Thursday, July 3, 2008


I transplanted the Ficus religiosa seedlings a couple weeks ago, because they seemed potentially kind of crowded, and also because the flood was approaching and I didn't want to leave them all at work to die: I figured I could take a couple home to keep and hedge our collective bets. But then I wound up taking them all home anyway, when I was told the water was going to be four feet high in the greenhouses.

It was all too soon. Immature roots being disturbed, plus a change in environment, and now we're down from ten seedlings to four. And, frankly, I don't like the looks of the four, either.

Growing plants from seed, it would seem, is stupid. Mostly they don't sprout, and when they do sprout they don't grow. Presumably if they both sprout and grow, they end up looking like crap and you're still better off to buy them fully-grown from a grower.

I'm not saying I've given up on the seeds I have, and the Echinopsis seedlings, the four that came up, are still technically among the living. But the Great Annual Seed Project, or GASP, isn't going to be annual. I'm not doing this again. Not with my own money, anyway.


sheila said...

I'm sorry your project didn't work out. I haven't tried growing houseplants from seeds in a long, long time. I did some cactus and african violets when I was a kid, they mostly worked out OK, although the cactus eventually petered out.

But I have grown lots of annuals and perennials for seed to move outdoors. I think the secret for most of them is really good light (I use growlights) and really even watering (I have good success with special capillary matting setups).

It is time consuming, and expensive to buy all the equipment. If you just want a couple of plants, it's easier and cheaper to just buy them and be done with it.

But it can be rewarding if you have the inclination and the time and patience.

I didn't even try to start anything from seed this year - no time to deal with it. It's a good thing too, because I wouldn't have had time to take care of even one more plant right now!

Karen715 said...

Despite the fact that I have had some successes growing house plants from seed--including a large and thriving Monstera deliciosa, of which I am inordinately proud--I agree with you. For every one success I have had with growing houseplants from seed, I have had what may be approaching a hundred failures. I am so done!

Water Roots said...

Yup, I'm with the 'sometimes-it's better-to-buy' idea. I started a whole bunch of coleus plants from seed, and although the seedlings are still hanging on, they're not really doing anything. They're just there...not dying but not really in much of a hurry to grow. I think it would have been better to have bought a whole bunch of these plants when they first arrived at the greenhouses as annuals. Now they're all gone and who knows what will happen with the tiny little ones struggling to grow in my home. Sure it's a fun project, but it's sloooooow as molasses; I don't have that much patience... Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder about the quality of the growing medium - particularly if it's commercially produced.

There are things I've cossetted amazingly and they end up as miserable little items. There are things I've found on the compost heap, failed to sprout seeds in a pocket of lush humus and grit, and the roots would circle the world (well, sort of).

And, if I do the great no-no of adding soil/humus/sharp grit then many of my teeter-on-the-brink things will put on a useful spurt. Perhaps more potion-mixing instead of reaching for the packet, is the conclusion I reached. ;-)

(Responding to the bit about immature roots.)

Am said...

I have to agree about the seed part. Growing from seeds really is a little too much trouble. Unless you want the pleasure of seeing it sprout and knowing that you raised it from seed, it isn't that worth the time and effort. Besides, buying them grown you can tell whether the plant has good genes or not. With seeds you really don't know what kind of quality plant you'll get.

Paul said...

"It depends" is the best I can say. There are some plants that are so expensive or of which good specimens are hard to find -- for these, seeds can be the best way to go. For other plants, either because they are easy to find or can be purchased inexpensively, it can be far better to just buy one.

I do think that anonymous is on to something as well. The quality of the commercially prepared soils could very well be a big part of the problem.

am-y said...

On the topic of soil - I repotted some of my plants in some all-purpose commercial potting mix, and the next day, all of them were infested with tiny white mites which were in the soil and were feeding on the roots. I still have no idea what the mites are, but 2 of plants have already died. I should sue!