En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Friday - June 03, 2011

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: germinating Gulf coast penstemon and purple coneflower
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I'm interested in propagating gulf coast penstemon (penstemon tenuis) from seed. Do I have to mascerate the 'berries' to remove the pulp from the seed, and do I have to stratify the seed to get the seed to germinate? In other words is a cold treatment such as stratification or overwintering necessary for germination. I'm also wondering what light regime works best-do they need light or darkness to germinate? If they need light would simple direct sowing by hand broadcasting work; and if they need darkness how deep should I sow the seed. Finally, can I get the seed to germinate this year before the winter sets in so I'll have a jump on next season? I also have another question about purple prairie cone flower (echinacea purpurea). In 'Native Texas Plants' the Wasowskis state that the centers hold their color and shape for a long time after the petals drop as the seed ripen. How long is necessary for the seed to ripen, how do you tell when the seeds are ripe, and is this process seen in other plants? I look forward to your responses.

ANSWER:

You should be able to get good results with your efforts to germinate Penstemon tenuis (Brazos penstemon) , commonly known as Gulf Coast Penstemon.  This penstemon is known to reseed freely.  However, like most penstemon species, it benefits from a cold treatment.  (Sow under thin cover 3 wks @ 40ºF (4ºC) ) is the recommendation of an authoritative web site by Jim Swayne.  I suggest that you wait until the seed pods dry and just begin to open (it shouldn't take long), then stratify if you hope to get germination the same season.  No light is required.

With respect to Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower), I think you should wait until the centers begin to turn dark and feel dry to the touch.  Depending on the weather this should take a few weeks after the blooms fully open. The seeds should have reached maximum size by that time. Recipes for harvesting the seeds and germinating them are described in the attached article.

 

From the Image Gallery


Brazos penstemon
Penstemon tenuis

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

More Propagation Questions

Adding Wildflowers to Corpus Christi
May 20, 2012 - I have a dry sandy yard, full sun in Corpus Christi with lot's of stickers mostly, want to transform to wildflowers. When should I plant, how should I prepare soil, should I dig out stickers? Which w...
view the full question and answer

Seed propagation for Goldeneye Sunflower for Austin
October 30, 2010 - I have been unable to find Golden Eye seed, and am therefore thinking about harvesting seed from existing plants. My question is: At what stage of the development do I make the harvest of fully develo...
view the full question and answer

At what age does Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) begin to flower in Pflugerville, TX?
January 13, 2011 - At what age does a female possumhaw (Ilex decidua) usually bloom and set fruit? Or is there a way to identify the female other than by the presence of berries? I grew a number from seed and want to ...
view the full question and answer

Can I Grow Beautyberry
December 30, 2011 - Will try to be brief. Beautyberry sprouted leaves in vase of branches in water. It's NYC beginning of winter. Can I plant it outside? If not will it grow in a pot inside? Thanks. Happy New Ye...
view the full question and answer

Germinating Hibiscus martianus, Heartleaf hibiscus
June 11, 2013 - Is there some secret to getting Heart Leaf Hibiscus to germinate from seed? I have tried several times, but have had no luck getting them to germinate.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center