seed starting, scrophularia macrantha (redbirds in a tree)

Asked November 23, 2015, 11:56 AM EST

I collected some "red birds in a tree" seed this fall from a neighbor's plant and would like to start some seedlings this winter. I have a temperature controlled greenhouse and also have grow lights. Any suggestions on seed starting? Should I treat them as a penstemon and sow on the surface of the seed starter soil? Bury? (if so, how deep?

Arapahoe County Colorado

1 Response

Red-Birds-In-A-Tree is typically propagated from cuttings. However you can grow it from seed. You need to be very, very patient as it takes a long time to germinate. First of all, the seed needs a cold period, so put the seed in an unheated, garage, basement or in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks. Then spread it on the top of the soil and carefully water in. Place in a sunny area, it does need sun to germinate. Keep the medium moist and wait. The germination rate will depend on the viability of the seed as well as the other factors stated.

If you do not have any luck with germinating the seed, perhaps your neighbor would allow you to take some cuttings and propagate them. If so, then using seed starting mix or soilless mix, dip the cuttings in root hormone and making a small hole with a pencil or other tool, p[lace the cutting in the pot, 21/2 inch, would be best to begin with. When the roots reach the bottom of the pot, transfer to a 4 inch pot and then a bigger pot as the roots expand and the cuttings get larger.

Good luck.