I have more monster plants in store. After a few weeks of waiting, some Lobelia tupa seeds have begun to germinate. The seeds are very fresh, collected just hours before I set them up in their germination trays. Since this lobelia is native to seasonally chilly regions of South America, I was a little worried that they wouldn’t germinate without some sort of cold stratification. After exactly 14 days, I see a few little green leaves showing. Apparently it can germinate without stratification, but it remains to be seen exactly how many will germinate. I still have hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds, so I can do a little bit of experimentation in the refrigerator.
The parent plants that my seeds came from are large. Nearly as tall as I am, they are well over 5 feet, with leaves easily 5 or 6 inches wide near the base of the plant. I’m hoping that most of my seedlings will end up being as impressive! This plant has been very difficult for me to come by, and I’m pretty excited that I have a few now. I’m envisioning dozens of plants, each reaching incredible heights (for a lobelia, anyway) to bring those hummingbirds that find them so irresistible up to eye level. Wouldn’t that be great?
My life seems to revolve around seeds these days. I few months ago I picked up a few acacia seeds off the ground at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Springs, California. About a month ago I decided to give them a shot in the germination trays, and they did not disappoint. Every seed germinated within about 4 days, surprising me. One species, which I was able to identify as Acacia confusa, is growing quickly and have gotten me a little worried that I may run out of room for them. Their thorns are pleasant to look at, as are their pale green leaves, but I wonder how much room I will have over the winter when I will likely need to protect them from the rain. My neighbors have some really impressive and healthy Cordyline australis that are about 8 feet tall and live unprotected and completely exposed to the weather, so I’m not without hope that I can keep these acacias alive over the winter. The weather in southern California and western Washington is very different, however with a bit of careful planning I think I may able to make it work.
The other species of acacia is a mystery to me. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the seeds before I germinated them, and the advantage of identifying them from seeds is now lost. The seeds were very flat, about 1/2 inch (1cm) in diameter, light tan in color, and had a very distinctive “U” pattern in the center of the seed that was very dark brown in color. Honestly, it looked exactly like a smiley face emoji without the eyes. The seeds have germinated into some very interesting trees. They are very thorny, with short distances between leaf nodes, and have begun to swell at the base of the trunk. It seems like a strictly arid tree, and I am planning on keeping them inside the house below 40 degrees. I hope they do well in a pot.
While I was in Palm Springs, I naturally did a little bit of exploring. That included exploring the local nurseries. One nursery that I visited was nice enough to let me try my hand at collecting and germinating their cactus seeds. Mariscal Cactus & Succulents is a great nursery with lots of incredible plants, and quite a few cactus were in bloom and fruiting while I was there. I was only able to find a single fruit from their large selection of Cereus peruvianus, but luckily each “apple” contains quite a few seeds.
There are plenty of C peruvianus that have started to grow differently that I had anticipated. Some have grown like the classic double armed look that we all associate with the giant Saguaro. Many have become crested right off the bat. I wonder if they’ll continue to grow like that as they get larger. Time will tell. Maybe in another 3 months I’ll have cactus large enough to photograph properly, and then I can put the effort in to light them with little less pink/purple saturation. Then we can really look at the Cereus, Pilosocereus, Cleistocactus, Ferocactus and Agave species that I’ve got growing!