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
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

Native plants suitable for rock garden in New York
March 26, 2006 - I'd like to start a rock garden. The area is very rocky, the soil is shallow and it's partially shaded. I'd like mostly perennials that flower from spring to fall. I hope to make some purchases fr...
view the full question and answer

What are the grey-green plants on oak trees in San Marcos, TX?
March 12, 2011 - The oak trees in the neighborhood in San Marcos, TX, are covered with clumps, or balls, of gray/green fluffy-looking plants. they remind me of bromeliads. You can pull and knock them off; after wind ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in West Union IA
June 22, 2010 - Erosion control and native grasses/plants for steep, shady slope in northeast Iowa. We are building a house in northeast Iowa (near West Union in Fayette County). The road that was graded to the ho...
view the full question and answer

Plant that can move from outside to inside for Denton, TX
December 14, 2008 - I am looking for a plant that is either native to Texas or is well acclimated to the Denton TX area that can move from a covered outside area to an adjacent indoor area behind large glass walls, to a ...
view the full question and answer

Source for chile pequin plants in Austin
June 11, 2013 - Where can I buy chile pequin plants in Austin? Thank you,
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