Ok…here we go. Blog numero uno. Since there’s an abundance of seed now about any where you look , and I am still hopelessly addicted to collecting seed, this seems like a logical place to start.
The kitchen table has ziplock bags, yogurt containers and a juice glass of various seeds. Most pockets have at least a few remnants of seeds or seed parts mixed in with the lint. There are more bags out in the potting shed. More in the refrigerator. There are pods of common milkweed rolling around in the truck. Why?
When I notice seed of choice natives I imagine every one growing up to be a fine specimen and making great contributions for us and the critters and making lots more babies spreading far and wide. I can help them reach their potential and so can you. With a little knowledge and a little time you will amaze yourself at how much ground you can cover, literally. So get started and above all enjoy every step and share what you enjoy.
Lets start with something easy. Buckeyes. It also happens to be “A” for Aesculus, so a sensible place to start. Those who have been to the nursery know I’m quite partial to buckeyes. The plants are dramatic, they are very useful for many wildlife species especially humming birds, and the seeds feel…kinda sexy? Really. Dare you to pick one up and not enjoy fondling it in your pocket for days.
Buckeyes: Bottlebrush Buckeye (in photo), Dwarf Red Buckeye, and all other Aesculus species produce large seeds, buckeyes, this time of year. They fall and are often planted immediately by rodents such as squirrels, and if left on moist soil will quickly send down a root. So, if you collect any buckeyes, be sure they are fresh. They should be plump and hard, not wrinkled and soft. They should be planted ASAP in either a container with a well drained mix, propagation bed, or in the garden. Do not store them in sealed containers over winter. Most will rot. Cover them after planting with something to keep the rodents out until a month or 2 after they sprout in the early spring. We use heavy perennial cloth and/or cover them in a cold frame. Hardware cloth would work well too. A covered coldframe works well to protect them from rodents after they sprout.
The red buckeye, A. pavia, has a taproot that quickly outgrows the average container. Bill Cullina mentions that he has trimmed as much as 1/3 of the taproot when transplanting young seedlings and they’ve done well.