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Monday - May 19, 2008

From: Cohasset, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Gaillardia suavis and salvia penstemonoides propagation
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, if that is your real name, How long, if at all, will I need to stratify my gaillardia suavis and salvia penstemonoides seeds to have them come up this summer?


Okay, Mr. Smarty Plants isn't our real name, but neither is it Merlin the Magician. We will be happy to try to provide you with the propagation instructions for Gaillardia suavis (perfumeballs) and Salvia penstemonoides (big red sage) but we have no idea if there is any way to make them come up this summer, especially in Massachusetts.

First, the Gaillardia suavis (perfumeballs). From this Flora of North America website, we found that this Gaillardia is found naturally only in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Mexico. It blooms March to June, and the seeds should be harvested in June. We found no references to stratification techniques for this plant. We also learned that it is a perennial that comes back up every Spring from roots, but if propagated from seed will not bloom until the second Spring. In the Southwest, we plant seeds in the Fall, ordinarily, so they won't come up too soon and the young plants be blistered in our hot sun. The best we can figure, you are in Zone 6 of the USDA Hardiness Zone, which would mean you would need to plant them in the Spring, after the danger of freezing the emerging plants is past.

Salvia penstemonoides (big red sage) is endemic to the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas. It was once thought extinct, but seeds are now available in a few native seed catalogs and it apparently grows easily from seed. In addition to the Wildflower Center webpage, here is information from the Missouri Botanical Garden on this plant. Obviously, they're talking about plants in Missouri, but they indicate that St. Louis might be almost too far north for big red sage to survive. Again, no information on seed treatment to force them to grow when they're not ready.

We apologize if we couldn't find the exact information you wanted. If you already have seeds, there is certainly no reason why you couldn't experiment, perhaps planting some seeds in small pots and creating a mini-greenhouse to get them started. If you need to order seed, notice that there is a weblink to Native American Seed under "Find Seed" near the bottom of the individual plant website pages. Also, you might check with the books listed below under "Bibliography" for more detailed information. Honestly, we think that patience is the best policy here-get your seeds, find out the best time of year to plant them where you are, and see if they can survive in Massachusetts weather.

Gaillardia suavis

Gaillardia suavis

Salvia penstemonoides

Salvia penstemonoides





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