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Mr. Smarty Plants - Starting desert willow from seeds

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Sunday - September 21, 2008

From: Sattler, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Starting desert willow from seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is it better to sow or start desert willow seeds in pots? If sowing is effective, is fall or spring the best time to sow in the Canyon Lake area of Central Texas?

ANSWER:

According to Jill Nokes in How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, although you can store seeds over the winter in the refrigerator to be planted in the spring, the seeds lose viability quickly so it is best to plant them indoors shortly after collecting them.  Here is what she says about planting the seeds:

"Soaking the seeds in water for a few hours prior to sowing may improve germination...Scatter the seed thinly in the flat or in individual containers, but do not bury.  Seeds need light to germinate...Seeds usually germinate within 1-3 weeks, and viability averages 40%."

She says that seedlings 4 inches long can be transplanted to one-gallon containers into a well-drained soil mix and grown in strong sunlight.  Apply small amounts of fertilizer regularly, but don't apply heavy fertilizer.  The plants can be transferred to the ground in the spring.


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