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Nov 7, 2015 3:53 PM CST
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Trying very hard to cure my black thumb I have always had. I live in California just 7 miles from the Arizona border. VERY hot summers and mild winters. I want to plant some California Bluebell seeds. First question, can they be started indoors in pots or should they be planted out doors?

The seeds are very tiny and all I know is someone told me to plant them 8 inches apart? I would be ever so grateful if someone would give me a little guidance.

Thank You,
Nov 7, 2015 5:21 PM CST
Name: Reine
Cleveland, Texas (Zone 9a)
On the 3rd day God created plants.
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Welcome! to ATP molly44 Welcome!

Try posting your question on the Ask Questions forum. It is second from the top on the forum list. Good growing Thumbs up

My plant knowledge doesn't cover this area Sighing! , but I'm sure someone can be a lot more help.
Nov 7, 2015 6:12 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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Hi Molly. Welcome to ATP! I hope someone with a clue ABOUT California Bluebell sees your post.

I didn't know, either, but I know that many perennials are more complicated to start from seed than most annuals.

I see two related plants in the database that might be your bluebells:

California Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia)


Californian Bluebell (Phacelia viscida 'Tropical Surf')

Sorry, only the first has a photo! And I never heard of the genus Phacelia. I wonder which forum would specialize in that?

@Chelle said this in the database about Desertbells (Phacelia campanularia):

Comment: w/sown 1-20-14, sprouts 5-7-14 batch #2 cool and dark, 4-4-14 (note changes in DB if found), pos. germ., 4-7, sown in one plastic, sprouted 4-9 batch#3 cool and dark 4-7, sprouts 4-10
Note: seeds will sprout in light or dark.

@SugiGirl might raise them form seed; she offers seeds as trades.

If one has no idea how to start a seed, but it's likely to have some kinds of dormancy, "wintersowing" is one guess for how to start it. And I see that's what Chelle did.

In a jug or plastic tray with clear lid, lay down some good seed-starting mix or coarse vermiculite, and moisten it.

Sprinkle seeds.

Often tiny seeds prefer to be on the surface and see some light while they decided whether to break dormancy. You might split the difference and cover them with a VERY THIN layer of medium vermiculite, so they still see the light but are barely covered, in case they want a little covering.

Now, the weird thing about wintersowing is that you seal the jug or tray so rain doesn't drown it, and it doesn't dry right out, then put that thing outdoors in mid-winter, in enough shade that a sunny day doesn't make it TOO warm!

The plastic keeps insects and slugs away. The clear lid gives it a little more warmth and uniform humidity. The natural day-night cycle and cold-and-warm-spells provide the natural "stratification" that breaks most forms of dormancy.

Come early spring, start watching for sprouts. You may have to prop the lid open for a week or two, but when the seedlings are 1-2 inches tall, either prick them out and transfer to 4" pots, or maybe plant them right out if the soil is warm enough. Some winter-sowers don;t prick out individual seedlings into pots, they plant entire CHUNKS of seedlings and let the strongest ones win.

But wintersowing might be more work than bluebells need. Even seeds needing cold-wet stratification CAN be started on coffee filters in baggies, in the fridge for a few weeks, then germinate as normal seeds. They call that the "Deno method", and it works even if you have a dog that would chew up any wintersowing jugs you put outside.

P.S. When wintersowing, consider that your jugs or trays might blow away.
If they are covered with snow for a few months, no problem. The wintersowing theory is that "seeds are used to that and know when to sprout". The plastic just gives them extra warmth and protction so they sprout ASAP and then are protected.
Nov 7, 2015 7:04 PM CST
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b, and F (Zone 9b)
I'm always on my way out the door..
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Hi Molly, Welcome! to ATP.

I started these on the soil surface. Tiny seeds usually need to be very close to the top to survive. You will need to keep them moist until they sprout. In your climate you may be able to scatter seed on an outdoor seedbed and get good results. Here, I must start indoors before frost leaves the ground, to have the plants ready to bloom before it gets too hot. They fritter away at that point.

I think if I lived where you do I'd start them as soon as it starts to cool off ... beginning or middle of your winter perhaps? Keep them moist for two weeks and they should pre-sprout. Once the timing is right for them they should begin to push up and grow. These plants do grow really fast, so that's a strong point in their favor. I think they know that they need to bloom and be pollinated before the heat to be able to reproduce.

If it's still dry, warm or windy when you sow you can cover the seeded area with Tulle fabric to help retain constantly damp soil. This also helps to moderate any rainfall; the fabric will lessen the impact of heavy water drops which might push your seeds too deeply into the soil.

Best of luck to you. Smiling
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Nov 9, 2015 6:06 AM CST
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Dog Lover Houseplants Organic Gardener I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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I don't have an answer to your question, but others have already given gray answers; I'm joist poking my head in to say Welcome! to ATP!

Edited to say: wow, it's amazing how bad my the autocorrect on my phone is. To correct the above: gray = great and joist=just
Last edited by DogsNDaylilies Nov 25, 2015 9:37 AM Icon for preview
Nov 9, 2015 10:06 AM CST
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Rescue dogs: Angels with paws needi
Dragonflies Dog Lover Bookworm I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover
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Me, too, Molly. Smiling Welcome.
It’s okay to not know all the answers.
Nov 9, 2015 9:11 PM CST
Name: Karen
Valencia, Pa (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Echinacea
Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Welcome, Molly.

Nov 11, 2015 9:19 PM CST
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Bulbs Winter Sowing Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Charter ATP Member
Region: Canadian Enjoys or suffers cold winters Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
Phacelia campanularia grows great here as an annual wildflower.
I try to sow it while we are still getting light frosts.
I don't think it transplants all that well so I direct sow it early spring.

Tropical Surf is a taller form which seems to be more purple blue to me.

Welcome to ATP!
Last edited by CarolineScott Nov 11, 2015 9:22 PM Icon for preview
Nov 21, 2015 12:29 AM CST
Name: Dee Moore
Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a)
Seller of Garden Stuff Seed Starter Garden Art Butterflies Annuals Cactus and Succulents
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I've grown these several times from seed. I would suggest you go ahead and sow them in place, in a area that gets a little shade in summer. Maybe someplace that gets morning sun and is shaded in the afternoon. They tolerate shade well and will bloom with less than full sun. Seems to me I just tossed them out early spring when the days started getting warmer. 8" seems a bit far apart, don't sweat the small stuff, if they grow so good they get crowded you can joyfully thin them out, LOL. Just keep them damp until they sprout, they're easy. Check out your local farm supply when you're looking for wild flower seeds, sometimes they sell them in larger packages for reasonable. These are also nice "under" other plants. Use them as a ground cover under bushes or as a filler in a potted plant. You can never have too much blue!
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