Sunday, February 23, 2014

Plants 2013 - Barrens in a Pot

Most of my pot grown native plants were freed to live their lives in likely locations close to the house.  A few of the rarer collections were maintained.  This container mimics gravelly barrens conditions and houses a mix of winter annuals found naturally in the poor, dry soils of the barrens.  This plant community has successfully maintained itself for several years.

Leavenworthia uniflora has always been the star performer and 2013 was no exception.  The potted plants display a vigor far superior to that of the wild specimens.  I’ve learned a lot about these plants by having them in a situation that allows daily viewing, but I would still like to create a situation that more closely matches that experienced by the wild plants.

In March the Leavenworthia have created a tight cluster of flower buds in the center of the plant.  Wild plants typically develop three or fewer buds.

By April, a long stalk has pushed high above the leaves where a single four petalled flower blooms.

The flower is short lived and quickly gives way to a developing seed capsule.  This forest of stalks produces enough seed to repopulate the pot as well as for me to collect a good quantity which I return to the site at which I originally obtained seed for this project.

Also doing well in the pot is Draba cuneifolia.  The Draba is typically a little behind the Leavenworthia in development.  Buds are evident in early April.

Flowers open a week later.

Long stalks grow rapidly up through any competing vegetation so that the flowers are in the open and easily visited by small flies and bees.

Draba cuneifolia normally begins growth in early fall and overwinters as a tiny, few leaved plant tucked in close to the soil.  I was surprised in September 2013 when the Draba reached a growth stage equivalent to what is normally seen in early March.

By mid-January, after enduring long periods of sub-zero temperatures and weeks of snow cover the developmentally advanced plants were doing wonderfully.  These super plants were larger than any I had ever had in the pot.  The plant up against the pot wall to the far right is the one shown in the previous photo.  It has put on a lot of growth since September.

I’m not claiming to have produced a race of giants.  These individuals are well within the accepted size range for Draba cuneifolia.  I’m just pointing out that the wild grown Blue Jay Barrens representatives of this species do not come close to expressing their full genetic potential.  The wild plants remain small because that’s the best they can do under the conditions found in those areas in which they can survive.  Improvement in growing conditions would probably favor competing vegetation, so instead of the Drabas growing larger, they would probably be crowded out.

Here are the current conditions in the barrens pot.  Draba cuneifolia is presently the most developed species in the mix.  Leavenworthia uniflora is present in good numbers and there is a sprinkling of the diminutive Draba reptans.  It’ll be interesting to see how things progress this spring.


  1. Hi, it's so nice to see green things again. :) It's also nice to see you blogging again.

    Greetings from Port Canaveral. We will be heading back to Ohio in a couple of weeks.

    All the best,

  2. Hi Lois. I hope we're in to spring-like weather by the time you get home. Today's weather was snow showers with a promise of cold to come.