Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

What species of Aristolochia occur in Hidalgo County, TX?
August 06, 2009 - What species of Aristolochia or are in the Aristolochiaceae family occur in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, particularly Hidalgo Co., TX. Both Pipevine and Polydamas Swallowtail butterflies occur down h...
view the full question and answer

Identity of stinging weed in Pearl, Mississippi
March 20, 2016 - I live in Pearl, MS. Yesterday I pulled a weed that right away started stinging my hand and in a few hours turned into stinging numbness. The weed has dark green heart shaped leaves with purple veins ...
view the full question and answer

Invasive native blackeyed susans from Warren OH
August 07, 2013 - In our demo garden we master gardeners in NE Ohio have been unable to get rid of black-eyed susans which have, like the other person, prevented or "killed" the other perennial plants. They are spre...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Trinity, TX
March 23, 2013 - I need a list of deer resistant flowers, herbs and plants that would could be planted in Trinity, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Plants for narrow strip between sidewalk and fence
May 01, 2008 - I have a strip of land about 5 inches wide and 30 feet long -- between the fence and the sidewalk -- that I would like to plant something that would look nice and wouldn't require the weedeater every...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.