s Day), Dahlia and I started to sow the seeds that I’ve left in cold stratification for an extended period of time. I put the seeds in on 26 January, 2012. In the past I’ve left the seeds in cold stratification (or “cold strat” as I like to call it for short) on average anywhere between 4-6 weeks. These babies were in there for a while longer than what I was used to doing in the past. (According to TimeandDate.com, they’ve been in there for 108 days, or 3 months and 17 days.) I was a bit worried that it would be too long for them, but you know what? They turned out FINE!

It’s been a very rough year for me thus far filled with interesting challenges as you’ve probably read about here, here, here, here, and here. Planting these seeds in hopes of future greatness always gives me a faint glimmer of hope that something freakishly awesome will come forth. Isn’t that what breeders hope for every year they make these crosses?


Sarracenia seeds in cold strat, next to the Marionberry jam.

Above is a shot of the seeds in the baggies in the fridge. Next to the Marionberry Jam I got from Seattle. See this post for details on how I prepared the babies for cold strat. Essentially, I am stratifying them in media and all I do next is empty that media into their future germinating pot/home. If I had the time, I really would prefer to let Mama Nature do the stratification. With the amount of seeds and crosses that I usually end up doing, one less step for me could be a good thing. I know many other growers who do stratify in au naturale mode – outdoors, and it works fine. It is just that I’m quite limited on space when it comes to preparation so I decide to do it this way. Again, for you growers out there, I encourage you to try and experiment new methods for yourselves; do whatever works for you. I would love to get some ideas and see how you all handle your seed process!

Got Pot? I was fortunate enough to have some new pots (unused and clean!) to use for this process. I was so so sooooo very glad that I didn’t have to perform any epic toilet scrubber scrubbing pot action awesomeness. If you decided to re-use any type of potting containers, I suggest that you make sure they are clean before starting germination. You don’t want any nasty fungus crap or weird pests sneaking into your germinating area. Stuff like that can be prevented, and you don’t want to loose seedlings unnecessarily. To clean pots, you can soak in a light bleach solution overnight and rinse them out very well the next day. Here I have fiddy-two (52) pots for the seed packs that I have. In years past I’ve done upwards of 120-ish crosses. That may seem like a lot of crosses to some, but this is only a fraction of crosses when compared to some others growers and breeders I know.  With these numbers, the amount of work can be kinda staggering. In the end though, it truly is worth it. For me at least. I’m a bit masochistic perhaps. Yeah baby! Oh, and as a side note about those packs, one of those packs contain Darlingtonia california seeds from fellow grower Sam Brookhardt. (Hit him up on twitter @sammliberty.)

Use protection. Another thing I would also suggest before you buck wild getting dirty is that it’s OK to use protection. Ok, ok – I admit, I love to get nasty and dirty. Hell yes. It’s fun. I love to feel and penetrate the dirt with my bare hands and become one with the earth I’m working with. But the reality is that it’s wise to use protection. Check out an earlier post on using protection. My protection of choice is a nice fitting thin-yet-strong set of nitrile gloves. They don’t tear as easy as latex, and are thin enough to allow me to feel the pleasure of getting down and dirty with the plants. As I mentioned in that post, I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer around in the greenhouse and wipe down after I take my gloves off. I’ll also wash with soap and water once I can get to a sink cuz’ that’s just the clean thing to do.

Prepare the house. My seeds this year are being started indoors in the garage. To start the seeds indoors, I needed some type of housing – a tray system to put those pots in. In the past I’ve used aquariums. Here’s an example of when I started my 2010 crosses in 2011. Now, these current pots wouldn’t really fit the way I wanted into those standard 10 x 20 inch flats, so I decided to use an old hydro tray thing from my local cannabis growing and supply …er… hydroponics store. I ran down to my local hydro store and picked up a smaller used white flood tray. I like white because of the light reflection. I will be starting these seeds off under lights after all and figure it would help.Since it was a used tray, I took the additional precaution of cleaning the large tray with a diluted solution of bleach, about 1 part to every 10 of water. It was soaked overnight, and I rinsed it out the next day. After the rinse, I also washed it down with soap and water both inside and outside then rinsed that off very well. Yes, a bit much perhaps. Then again I don’t want to lose any seedlings to any weird crap that could of easily been prevented.

Above on the left I added a type of egg crate lighting diffuser thing that is used in fluorescent fixtures. This serves as a platform for the pots. There are grooves up in that tray and the pots would otherwise sit kind of wonky there. If you look carefully, underneath the crate you can see the deep grooves. I simply trimmed that egg create thingmabobber with scissors in order to fit the flooring of the tray. I did this to have a nice even surface for the pots to sit on. In the photo above right, you can see all the pots fitting and sitting in the tray quite happily.

 
Plugging it up.

Plug the drainage. Next I hydrated some long fiber sphagnum moss. I bought a bulk compressed bale and hydrated some in a tray. As you can see in the photo above left, the rest of the 1 kg bale is in the plastic bag and I am hydrating the rest in the container. In the photo above right, I’m placing the damp sphagnum moss at the bottom of each pot. Next, I repeat 51 more times. I do this to keep the peat moss media in the pot. I’ve used weed block in the past. I hear others use coffee filters, or even paper towels. Now, you don’t have to do this step (and I don’t really do this for the rest of my plants), but I like to keep the peat moss from seeping out of the pot. When the peat moss seeps out because of the water it’s sitting in, the peat level in the pot will drop as it settles and can look kind of funky. At least to me it does. Now, the peat will settle but at least wont be flooding out of the pot. This step for me this is just personal preference.


Bottom of the pots lined with long fiber sphagnum moss.

Stuff it, baby! After lining the pots with the long fiber sphagnum moss, it’s time to stuff with your potting media! I use a 1:1 ratio of peat moss to perlite. I’ve used things like pure peat, or coarsely chopped long fiber sphagnum, or peat/sand, and even a combination of all things listed. Again, use whatever works well for you! With 52 pots that needed stuffing – and me feeling somewhat lazy, I asked the awesome rad wifey, to help me out with the pot stuffing project. You know it’s love when your spouse dosen’t mind getting dirty with you. Heh! (Thanks Mahal!)

 
Dahlia stuffin’ the pots with planting media.


Pots stuffed and happy!

Setting the stage. I wanted to have the seed tray raised off the floor just to make it easier to look at the seeds. Now, I didn’t have any spare potting benches or tables lying around, so I set the stage all McGyver style by using buckets. I also had these wooden things laying around so I used that for – like, 2 more inches of height. This is the platform for the next generation – freekin’ buckets. Hey, whatever works right!? Next I set the entire tray on there just to test the sizing out, and it all worked out quite nicely.

Prepare for light. So since I didn’t have any lighting shelves or whatnot, I decided to use 6 pots as a lighting stand. The black pots above are simply serving as a platform for the light fixtures that I have. If I had white pots, that would be ideal as I’d have more light reflectivity going on, but for now – this works. It’s also cool because I can just water the entire tray by pouring water into one of those pots. The pots that serve as a lighting stand here will have the lamps set on top. That leaves about 4 inches over the other pots that contain will soon contain the seeds.

It’s about time. The photo above left is the timer I am using. I set the timer to turn on at 5 am and off at 9pm – a 16 hour photo period. I’ve had great success with 24 hour photo periods. That also gave me a great electricity bill, LOL!  Anyway, I have 2 spare lighting fixtures that I’m using – kinda mismatched with 2 different fixtures, but hey — it works. Both fixtures are using 32 watt T-12 fluorescent fixtures. I think someone mentioned to me that more wattage is better as equals stronger light. I didn’t feel like getting any more lights or replacing my current bulbs. The lights are pretty close to the pots anyway so it doesn’t really bother me at this point. I’ve yet to try LED grow-lights for starting Sarracenia seeds. If anyone has any experience or feedback in that arena, I’d love to hear about it! (And I’d love a lower electricity bill too while we’re at it.)

Pot it up. Next, we get ready to pot those seeds up! I’ve had the seed stratified in cold stratification in their own media. I kept the container (photo, above left) in the fridge and now I’m ready to start potting each baggie up one by one. The contents of the bag will be placed into each pot. (Photo, above right.)

I open the bag up and just dump entire contents into the pot. Not sure if you’ve noticed that in the previous photos I’ve had the tags indicating the cross already pre made and in the bag. I use that to kind of scrape the seeds along with their stratification / germination media into the pot. After I get the seeds into the pot, I pat it down flat. (Photo below.) For me, I guess it helps to know that the seeds are packed in there somewhat firm. But not too firm. Just a happy medium type of firm. I don’t want seeds from one pot jumping off and landing in another pot. I don’t want no random freekin’ plant showing up in any other pots, yahknowwhaddImean?

Pat it down.

After the cold strat media containing the seeds is all nice and patted down in the pot, I insert the tag. It’s important and just very nice to keep things organized and labeled. In the photo to the left, the first cross I put in the pot was S. purpurea heterophylla x “Green Monster”. If you don’t know me there’s one thing I really love – and that’s anthocyanin free plants. I plan on breeding along these anthocyanin free lines quite a bit. The cross to the left I’m picturing a Sarracenia swaniana-ish looking anthocyanin free plant. Hopefully with more windows or something from the S. “Green Monster” parentage, but who knows what will come out of that pot. Pretty cool, eh? Time will tell. I’ll look back on this photo in a future blog post years from now and see where those plants all started.

After it’s all potted, patted down, and tagged up, my next step is spraying it down! I take a sprayer, set to mist, and give it a few squirts to make sure everything is in place spraying it down helps to clean it up a bit. I also wanted to mention that I’ll also spray off my gloves time to time – especially between seed sets to ensure no seed from the previous pot/pack hitchhikes into the next pot. Dude, that would suck and kind of drive me mad. Before starting on the next seed set, I make sure no visible media or seeds are on the gloves. I know it may seem like a lot of steps at this point, but for me, I like to err on being on the careful side. Am I a bit OCD? Is this me channeling a Virgo thing? Who knows. So anyway, after I finish with one pot I put it back into the tray, and start the process of unloading the seeds from the bag, into the pot, then into the tray 51 more times until I’m finally done. Again, for my growing I like to keep things clean so I periodically cleaned up my work area between the sets to ensure that no seeds from other bags jump to another pot. Yeah, it took a little bit of time, but was well worth it!

After that’s all said and done, gloves came off and I sprayed the seeds with a fine mist to clean things up again. Once everything was in there, the next step was to add water! Yeah!

In the photo to the left, I pour the water into the pot, and the water then drains into the rest of the tray. I’m currently using de-ionized water at a beautiful 0 ppm. I filled the tray with about two bucket fulls – or until the pots were sitting in about a half inch – inch of water. The sphagnum moss that lined the bottom of each pot prevents the peat mixture from leaking out and it also acts like a wick, absorbing the water and watering the pots that contain the next generation of Sarracenia awesomeness. Freekin’ rad! Yeah! After the tray is filled with water, my next step was to cover the tray with plastic!

Cover it up. As you can see, it’s now all coming together! For my cover, I just used regular painting tarp plastic from the hardware store – not greenhouse plastic which is more pricey. If you have greenhouse plastic I’m sure that would do the job too. Anyway, I cover the seeds to keep both humidity and heat in and create a “greenhouse effect” to get those seeds to germinate. In years past, I’ve used heat mats to help get those seeds germinating, but decided not to do it this year as I don’t know how effective it would be sitting under that big hydro tray. I figured that the lamps would emit enough heat to get it warm under the plastic.

Let there be light! In the photo above, I place my the lighting figures on top of the tray, held up by those 1 gallon black pots pots. The lights, as mentioned above, are on a timer and I just set it and forget it!

A peek under the hood. In the photo above, you can see what it looks like underneath the lights. I hope this makes the new babies happy! After turning the lights on, the gentle heat warms up the atmosphere under that plastic – waking the seeds up. Last year’s germination was pretty much a huge fail for me because we had a freak 80F+ day that baked a lot of the seeds before I was able to get home and uncover them… and I think the trichoderma that I used in that post did more harm that good. Who knows. The good thing is that a few of those crosses survived – less than half. Oh well. Shit happens. The important thing here (channeling my inner zen) is that I’ve learned quite a few things from that epic fail. With each “failure” in the garden and in life, take a step back and see what you can learn. Like… don’t fucking leave your seeds covered cuz a freak warm day could roll by and bake yo’ shit. (Had to vent. Sorry.)

ANYWAYYYYYY, I am pleased to say that the seeds I am germinating this year are all doing well and most have already sprouted and are showing vigorous signs of life!

IMPORTANT TIP: DON’T PEEK! Almost any grower out there will tell you that watching the seeds for days on end (like I was in photo above) will cause your seeds to grow at a much slower rate. I don’t know why this is the case. They must be shy or somefin’. It must be some gardening universal law – but please heed my warning and don’t try to watch the seeds sprout. I sat there for days on end and the only thing that grew was my gnarly beard while watching the seeds as nothing happened. The moment I walked away, the magic happend as described in this post… yeah!

So there’s how I set my seeds up this year. I hope this is helpful for you and feel free to use this post as a rough guide for your own seed Sarracenia germinating awesomeness. Happy growing and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if you have anything you’d like to share with me by commenting below or email me directly at Sarraceniadude [ at ] thepitcherplantproject.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

Sarracenia purpurea ssp. purpurea AF x "Green Monster"Sarracenia purpurea heterophylla x “Green Monster”
26 May 2012 

Last but not least – a huge and special thank you to my awesome wife Dahlia for her help in potting these babies up and photographing the new crop set up! (Not to mention her patience in putting up with me and das beard as I sat there for days watching these seeds germinate… lol!) 🙂 Thanks babe, I love you!

Let’s grow!

Sarracenia Seed Stratification Satisfaction

FINALLY. I got around to getting this done!!!

As you know with all the changes this year, it’s set me back quite a bit on a few things, however I’m glad to finally get around to this project. Stratification! I had a very poor seed count from last year, and I believe this was due to the unusually warm January we had that caused many plants to start to form flower buds early.  Then in February, we had very cold weather, and plenty of hail.  I think that the stress by these weird weather fluctuation affected pollen viability, stigma receptiveness, and just overall seed count production.  Out of all the crosses I did, I only managed to get seeds from half of what I did. And within those crosses, there was a low seed count.

Envelopes (that are not really) full of Sarracenia seeds.  After harvesting this year, I stored the crosses in the fridge.  This helps keep the seed viable.

Left: Seed envelopes and pre-made plant labels.  I wrote the cross of each plant and stuck it in front of the respective seed pouch.

Right: Stratification pouches.  I don’t have the room really to do this the Mother- Nature-Way of laying the seed on the media and having them stratify naturally.  I also didn’t want to mess with damp paper towels (although that works as well!)  So, it’s basically just peat moss and sand.  In the bags are currently a dry mix.  When it comes time to plant, I just dump the mixture onto the potting media in their new pots and will let them grow from there.

Oh, what awesomeness will come from these seeds??  Next I dump the seeds into their stratification pouches.

Here the seeds are mixed with the dry stratification/planting media.  I insert the plant tag as well for proper ID of the cross. I repeat for every seed packet.

So after a while, it gets kinda messy… I just started throwing the bags all over the place.  This is what it looked like as I was going through and getting the seeds into the strat-pouches. At least I kept them in kind of one area!

Sarracenia need damp stratification – so my next step is dropping some water into the mix.  I tried something new this year ( I don’t know if this will make a difference) but I added a little bit of hydrogen peroxide to this water mixture. I’ve heard that it helps inhibit fungus…  figure might as well try it. 🙂

Stratification pack: done!

… and when all done, throw em  in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or longer, then plant!

Manifest Destiny

In  the spirit of all things new and pertaining to growth and expansion, I’d like to share a little bit of my recent expansion process.  Now, I know I’ve been talking a lot about seeds, seedlings, expansion, growth, and all that kinda stuff — but just bear with me.   The past couple weeks have really been quite a transition for me, so I guess some of that is rubbing off on these recent posts.

Manifest Destiny. I’m not talking about the 19th century mindset that the US was going to expand from coast to coast. Nah, I’m talking about all these flippin’ crosses that are now starting to germinate somewhere in my back yard. 120+ different crosses now starting.   The Sarracenia are spreading from one end of my yard to the other. Hah! 🙂

Back in February I wrote about my seed packing project and getting the seeds I harvested into cold stratification. Now I’m showing you how I get them out and get them started.

One thing I didn’t do back then was make labels… so that’s what I did first. I wrote all the crosses down for that particular seed batch on the envelope I had the seeds stored in.   That won’t do for potted plants, so I had to get some label action going on.

2011 Seed Expansion

So, guess what I did? As I was going through all the crosses, I wrote down all the crosses on a label and paired up with said same cross on envelope. Easier said than done.   ESPECIALLY with the complex crosses.

2011 Seed Expansion

I do this just to be organized. I am sure to stick the label in each pot that the particular cross is going into.   After all, ya gotta know what is in each pot one way or another, right?

I began to fill pots up with media to plant the seeds in. What I do is prepare the mix using peat/sand and fill each pot that I will be using for germination up to the top like in the photo below.

2011 Seed Expansion

I then pull the seed batch out of the respective envelope.   Be sure to check out what was going on in February as I go over how I get things in the bag. It’s basically the way I was doing cold stratification as my space is limited.

Inside that envelope are the seeds, and damp peat/sand mix that’s been in the fridge for a while.  As you can see, I had the cross labeled on the little envelope and the bag fit perfectly inside.  This cross in the example below is an S. ‘Alucard’ x leucophylla, anthocyanin free.  The progeny of this cross will not be AF, statistically speaking; however when these seedlings are of flowering maturity and I cross with another anthocyanin free plant – the resulting offspring should partially be anthocyanin free.  Genetics, always interesting, yes?

2011 Seed Expansion

To make it easy to unload, I split open the seam of the bag along one side, exposing the media + seed mix.

2011 Seed Expansion

I then flip it over and the whole thing falls into the pot very easily, and cleanly.

2011 Seed Expansion

I spread it around a bit, pat it down, then I insert the tag that has the proper ID.

2011 Seed Expansion

…and then repeat for 120 times.

2011 Seed Expansion

As you can see in the photo above, I am using two large mixing tubs as a place to keep the freshly sown seeds in the pots. I fill the black mixing tub with about 1/2 inch of water. There’s another small container with a few more pots outside of this shot — but just wanted to show you a small photo so y’all get the gist of what the heck I was doing.

A friend of mine suggested to use trichoderma to prevent fungus problems. It’s a beneficial fungus that fights the bad fungus. Fight fire with fire, and fungi with fungi. So that’s what I did.

I ordered tablets from http://www.growmorerice.com. No, this is NOT a paid ad on my blog. I’m just lettin’ y’all know where I got this stuff, and how this will turn out with the seeds/seedlings. It’s my first time trying this so this is totally an experiment for me. I’ll continue to document my progress here. I actually have been using this stuff on my Sarracenia starting only a few months ago, and so far so good!  I haven’t had any major rot issues either. Maybe one or two plants, but that’s a lot less than what I would normally be seeing.

2011 Seed Expansion

So in that envelope is a tablet you drop into the water, and after a few minutes, it’s all mixed up for ya.  I dropped the stuff into the sprayer tank, gave it some time, and let it dissolve.

2011 Seed Expansion

I’ve sprayed this mixture at the base of my mature/adult plants this year with no bad side effects.  Let’s see how the seeds/seedlings react and if it really does help with rooting/fungus protection.

2011 Seed Expansion

Below is another shot of the “germination chamber” with all the seeds freshly sown.

2011 Seed Expansion

Next, I added a few support posts. Basically some tubes inserted into slots on the makeshift table, and I held together with left over bonsai wire. Yeah, ghetto. I know.

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Since I am *not* starting these seeds in a terrarium or a greenhouse like I normally would, I made my own germination chamber outdoors.  Since I am doing all this outdoors, and I’ll have to protect the seeds from things like rain, wind, and other critters that could dig up the seeds and move them around. That would be pretty tragic.

After I get the support posts up, I cover the entire thing with two layers of thick plastic that I obtained at my local hardware store.  The additional air layer in between the two sheets serves as insulation.  Then to secure the whole thing, I use bungee cords. I also used a couple bricks to weigh down the plastic.

It isn’t greenhouse plastic and this stuff will eventually break down due to the suns UV rays.  It’s good for about an entire season. Before it starts to break down, I’ll recycle it and if need be, throw another type of protective covering on it later on.

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It actually started to rain the day I finished this project up, and I’m glad I was able to get the plastic on or else I would of ended up with those seeds all over the place.  Below is a shot of the germination chamber.  As you’ve read in the last couple of posts, it is working and the seeds are slowly starting to germinate.

2011 Seed Expansion

Another Sarracenia generation and new era of botanical expansion over here. I can’t wait to see what some of these will look like in the next few years.  But for now, I’ll sit back and enjoy the journey as it unfolds. Out of those few seeds, I hope will come some freekin’ awesome stuff!