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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.

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

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Tuesday - June 18, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Seeding success with Penstemon cobaea from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I've never had much luck in harvesting seeds from foxgloves (Penstemon cobaea, I think). Whenever I open the seed casing, the seeds inside are covered with some kind of mold. What's going on, and how can I prevent this? I live in Austin, but I originally collected the flowers in Marlin, Texas (near Waco), if that matters.

ANSWER:

From an article Penstemon Seed Germination Technology we extracted these lines of instruction on two sub-species of Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove).

"P. cobaea v. cobaea , Aurator , ( 5 ), Surface sow 8 wks @ 40ºF (4ºC), needs light for germ. , ( 12x? ), herbaceous , white, purple , plains
P. cobaea v. purpureus , Aurator , ( 5 ), Surface sow 8 wks @ 40ºF (4ºC), needs light for germ., move to 50ºF (10ºC) for germ. , ( 12x? ), herbaceous , white, purple , plains , yes"

From our own webpage on Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove):

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Easily raised from seed (blooms second year). Collect seed in summer when capsules are brown and seeds are black.
Seed Collection: Collect seed in summer when capsules are brown and seeds are black.
Seed Treatment: Germination is best with cold-moist stratification."

Since we had no clue what "cold-moist stratification" means (Hey, Mr. Smarty Plants isn't Einstein, you know!) we went hunting for an explanation and found this article from DA Trees on Cold Stratification Storage.

And, finally, from Alchemy-Works.com Making Winter for Seeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

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