Free Flowers, Eventually

I got some seeds of peach-leaved bellflower, Campanula persicifolia, a few years back in a seed swap and have been meaning to start them ever since.

My Goal: Peach-leaved Bellflowers

I may as well take a few pictures while I do it and document my success, or its lack, if it comes to that.

For a seed tray, I used a plastic restaurant take-out container, the kind with a clear cover that snaps on.  The clear cover lets in light, which is reportedly needed for campanula seeds to germinate.  It also keeps the seeds very moist, which is a good thing since they sit right on top of the planting mix to get the light they need.  Without the cover, they could easily dry out and then no plants for me.  Once most of the seeds have germinated, the lid comes off immediately.  Seeds may love to be constantly soaked, but wet plants are known to be an invitation to a fungus party.

The seeds and tray went under fluorescent lights in my basement, where they stayed between 70 and 75 degrees F.  The seeds germinated surprisingly well, for being five years old, to the point that I had to thin the herd quite a bit, taking out at least half of them.

Today, 18 days after planting, it was time to prick them out of their seed tray, as British gardeners say, and put them into individual cells.  (American gardeners seem to avoid that particular phraseology.)  I had about forty seedlings, so I used a 48 cell tray, also known as a 1204.

Separating the Seedlings

To get the seedlings loose, I used a big pair of tweezers to stick into the soil and lift a small group of plants.  I could then just use my fingers to pull them apart into individual plants and stick the little guys into their new homes.

Finger pokes made the holes in the soil.

To bed, little guy.

A trickle of water in each cell helped settle the new soil around the roots, and back under the lights they went to recover and, with any luck at all, to grow up.  I’ll post back here from time to time with a photo and news from the Campanula family.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Update Photo:

Looking pretty good — 6/29/2012


When these got bigger, I gave some to my sister, who called back in a couple of days to tell me that the plants were primroses, not campanula. Someone in the seed swap got a little confused, I guess, but they’re still free flowers — just not what I needed or wanted. I stuck them in a little corner garden by my barn and we’ll enjoy them next spring.

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