These plants begin their growth in the late fall and flower in early spring. They grow as long as sunlight is available, but this year, frequent snowstorms kept the ground covered for most of the winter. When winter finally ended, the plants had developed to just a fraction of their normal size. Small plant size corresponds into a reduced seed crop. For a plant that dies following seed production, fewer seeds likely mean a reduced population size the following year. Several bad years in a row could eliminate a population.
Unlike their wild counterparts,
these plants displayed the best the species can produce. They proved an excellent example of how
slightly different growing conditions can make a big difference in results. The Leavenworthia uniflora shown here are as
robust as any I have ever seen.
secondary goal in raising the more rare species is to produce seed that can be
used to augment what is being produced naturally. The original seed for these plants came from
the barrens of Blue Jay Barrens. Extra
seed produced in containers is returned to the site of the wild
This is about an average yield for the
container grown plants. Those in the
barrens only produce four seeds at best.
The photo above illustrates a
typical day’s harvest, a total of about 40 fruits. I harvest the fruits just as they begin to
split and expose the seeds. I miss plenty,
so there are more than enough seeds left in the container for next season.
Leavenworthia seeds need a period of hot weather to allow them to break
dormancy and germinate in the fall, so it’s important to get them planted while
there is still plenty of summer yet to come.
I’ve also found that it’s best to plant seeds at the same time they
would naturally be dropping from the plant.
That way they are naturally going to get the treatment they need for
germination. Hopefully, the coming
winter will be more conducive to Leavenworthia growth and the barrens will
produce a record crop next year.
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