Keith Kridler, Texas

Planting depth in nature

January 15, 2009
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Categories: Growing Daffodils, Hybridizer, Hybridizing, Planting, Seedling, Seeds, Soil

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It would make sense to cover up the daffodil seeds to keep the sun from drying them out completely and or slugs and snails from eating them and all the other creatures that might like to eat them.
In nature I expect that the seeds that get washed down hill or are blown further away with high winds from the parent plant would have an advantage over the seeds that fall right down in amongst the leaves of the parent plant.
In the hybridizers garden I expect we tend to grow on the seeds in a weed free environment. Grow them in selected soils that are free from large rocks, free from mucky clay ETC. I would guess that as long as the seedling sprouted that it is free to send down roots into a wonderful concoction of blended sands, grit, humus ETC.
Then each seed can do what they have been programmed to do for millions of years, it will create roots that will pull the tiny bulblet down to the depth that particular cultivar deems best for survival in that particular soil. Does anyone think that soil temperature has anything to do with the depth they pull themselves down to or is it simply soil texture?
Yesterday we were at 72*F again while Minnesota was at -30*F. Our average daily temperature in December last month was 49*F (9*C) same as last year.
Anyway I normally till up an area in my field where we have few weeds and or grass to compete with the seeds and dump out all the species types of daffodil seeds that we gather, rake the area smooth and then wait a few years…..
Time to spray Poast Grass Killer over my daffodils again before they all come into bloom. Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

2 responses to “Planting depth in nature”

  1. Donna Dietsch says:
    Hi Keith and also to Peter and Larry,
    In nature as in our gardens, when the pod starts to form seeds, the pod turns upward to keep the seeds from falling out of the pod.  The stem also becomes longer in order for the pod to deposit the seed a distance from the mother plant.  There is something that is secreted by the mother plant’s roots that will prevent the seed from germinating if it falls near the mother plant. ( I can’t remember what it is called).  If the seeds fall further from the mother plant they will have an advantage over the ones near the plant.  However, with our desire to have as many of these seeds germinate as we can, we can give them a more hospitable environment than what they would have if the just fell to the ground.  Seeds dropping on the surface are subject to many predations.  If we plant them into the soil, most of those things will not have any bearing on germination.  Most of our seeds will germinate.  The reason for those contractile roots is to pull the seed down to the best possible depth for survival of the plant.  This would be necessary in nature and advantageous in cultivation.  Soils with good tilth would make it easier for the roots to pull the seed down, but I have never noticed any effect from soil temperature.  Possibly someone else has.
    Larry, that is an interesting question about energy expended in getting a leaf to the top.  They always get there, but there is more tissue formed since the leaf is longer.  Maybe that is why Peter noticed the bulbs being smaller. 
    The heaving of seeds from freezing would usually be caused by shallow planting. That was why I settled on 2″ depth for my seeds.  I usually use a light mulch over the seed bed.  What I use depends on what I have, but chopped up leaf mold works pretty well, giving the tiny  leaves a light covering to get through, but still covering the soil enough to prevent heaving.  If I had good access to evergreen needles, I would use that.
    Thanks for the info on pencil shaped seedling bulbs.  That makes sense.
    Keith, what do you do with all those species type seedlings that you grow in the places where you”dump” all the seeds?  Are those what you sometimes photograph and send to daffnet?  I have used some of your photos as wallpaper for my desktop on many occasions.
    Donna Dietsch
    Columbus Ohio
    …where we are going to go below zero at night over the next couple of days.  BRRRRrrrr!!!

  2. David Liedlich says:

    Hi Donna,

    I think the growth inhibiting condition caused by the release of chemicals to the soil, to which you referred is called “Allelopathy”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allelopathy

    Dave Liedlich
    Connecticut