Lilies forum: Let's talk timelines for seedlings

Views: 596, Replies: 13 » Jump to the end
Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Joebass
May 9, 2017 2:08 PM CST
So over the past few years I've had very little success in growing seedlings fully to flower. My conclusion is that in addition to not being able to adequately control moisture on my pots over more than one season, maybe my climate is not conducive to pot growing for lilies. It does get pretty hot in the summer and rains quite a bit in the fall. So I believe that the lilies are hanging on during the hot parts and then getting to wet and rotting in fall or winter. My plan is to start my seedling bed this year so I can put this years seedlings in the ground by mid to late fall. Then my issues should be tempered by them being in the ground. I don't seem to be great at growing likes in pots long term. I'd like to hear everyone else's techniques if they can share.
Sydney, Australia (Zone 10b)
Protoavis
May 9, 2017 6:56 PM CST
I can't help with lilies specifically but I'm leaning towards the wet being the issue. I'm in Sydney, around early autumn (although give or take a month...it's not clock work) it's very wet here, it's usually the most wet period of the year. I tend to loose a lot of bulbs at this time (unless winter growers) if I don't move them into a sheltered area.

It may be the combination of heat stress followed quickly by a completely different stress. Heat alone (even during the several day heatwave of around 45C) hasn't killed off anything for me apart from some annuals (that self seed so no major loss) and a lot of what I grow is in the cheap black plastic pots.
Anyone with oryzalin (aka Surflan, Embargo), am looking for a small amount rather than 5litres from manufacturer (min size in Australia....)
[Last edited by Protoavis - May 10, 2017 3:40 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1438850 (2)
Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Image
dellac
May 10, 2017 6:27 AM CST
It's the wet following the dry that does my pot-grown seedlings in. I water like mad during the hottest months, but then there is a window of time when it starts to cool down and things, superficially at least, don't look heat-stressed, so I ease off the watering. The danger though is that the pots get drier than I think they are. Some young bulbs get too dry and roots die off... eventually the rains come and pots get soaked and bulbs rot because they don't have a healthy root system. At least that's what I think is happening!

I lose fewer seedlings in styrofoam boxes though. Better insulation and better drainage. In good mix and with favourable conditions, many asiatics (and, I'm discovering, Div. VI too), will flower 18 months from sowing. I don't disturb (transplant) them at all during that time, but do add fresh mix to the surface as it settles quite a bit.
Sweden
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
William
May 10, 2017 2:50 PM CST
While I don't do lily seedlings, I think using an old fashioned sand plunge for the pots would be helpful. It helps to even out moisture and moderate temperature. Combine this with a cold frame and you can use the glass to protect the seedling from excessive rain.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 10, 2017 6:54 PM CST
dellac said: ...Some young bulbs get too dry and roots die off... eventually the rains come and pots get soaked and bulbs rot because they don't have a healthy root system. At least that's what I think is happening!


I wonder about both of these: have you actually confirmed that all the roots die? (So then the bulblets would be soft, too?) Considering the condition of the roots when we buy bulbs from vendors, they are not in such great condition either (at best!). And when I dig and renovate my beds, all the bulbs come out, including little bulblets that I want to replant. Often the roots break off of the wee ones, and it is not uncommon for them to sit for a couple weeks *Blush* before I replant. but it seems not to matter, regarding survivability.

As an aside, if bulbs are soft due to dehydration, I try to rehydrate them slowly. For instance, I might plant them in moist soil, seal in a plastic bag for 5 days or so, then unseal and water. It's also a trick I do with recalcitrant seeds that have dried out; too much moisture too fast can actually damage overly dried cells (especially of these seeds) when parts of the cell absorbs water faster than other sections. The resulting physical pressures can destroy the cells. And of course, and transplanted cactus never gets immediately watered, either, so wounds can callus before rot from moisture can set in.


Edited for grammar
[Last edited by Leftwood - May 11, 2017 5:24 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1439888 (5)
Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Image
dellac
May 10, 2017 8:03 PM CST
mmhmm, was taking a guess, I admit. When I've unpotted during the dry stage (as I sometimes have), I find the bulbs soft and without roots. I just figured that these bulbs were the ones that didn't come up again after all the winter rain. Too much water too suddenly and it's too cold for good root growth?
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
May 10, 2017 9:06 PM CST
Well if you know there are some that are not coming up when you know they are (were) there, then it would seem logical that at least some of these softies would be the ones lost. Although with seedlings, there will always be some attrition, just due to poor genetics. Frankly, I didn't think anyone treated their lilies as severely as me *Blush* . If the bulblets (of equal size) from each individual pot are all about the same softness, then I would guess it was the fault of neglect. But there may be something else going on if there are differences.

When I go to pot up my tiny martagon seed bulbs from baggies, there is always quite the gamut of root substance, and it doesn't seem to correlate with bulb size within each lot. Sorry to say that I have not investigated further what happens with which ones.
Name: Patrick
Midland, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Image
auratum
May 11, 2017 10:55 AM CST
Joe - can't say I have had any greater success having been at this for much longer than you. I have not had good luck keeping things in pots and I made lots of mistakes in moving things from pots to the ground. I too have had significant losses trying to overwinter things in pots outside unless they were protected from winter wet - have to plunge the pots to minimize freeze thaw cycles and cover to ensure they don't get too much moisture.

There are some critical factors for seedlings survival - two mentioned already were temperature & moisture. An additional one to consider is aeration. I was talking with a long time lily grower and he was convinced that we smother some seedlings in the standard potting mixes as the mix consolidates after a short period of time. Most potting mixes are primarily peat based and as it breaks down it compresses and it becomes more difficult to control moisture. Is the affect of being too wet just preventing oxygen from getting to the roots? I did some more looking into this and the nursery trade uses of different potting mixes. What I found out was that the longer the plant was expected to stay in a pot, the higher the fraction of shredded wood/bark that was used. The wood/bark helps maintain the structure and porosity of the growing media in the pot.

Since learning more about this, I have started incorporating mulch into the soil mix where I am planning to grow things in pots. I grow a few tomato plants in pots and found it much easier to control the moisture for them when I add mulch to the mix. I can water every day and they don't get too wet as it drains very freely. The downside is I need to fertilize more as it would just get washed out with frequent watering.

Growing things in plastic pots doesn't help with aeration or moisture. I hadn't really thought about the merits of using terra cotta pots until I saw a recent discussion on this and that the pots are porous. I have never cared for terra cotta pots and avoided them as they were expensive and fragile but am not reconsidering they likely have value for more sensitive plants?

My biggest challenge with seedlings has been transplanting them to the garden and the losses I see there. I was looking at things from a farming background and thought that pulling seedlings apart and growing them spread out would be the best to ensure they have room. I have painfully learned that lilies prefer to be crowded and do best when they are. This changes everything about how I was approaching things and hoping this will improve my success rate.

The other challenge with transitioning from pot to garden is the difference in soil types. I use mostly potting soil for seedlings and then transition them to the garden where they in a sandy loam soil. The two types of growing media are different and depending on how the seedlings are planted can cause other issues. Bob Griesbach was a big proponent of using garden soil to start seedlings. He would fill rigid plastic flats with garden soil and plant his seeds right in the soil they will be in the rest of their lives (if they survive). He would start the seedlings in these trays in his greenhouse and leave them there all the way through the summer (where they saw really high temps - this was to weed out the weak ones that couldn't take heat) and plant them out in the fall. He would dig a hole that would receive the entire contents of the flat and drop the whole flat in the hole trying not to disturb things more than necessary. This works for robust growers like his own OT's, Aurelians, & Asiatics but not sure how well that would work for trying to grow some of the more delicate species?

So my current process is to start all seeds in 4" square plastic pots using Promix. I planted seeds very thick with the intent to have them a bit crowded in the pots. I germinate the seeds in plastic bags before moving them to the pots. I will plan to plant these out between now and the fall - some pots have grown so rapidly they I will likely need to plant out in the next month where other will remain under lights until fall when I will plant them out. I will be planting them as a clump and trying to minimize disturbing of the bulbs/roots as much as possible. This is for Asiatic/Aurelian/Trumpet crosses. For Orientals I am utilizing my refrigerator to allow me to give the plants a cold cycle - planning on 12 weeks cold and then a grow cycle under lights and then repeat until they are big enough to make the transition to the outside seedling bed. I will need to time this to ensure it links up to our growing season.

Keep us posted on your progress!
Name: Dave
Southern wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Region: Wisconsin Birds Irises Peonies Bulbs Seed Starter
Pollen collector Plant and/or Seed Trader Hybridizer Daylilies Garden Photography Dog Lover
Image
Nhra_20
May 11, 2017 3:32 PM CST
Patrick, just curious here. Between the time your seedlings go from under lights, to being planted in the garden, are you doing anything to acclimate them to outside conditions?
Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Joebass
May 11, 2017 4:34 PM CST
Dave I know you didn't specifically address me but in my experiences I put them in a shady spot for a few days and then wherever I want them in the pots. They can get a bit burnt from the full sun if you do it cold turkey but they will be ok anyway. I have to put mine outside soon because my garage will get to 80 plus degrees soon being on the south side of my house with no ventilation. Will just be too hot in there.
Name: Joe
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
Lilies Region: New York Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Joebass
May 12, 2017 5:06 AM CST
Rick and Della, my thoughts would have to concur with Della, but I think that the small bulbs don't deal with the stresses of growing new roots as well as larger rootless bulbs (like you described Rick). Maybe it has something to do with the surface area of the bulb or the energy reserves.

Patrick, I moved to promix this year and love it. I bought the compressed bales and it has been great. No gnats and pretty fungus free. Interesting about the wood chips although I may not need to try it if I can get my seedlings in the ground by the end of the first growing season. I have realized and have been told, the less you mess with the young bulbs roots the better they will be. For that reason I seed 1 gallon pots with 20-30 seeds and now plan on pulling the whole pot out like a plug and just planting the whole pot in the ground. We will see how this works. The most frustrating thing is loosing a pot of seedlings for varying reasons. I put my pots in my shed outside and some hold the moisture and rot while other dry up and completely dry up. I have to try to let Mother Nature do the overwintering for me.
Name: Patrick
Midland, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Image
auratum
May 13, 2017 9:40 AM CST
Nhra_20 said:Patrick, just curious here. Between the time your seedlings go from under lights, to being planted in the garden, are you doing anything to acclimate them to outside conditions?


Dave - I would always recommend acclimating plants from one environment to another. Changes in temp, humidity, light, & air movement will stress the plants and it takes some time for them to adjust to the new growing environment.
Name: Patrick
Midland, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Image
auratum
May 13, 2017 9:53 AM CST
Joebass said:Patrick, I moved to promix this year and love it. I bought the compressed bales and it has been great. No gnats and pretty fungus free. Interesting about the wood chips although I may not need to try it if I can get my seedlings in the ground by the end of the first growing season. I have realized and have been told, the less you mess with the young bulbs roots the better they will be. For that reason I seed 1 gallon pots with 20-30 seeds and now plan on pulling the whole pot out like a plug and just planting the whole pot in the ground. We will see how this works. The most frustrating thing is loosing a pot of seedlings for varying reasons. I put my pots in my shed outside and some hold the moisture and rot while other dry up and completely dry up. I have to try to let Mother Nature do the overwintering for me.


I have heard of others doing the same with using a shed/garage. One problem with the shed is that the temps still fluctuate lots and may actually shelter just enough to cause more frequent cycles below and above 32F. The ideal would be like a root cellar where the temps are more stable to reduce cycling between freezing temps and warmer. I can see the challenges with moisture management as well. Not sure the best way to resolve that. I think your strategy of getting them in the ground in the fall is a good one. Bob Griesbach spoke lots about making sure the seedlings experienced fall conditions (reduced light & cooler temps) to allow the sugars to concentrate before cold temps. The high sugar content acts like anti-freeze for the seedlings and helps them survive through the winter months. Sounds like you plan to move the pots out long before then so you won't have to worry about that. It could be bad to take seedlings from inside under lights where they are in full growth and put them in the ground in the fall without a transition time - it would be better to move them outside in the pots in say September to allow them to follow the seasonal light/temps and prepare for winter dormancy.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
Image
Roosterlorn
May 13, 2017 8:32 PM CST
To expand a little bit on what Patrick is saying about temperature and moisture control, I should explain how I do it. I like to mimic nature so I overwinter mine outside in a lily garden along with their aunts and uncles and all the rest. The difference being the seedlings (n) are growing in 1 gallon size pots and stored in a sunken bed (the exact opposite of a raised bed constructed of 2" X 10" x 10' lumber). It is designed to accommodate about 30 '1 gallon' size nursery pots when tipped on their side. The bottom has a one piece of 1/2 inch hardware cloth affixed with slats for vole protection but it also provides a firm base for keeping the pots neat, uniformly spaced and level. With all the pots in place, the cage is then filled garden soil and gently tapped down in place with hoe handle, etc. Then the top layer of hardware clothe is added and a slight mound or cap is formed with additional soil. Just prior to affixing the hardware cloth, a 24 inch PVC pipe is added to coincide with the center of pot level into which a 24 inch calibrated thermometer will be inserted for the winter temperature monitoring. When the ground freezes, the final winter protection consists of randomly scattered spruce boughs with tossed oak leaves. Then, just wait for mother nature to put down about 8 inches of snow.

So, by now, you're probably thinking that this is a lot of monkey work. Well, turns out, it's not. I can bury 30 pots in less than an hour and once I'm done, I'm done---until I decide it's time to dig them back up for their wake up. Usually done in late March, early April and placed on the floor of an unheated backyard greenhouse. Once growing, these entering their (n + 1 season will be placed in between the rows of the other taller lilies for dappled shade. Those that complete their (n + 1) season will be planted out in early October. Gradual phase in to near dormancy starts around early September. There is no Fall feeding of any potted seedlings after September 1st. and if they don't dry up from lack of rainfall, the pots are either tipped or put back in the greenhouse to dry. They are positioned in the cage 'dry' and moisture will gradually spread through the pot and become ambient in time.

The main reason I like to grow seedlings in pots for two full growing seasons (n + 1) is that I'm a firm believer that the larger size plays an important roll in survivability and blooming during (n+2) or third year from seeding. Most bulbs will be about the size of a US nickel or quarter and contain more than enough starch resource to endure a lengthy topsy-turvy winter after transplanting into the garden.

And , for what it's worth I bottom feed (n) with a 5-10-5.


Thumb of 2017-05-14/Roosterlorn/aed9f7


Thumb of 2017-05-14/Roosterlorn/e0ce96


Thumb of 2017-05-14/Roosterlorn/3ca4f5

FEB 5th, 2013


Thumb of 2017-05-14/Roosterlorn/b5b184

[Last edited by Roosterlorn - May 13, 2017 8:43 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1442939 (14)

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Lilies forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Penstemon Dark Towers blooms"