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

Rooting desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) from a cutting
May 12, 2009 - I found a desert willow with great bloom color and I am trying to root a cutting. I have never tried to root a cutting but I have read that desert willow is easy to root. My first attempt was in a vas...
view the full question and answer

When to plant bluebonnet seed
October 16, 2007 - When do I put out Bluebonnet seed? Do I soak them first? Thank You.
view the full question and answer

No berries on dogwoods in GA
November 18, 2010 - I have 4 native dogwood trees. I have owned the property for 4 years. They have never produced berries. Can you tell me why? are the trees male and female, and could I have all males?
view the full question and answer

How does Graptopetalum filiferum produce seeds?
June 22, 2009 - Hi I have a Graptopetalum filiferum. I found a seed on top of one of the plants and it resembles something like a cantelope melon seed-about 1/3" long, orange. Do these succulents produce seeds i...
view the full question and answer

Time to plant echinacea seeds in Austin
March 28, 2010 - When should I plant echinacea seeds in Austin?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center