Ask a Question forum: Recognizing Hardy Hibiscus seedlings?

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Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 4, 2017 1:39 PM CST
EDIT::: I misheard or was misinformed when I was given the seeds. Someone here correctly guessed I was given Hardy Hibiscus seeds. So I'm still curious about seedling appearance, but my original question title named the wrong plant.

Original question was:

A google search for hydrangea seedling photos found a modest number of photos, with no commonality I could see. Nothing I can detect was similar from one to the next nor was anything different from those compared to the many unidentified weeds which will pop up in the spring in any bare ground.

Last fall, someone gave me a LOT of seeds that she said were hydrangea and she was pretty convincing that is a plant I would want in a few places in my yard.

But after my dismal results with other seeds, I decided against sprouting them in any really controlled setting. Instead, in two locations I aggressively ripped out the prior weeds and in late fall spread the seeds and put a very thin layer of dirt over them. So I expect lots of sprouts of many weeds in the spring and some of them will be the hydrangeas (or whatever I actually was given).

I think I'll need to weed the result, which will be tricky since I don't know what the seedlings I want to grow look like and with just a few exceptions I don't know what the weed seedlings I want to get rid of look like.

I also threw half the seeds in the woods on totally unprepared ground, which was what the woman giving me the seeds said to do with all of them. She was sure that with no help, many of them would grow big enough to be obvious and then I could transplant those to where I want them (which is mostly spots on the boundary between woods and yard, where I have nothing now but am also trying to transplant rhododendrons). But my experience is Murphy's law is more strictly enforced. Nothing planted thrives, only volunteers thrive.
[Last edited by jsf67 - Feb 6, 2017 1:02 PM (+)]
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 5, 2017 12:14 PM CST
I've never heard of anyone starting hydrangeas from seeds. Are you absolutely sure they are hydrangeas? Even the old-fashioned hydrangeas that my mother had in her garden for 50 years never made any seeds.

I think most hydrangeas that you would buy as a started plant are from cuttings. I'd advise you to start with plants from a good nursery and plant them in good soil in a nice shady area. You'll be much more assured of having a healthy blooming plant of what you are expecting. Seeds may or may not reflect the blooms, colors or other traits of their parent plants.

As far as the seeds you planted already, I think you should wait until all seedlings are a good size, with several leaves then post a picture here so that we can see the plants. Someone may be able to identify what you have, from a picture. Otherwise, you're going to have to wait longer, until some of the weeds bloom to remove them so the seeds you planted will have a chance to grow. Don't go tearing out too many seedlings until you know what they are for sure.
Elaine

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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 5, 2017 12:51 PM CST
Apparently, it IS possible to grow hydrangeas from seed. At least, according to a couple of websites I came across. The seeds are produced in the smaller, central, less noticeable flowers in the cluster. They were described as "minute and black." The one article I was reading, also recommended just sprinkling them on the surface of the soil.
http://www.doityourself.com/st...

Hindsight being 20/20, just think: If you had tried sowing a few in a controlled environment, you might have been able to see what the seedlings look like. Smiling
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Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 5, 2017 2:54 PM CST
Either I wonder what they mean by "minute" or I wonder what seeds she gave me. I don't have perfect recollection of size, but I certainly wouldn't say "minute". The other seeds I planted were campanula, which I would call nearly microscopic. "Minute" should be not much bigger than that. But these were quite a bit bigger, not up to the size of the seeds in oranges, but closer to that size than to campula seed size.
Whatever it was had pretty big flowers, since she gave me a bag of the shriveled up husks of flowers and the seeds were inside and the husks were pretty big.

I probably would have been posting pictures of all the unidentified sprouts here in the spring anyway. Even the ones I'm sure I want to get rid of, I'm curious to know the names.

There is also a perennial with tiny purple spring flowers, that volunteers all over my property. I'm trying to build a cluster of them in one place and rip it out everywhere else. I'm pretty sure the seeds of that are tiny, durable, numerous etc. so any bare ground like this will start a bunch of them. But I have no clue what those look like first year. I know what they look like reemerging from roots in their second and subsequent spring, but not first year. Unlike violets and lily of the valley, and most other perennials here, those do not seem to ever propagate by rhizome or other root system, only by seed. But they are multi-year perennial weeds. Anyway, one of my planned spring projects is to photograph just about everything that sprouts in the two beds of "hydrangeas" (or something else) and one of campanula. I hope new campanula seedlings outdoors (which I have never seen) look something like my campanula seedlings indoors. But I won't assume that before getting some evidence. I know a few possible appearances for campanula reemerging from established roots. But seedlings don't look like that.

BTW, I strongly resist buying plants from nurseries. Part of that is due to the number of times my wife has done so over the years and the dismal success rate. If I plant from seed or transplant volunteers (or cutting from successful plants) I get a bunch of tries at low cost so a dismal success rate can lead to a few successes. From a nursery means fewer tries at higher cost and the much worse success rate (because they lied about what can survive the acid soil and shade) gets pretty depressing.

I was hoping someone might describe and/or illustrate some of the distinctive features to check for in the sprouts I'm trying to identify. Consider the campanula that I think I might now know how to recognize, refer to my very magnified sprout picture:

In that photo, you can still see the two cotyledons that were the whole plant initially, two round smooth non distinct leaves so similar (to me) in size and shape and everything else (to impossibly many other weed sprouts), that there is no way to do anything other than wait. However, what happens next is moderately distinctive. All the other sprouts that stowed away in the dirt I used for campanula and had that same first pair of leaves did something distinct next: A quick thin stalk above the first pair of leaves and next two leaves from the top of the stalk. Doesn't matter what the next leaf shapes are, not campanula. We're still talking magnification needs to see, but leaves (after the cotyledons) growing from the top of even a tiny stalk is not campanula. Other random weeds have the next two leaves look just like the first two. Ever so much not campanula. Then note that opening upright tube shape of the newest leaf in that photo. That certainly isn't unique to campanula but is pretty distinctive. All my campanula sprouts started new leaves one at a time as one of those open upright tubes from ground level at the center of the plant. Then you see those notches along the edges of the mature leaves (and not the cotyledons). Those may be the most consistent characteristic of these campanula from sprouts though all the various leaf forms of the mature plants. Finally at high enough magnification those micro thorns on the edges.

In seeing what is distinct about seedlings of some other plant, maybe the structure of veins in the leaves (with some magnification) would have identifying value (in the campanula there seems to be no consistency in vein structure from one seedling to another.

So my example is photo of a seedling and comment about what is consistent across a range of time and across the pool of seedlings without being common across too many other plants. I'd love to have that for the other seedlings I expect to encounter.

When looking at one, it can be very hard to guess what is random vs. what has identifying value.
[Last edited by jsf67 - Feb 5, 2017 3:51 PM (+)]
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
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Calif_Sue
Feb 5, 2017 4:36 PM CST

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Whatever it was had pretty big flowers, since she gave me a bag of the shriveled up husks of flowers and the seeds were inside and the husks were pretty big.


Doesn't sound like a hydrangea to me! Blinking
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Name: Sue
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sooby
Feb 5, 2017 4:59 PM CST
There are some pictures of hydrangea seeds here:

https://www.google.ca/search?q...
Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Danita
Feb 5, 2017 5:15 PM CST
Just a crazy thought, but could she have meant Hardy Hibiscus rather than Hydrangea?



Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 6, 2017 6:40 AM CST
Thankyou. That second Hardy Hibiscus photo is exactly what she gave me. So now I should be trying to figure out what those seedlings look like.

I'm impressed you could jump that directly from my confused ramblings to exactly what I actually had.
[Last edited by jsf67 - Feb 6, 2017 6:46 AM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 6, 2017 8:59 AM CST
Here's one seedling photo from our database:
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[Last edited by woofie - Feb 6, 2017 9:01 AM (+)]
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Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 6, 2017 11:00 AM CST
@woofie thanks. I will try to use that for comparison. But it doesn't look very seedling like to me. Maybe new growth from well established roots. Some plants have seedlings that look similar to (smaller versions of) the new growth from established roots. But many others appear not to.

Clover seedlings look like an incredibly miniaturized version of exactly the same shape as new growth from established roots. The Campanula seedlings (as in my photo) would be hard to ever guess at being the same plant compared to new growth from established roots. Most of the plants I can identify when growing from previous roots are ones I never identified as seedlings, so I don't know how different the seedlings look.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 6, 2017 11:26 AM CST
By the way, I noticed you edited your original post to change your question to hardy hibiscus. I believe you can change the subject line of your original thread by clicking on the "Suggest a Change" link at the bottom of the thread.
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DaisyI
Feb 6, 2017 8:18 PM CST
I wish you had just posted a new thought on your old thread. Now I am confused as I was following this (thread) but its no longer congruent as the original question is gone. Confused
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Calif_Sue
Feb 6, 2017 8:24 PM CST

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I agree, anyone now reading the thread for the first time will be totally confused by all the replies talking about hydrangeas.
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Name: Danita
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Danita
Feb 10, 2017 4:10 AM CST
jsf67 put a big EDIT notice at the top of his original post so I don't think that anyone should get too confused.

Glad that I could help, jsf67! Green Grin! The clues in your "ramblings" paired with the fact that people often get names that start with the same letter confused just gave me the feeling that you had Hardy Hibiscus rather than Hydrangea.

Here is a photo of seedlings with cotyledons that may help.

Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 10, 2017 6:32 AM CST
Thanks. Do you know of a photo of the stage right after that? Also the scale?

To me, a pair of cotyledons looks basically the same across the majority of plants. So I would need to wait for the first real leaf.

The seed is larger than almost all my volunteers, so I'd expect the cotyledons to also be larger. Maybe that will be enough of a clue once these actually sprout. But first, I need to pull some of the volunteers that sprout earlier, before they take over the space. Among the volunteers in my current indoor project (because I used outdoor dirt unmodified) everything but grass sprouted the same (size and shape) cotyledons as the campanula I'm trying to grow. Then there are dramatic differences between them in the way subsequent leaves emerge. So then (with 2x glasses on) I can pull the weed sprouts.
Name: stone
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stone
Feb 10, 2017 8:56 AM CST
Its my experience that any hibiscus seedlings look similar... So... Maybe plant some okra and rose of Sharon?

Seems like maybe you're jumping the gun on other seedlings, if you're out there with a magnifying glass and tweezers....

I always like giving stuff time to be recognized... At my house, a lot of the other stuff coming up Is valuable plant material too, and a little competition always seems to produce healthier survivors....

I have a theory that all these plants evolved in competition, and a few "weeds" aren't going to hurt anything, and might actually be a benefit....

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