En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Failure to bloom of one of two Texas persimmons from Wimberly TX
May 04, 2013 - Last year my son planted two texas persimmon trees. One is blooming ok this year and the other is not. It does not seem dead. What can I do or is is in fact dying?
view the full question and answer

Source for dotted blue-eyed grass from Saluda SC
February 23, 2013 - I lived in Texas for several years and now live on acreage in South Carolina. I have heard that bluebonnets don't grow well in South Carolina. However, there is a place by the road near our house t...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas mountain laurel in a pot
March 07, 2016 - I have a really good friend who Mom pass away just recently and they were the best of friends. She loved her mother dearly and did tons of stuff together. Recently I posted a picture of a Mountain L...
view the full question and answer

Germination and propagation of bluebonnets
April 25, 2005 - I live in Austin. Last fall I spread a load of dirt on my lawn to provide soil contact for the 2 pounds of bluebonnet seeds I subsequently spread (this was in early November). The germination rate a...
view the full question and answer

Accurate bloom time for Mistflower from Spring TX
July 25, 2012 - Regarding Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum): Your site lists July to November as blooming time, while Wildflowers of Texas (Agilvsgi, Shearer Publishing, 2003) and Native Texas Plants (Wasowski, Lo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center