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Mr. Smarty Plants - Problems with propagation of Indian Paintbrush (Castileja indivisa)

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Tuesday - February 07, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Other
Topic: Transplants, Wildflowers
Title: Problems with propagation of Indian Paintbrush (Castileja indivisa)
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are growing Indian Paintbrush. I have 2-300 seedlings. They were sown with fescue and have grown beautifully. Now they are approximately 4-6 inches high, a few have bloomed and many seem to be dying out. Can you share any information on keeping them growing and healthy until spring when they can go outside. They are in a 30% pearlite mixture. How do I keep them growing and go about transplanting them without losing them. It is sad to have lost any after all this time.

ANSWER:

The paintbrushes Castilleja sp. have been called "harder to establish than any other wildflower" by Howard Garrett, (Plants for Texas) and impossible to transplant by Sally & Andy Wasowski, (Native Texas Plants). Since it is believed that the paintbrushes parasitize the roots of grasses and other plants (e.g., bluebonnets), you have done the correct thing by sowing your seeds with fescue. There are several possibilities for your problem with the paintbrushes but I don't think we can give a definitive answer as to which of these it might be. The possibilities are: water stress, both too little or too much—or too little and too much; soil-borne disease or insect predation; soil pH issues; or simple dormancy could be occurring.

 

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