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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Planting times and sun for native plants from Austin
October 06, 2013 - When to plant Phacelia congesta seeds? Can Maximilian sunflowers tolerate partial shade?
view the full question and answer

Need a good plant for Clayton, NC.
August 23, 2012 - What would be a good plant for Clayton,NC for this time of year. I would like for it to come back every year so I don't have to replant. I have several full sun areas that I need to cover in the fron...
view the full question and answer

When should salvia greggii be pruned from Austin
December 12, 2013 - Should salvia greggii be pruned in fall/winter? I thought I read onsite that all woody perennials should be left untouched or pruned to 6 inches. Does this apply to salvia greggii?
view the full question and answer

Pink wildflowers on DFW runways in April-June
October 10, 2013 - I fly thru DFW quite often and have noticed in April-June timeframe the runways are dotted with a light pink colored wildflower. Have asked the DFW Customer Service folks for the name, ones I've ask...
view the full question and answer

Need perennials for front beds in south-facing house ib San Angelo, TX.
February 12, 2012 - What perennials will work in my front beds of southern facing house in West Texas?
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