the Growing Our Own Project: September/October Update

The Growing Our Own Project exhibit has fully shifted from growing to collecting seeds and storing them until we can stratify for planting in the Spring. In our collection we have:

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Common Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Beardtounge (Penstemon sp.)

Phlox - Tall, Pink (Phlox sp.)

Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)

Illinois Bundle Flower (Desmanthus illinoensis)

Beebalm - Blue (Monarda sp.)

We have also started some stratification efforts, especially with seed species that must remain moist in order to germinate. We have placed these seeds in plastic bags with lightly damp (not wet!) soil and placed them in an out of the way place in the fridge. We labeled these with their common and scientific names, the date and place of harvest, the date of when they were put in the fridge and the date when they can be planted.

During this time, we also recommend researching and creating a spreadsheet of the plants you've gathered. In our document we included the common and scientific names, the date and site of harvest, the stratification method, and the number of days for stratification. We set a goal to have most of the seeds planted my mid-March. From there we worked backwards, using the days of stratification, to figure out the date when the seeds should go from their paper bags to their cold and moist homes.

For example, Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) needs cold/moist stratification for at least 35 days before it is planted. If we are shooting for a plant date of March 15th, then we should prepare Cardinal Flower by January 10th. For now, we only have Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and Illinois Bundle Flower (Desmanthus illinoensis) in the fridge, as they need to be kept moist and can not dry out.

In other growing news, our little crop of Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is going well. We've had them continually sprouting since August and some are even growing their secondary leaves. We will soon pot them up in our plug trays and nurture them through the winter in our display at McConnell Springs.

Come see this evolving exhibit at McConnell Springs Park. Open Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and on Sundays from 1-5pm


stratification - mimicking conditions seeds would find in the wild, and therefore triggering the germination process, cold stratification is a period of cold and moist exposure seeds are subjected to. If planted before this process, seeds won't break dormancy.

dormancy - a self-protective measure the ensures seeds sprout at the right time. Certain biological triggers, such as freeze or fire, cause seeds to "break"dormancy and triggers germination during ideal conditions. This prevent seeds from germinating during winter or in very shady conditions.

germination - the growth of a plant from seed