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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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Sunday - June 05, 2005

From: Danville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Desmanthus and Chamaecrista seeds
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello my wildflower specialist friend. I got 20 Desmanthus illinoensis and also Chamaecrista fasciculata seeds. Then I planted them in early March, when there was still frost, in clayish soil, not far from woods where they'll get 2/3 of a day of full sunlight. However, now it is the middle of May and they haven't come up at all. Do you think something is wrong? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Desmanthus and Chamaecrista seeds have extraordinarily hard seed coats. The characteristics of their seed coats are adapations that help ensure the survival of the species through climatic extremes. You will probably see only a few if any seeds germinate the first year -- even with some scarification. You are likely to see more germination next year and even later. Plants produce many, many seeds to help ensure their survival. Most seeds simply don't survive to make mature plants. Any number of diseases, microorganisms and insects feed on plant seeds and seedlings. There are just many things that can go wrong during a seeds journey to maturity. It is possible that some or all of your seeds have been victims of predation or some other malady. Having painted a rather dark picture, I will say that both of the species you are trying to grow can be spectacularly successful when conditions are right. If you have placed your seeds in a good growing environment for them and the seeds are viable, you are likely to be rewarded for your efforts.
 

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