Sowing Shade Garden Seeds

Last week I put together a couple flats of shade garden plants that I’m attempting to grow from seed.  I’ve had pretty good success before with my heucheras and thought I would give a few other shade plants a try!  A couple years ago I intended (but never got around to) to begin sowing shade garden plants and began saving seeds for coleus, hostas, and heucheras.  I saved the seed in baby food jars (we have plenty of them around) in the refrigerator.  I even labeled the jars with the year I gathered them so I know that they were harvested in 2010. Seeds stored in the refrigerator can remain viable for several years so my odds are good at getting some sort of germination!

I sowed four types of seeds: coleus, hosta, heuchera, and hellebore. My hellebores (Lenten Rose) surprised me the other day with a ton of seeds. I researched and read where they like a period of warm weather followed by cold weather and may need stratification to germinate.  I also read where seeds sown fresh may germinate.  Being hasty I decided I’d chance some of the seeds by sowing them fresh.  So far none have germinated but I’ll let you know when or if they do.

The coleus seeds I saved had a reddish colored leaf that I bought each year and planted in our shade garden.  I haven’t been able to find the same variety this year so I’m hoping that what I get from the seed I collected comes fairly true to type.  They should look like the picture on the right when grown but could vary quite a bit. If I had found just one coleus like it I could have easily propagated more though cuttings which probably would have been much faster but unfortunately I couldn’t find what I wanted so I’ll just improvise.  Improvisation is always fun!

I’ve grown heuchera from seed before and it’s pretty easy.  I usually just sprinkle the very tiny seeds on the soil surface and water. Don’t cover with soil. Then you wait.  Keep them watered and wait some more.  They could take a couple weeks to germinate.  If they don’t you wait some more!  Heucheras don’t come true to type (usually) but I really don’t want them to.  I’d would love to see the neatest heuchera ever developed grown in my backyard – wouldn’t you? 😉  There’s no germination yet so I’m waiting and checking daily in anticipation!

The hostas have germinated.  Or maybe I should say the hosta has germinated!  So far I only have one but they couple take a couple weeks to all germinate and there’s no guarantee that I’ll get more than one hosta from this batch.  I’m planning on saving seed this year as long as the deer don’t eat my hosta flowers!  I may even try to hybridize a couple.  I’ve been wondering what a cross between a ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta and a ‘Ginkgo Craig’ hosta would look like!  Hosta offspring vary greatly in their appearance.  We’ll see what grows if the flowers develop (and aren’t eaten)!

Have you grown any of these plants from seed before?

One Reply to “Sowing Shade Garden Seeds”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Dave….I enjoy reading your blog and am a novice gardener sowing seeds for the first time this year. I just saw that my coleus seeds have popped up at about 8 days in some seedling trays. I was surprised how tiny the seeds were. It's fun for me to watch the seedlings come up then try and find a home for my new babies. I'm wearing out my shovel this year.!
    Anyway thanks for doing what you do!
    Cheers, Michael in GA

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