Friday, March 26, 2010

Pot Culture

I don’t know what the title meant to you, but I’m referring to the growing of plants in pots. Growing plants in pots is an ideal way to learn about their various growth phases and changing appearance as they age. This is a pot full of Potato Dandelion, Krigia dandelion, one of the rarities here at Blue Jay Barrens. My first blog post was about the flowering stage of the plant and last summer, I posted about collecting the tubers.

These plants began to emerge in December. Through the winter the leaves were short and round like those shown at the bottom of the photo. Lengthening daylight hours and warmer temperatures have prompted the production of longer, lobed leaves seen in the center of the photo. Growth will be very rapid for the next few weeks.

This is one of my barrens pots. The soil is primarily pulverized limestone bedrock that I created when I dug my water garden. It’s a pretty fair mimic of barren conditions.

This barrens pot is seeded with rare winter annuals. Here is Draba reptans. The Drabas have seeds that require a period of hot, dry weather followed by cool, damp weather before they will break dormancy and grow. The seeds of this plant mature in late spring and should be planted immediately. As a general rule, I’ve found that most wild seeds do best when planted at the same time of year you would normally find them falling to the ground in the wild.

This is Draba cuneifolia. It is another small plant that is very similar to Draba reptans when it begins to grow. Its mature size is several times larger than Draba reptans and the later leaves develop a tiny, pointed lobe on each side. You can just see that this plant is beginning to develop those lobes.

The problem with growing plants in pots is the fact that many respond too favorably to the slightly improved environment. This Leavenworthia uniflora has developed into an oversized monster compared to what grows in the wild. Wild plants are tiny and can barely manage a single flower stalk. This plant has massive leaves and a dozen flower stalks ready to shoot up from the center. This is nice if your goal is to produce seed that can be used to repopulate the plant into other areas.

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