seeds

Growing from Seed: Questions and Answers with Cindy Hazuka, Seed and Bulb Coordinator, CNPS-SD

How did you get started with California native seeds and bulbs?

The simple answer is that I heeded the call! In late 2015 there was a blurb in the CNPS-SD newsletter that predecessor Amy Huie was ready to pass on the torch for managing the seed and bulb sales.  Without ever working with the group I decided to volunteer and step up to the challenge.  This was easy to do as there was an amazing base of volunteers involved who helped me learn the ropes.

The background to this decision is that I have been involved in California native plants since the early 1990s, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides being self-taught, I volunteered for years at a California native plant demonstration garden called Native Hill at Foothill College run by the CNPS-Santa Clara Valley chapter.  Then when I found myself in homes with yards I could work in, I focused on natives & edibles. My interest in seeds stemmed primarily from by bank account. It was too expensive for me as a student to buy plants, but I could start hundreds of plants for a fraction of the cost and my love of germinating was born. My family left our home, with over 100 different native plants, to live in San Diego in 2012. The move was going to be temporary but when we decided we were going to stay in the area I decided to get involved in the San Diego chapter by doing the seed sales.

Annual Wildflower Tests Challenge Conventional Wisdom

Annual Wildflower Tests Challenge Conventional Wisdom

By Lee Gordon, CNPS-San Diego Propagation Committee, from CNPS Blog 

Conventional wisdom says that the best time to sow annual wildflower seeds is in the fall, just before the rains, and that seeds should be covered with a thin layer of soil to protect them from predation. This conventional wisdom may be wrong. Tests in Scripps Ranch and Poway (San Diego County) suggest that it is better to sow wildflower seeds months in advance of the fall rain, and that covering seeds may actually prevent them from germinating.

The Beauty and Wonder of Seeds

By Michael Wall, mynativeplants.net

The latter part of my working career, maybe the best part, was curating the extensive seed collections at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. My favorite activity? Opening up newly arrived 'packages' of seed. To me this was like being a little boy again on Christmas morning. These seed packages, other wise known as fruits, to the inquisitive reveal a thrilling diversity of nature. Often the seed packages themselves were the focus of my wonder and discovery. Most all seeds however are terribly small and while I could enjoy their tiny beauty through my dissecting scope they were often pretty much invisible or nondescript to the unaided human eye. With whom could I share this joy and exciting adventure I was on?

Fortunately I had the exceptionally good fortune of having a volunteer who, in addition to being a superguy, is also a talented photographer. During his time working with me John Macdonald developed photographic techniques and software skills which allowed him to capture and produce superb images of the seeds in the Garden's collection. I am happy to share here a small sampling of the fabulous images John has created. Each image can be opened on its own for closer viewing.  John also maintains his own website where you can view the many thousands of images in his collection at: www.hazmac.biz/seedphotoslistgenus.html 


John's photography and data base work is truly remarkable and a gift for generations to come.
If you are interested in exploring the beauty and diversity of California native plant seeds or need an image of native seeds, this is the place. 

Click on image below to bring up article and individual plant links.

Creating a native wildflower meadow

By Greg Rubin, CNPS-San Diego Garden Native Committee member

Article reposted from California Native Plant Society Blog

Few things evoke magical memories like spring wildflowers. Whether it is a desire to recapture a serendipitous discovery of a color-laden flower field from our past, or simply re-living that scene from the “Wizard of Oz”, nothing stirs our passion for nature like a beautiful field of flowers. California was once celebrated for its annual floral shows; unfortunately, these delightful events are becoming a thing of the past.  The great Kate Sessions lamented that wildflowers were disappearing from San Diego’s foothills by the early 1900s. Even her attempts to include wildflower displays at Balboa Park repeatedly failed. Why?

The answer is that European settlement in California altered our delicate ecology so profoundly that it was lost at all levels. Nothing is quite so fragile as a wildflower meadow. These annuals serve as pioneers that help re-establish ecology should a disturbance wipe out climax shrubs and trees. Being so low in lignin, they disappear after dying, returning all of their nutrients back to the ecology. Additionally, they fill holes not occupied by shrubby plants, and persist in places inhospitable to anything with deep roots, such as in the shallow soils of true native grasslands. What the Europeans brought were non-native weeds: competitive plants unhindered by native bio-controls while putting all of their life energy into reproducing themselves.  These non-native seed banks now reach 10-100,000 dormant seeds per cubic foot! The wildflowers never stood a chance.

Seed was spread to create overlapping drifts of color, which is essential to maintain drama in such a large planting of wildflowers. Photo by Greg Rubin.

Fortunately, knowledge is the best tool, and we have ways to turn back the clock. Eliminating weeds is foremost. It is usually not sufficient to clear a space and drop seed, as Ms. Sessions learned. Instead, the seed bank must be addressed, either through repeated watering and killing of emerged weeds, or the use of chemicals called pre-emergents that kill seed in the soil when watered in. This must be done months in advance of planting. Solarization with clear plastic can also be used, but the effect is usually temporary. After treatment, seeds can be spread and either gently raked in or covered lightly in decomposed granite (this avoids disturbance and deters birds). Wildflower seeds can be purchased at most garden centers and online; however, be sure that the word “NATIVE” is somewhere in the title, and that the species are native to your locale, or you will end up with a mix of weedy introduced flowers, the worst being Alyssum. (ED note: You can check the local appropriateness of your chosen seed mix ingredients by entering your address in CNPS’s Calscape app, available at calscape.org or on CNPS’s homepage.) Common native mixes include California Poppies, Lupines, Goldfields, Desert Bluebells, Gilia, Baby Blue Eyes, Tidy Tips, and Farewell-to-Spring. You can add Owls Clover, Five Spot, and Thistle Sage if available. Keep the plot lightly moist until germination, continue watering twice a week if rainfall is lacking, and CONTROL WEEDS! The outcome will be thrilling!

CNPS Member Greg Rubin is the founder and owner of California’s Own Landscape Design, Inc. (www.calown.com) and a popular speaker. A specialist in the use of native plants in the landscape, he is responsible for over 700 native landscapes in San Diego County and co-authored (with Lucy Warren) two books on native landscaping: The California Native Landscape: the Homeowner’s Design Guide to Restoring its Beauty and Balance and The Drought Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants for a Lush, Low-water Landscape, both on Timber Press.