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Growing Lobelia From Seed

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Charming lobelia, spreading as a bright carpet in flower beds and squares, looking elegant in airy ampelas is one of the most favorite summer plants. Long-lasting flowering, unpretentiousness, fast growth and lace-like blooms, despite the poisonous nature of the plant, ensure it the title of the leader among the openwork abundant-flowered crops. Growing lobelia is not at all difficult, and the easiest and most accessible way is to grow your own beauty from seeds.

Growing lobelia from seed
Lobelia. © Andrew Webster

Description of lobelia

Lobelia are lacy, lush, surprisingly "plastic" annuals that create delicately textured flowering clouds or uniquely lush patches. Lobelia grows as a creeping plant with thin, flexible shoots. In soil it spreads in carpets or grows in spheres-bushes, in containers - elegantly hanging down (accordingly varieties are divided into border and ampelic).

The most valuable feature of lobelia, as of any other star lettuce, is rightly considered a long, relentless, abundant flowering. But lobelia also has more than good foliage: small but dense, it forms an always fresh looking and lush green background for the massive scattering of flowers. They literally shine, small, delicate, but very beautiful.

In the genus lobelia - more than 300 varieties of plants. The most beautiful blossoms are the universal favorite lobelia erinus (lobelia erinus). But other, rare species are as easy to propagate as this beauty. Lobelia: ampelia, thinnest, strongest and even beautiful can be grown from seed without trouble or expense. These beauties are not sown in open soil, but grown only by seedling method.

Self-picking seeds and their choice for sowing

Even in the conditions of the average strip lobelia have mature seeds. They must be collected after the withering of bushes, or after the yellowing of capsules, not shaking the seeds, and cut the fruits into deep containers and shake already indoors (the seeds are very light, just carried by the wind). To prevent oversowing, you can pre-tie the fruits with a transparent cloth.

Since the seeds of lobelia are very small, they complicate the sowing process. Today you can find on sale pelleted seeds, which are easier to work, allow you to get a "nest" of lobelia of 3-5 plants at once. When buying seeds, carefully study the form of growth - bushy or ampelic - and preferences for growing conditions.

If you want to grow lobelia that can grow in light shade or semi-shade, you'd better look for those modern hybrids and varieties that are specially bred less light loving.

Growing lobelia from seed
Seed box lobelia. © Michael B. Thomas

Soil and containers for sowing lobelia

Bins for sowing seedlings should be low, shallow, and preferably large. For lobelia, plastic containers from sweet treats, small vessels or pots with a height of 2-3 to 5-6 cm are well suited. For pelleted seeds and simplification of cultivation, refusal of picking perfectly suitable cassettes for seedlings.

For reproduction of lobelia it is necessary to choose a quality, nutritious, but as light in texture substrate - loose, water- and air-permeable. Finished soil mixes for flowering crops, independently prepared soil from garden soil, vermiculite and sand are excellent for this flowering plant.

There should be no humus in the substrate for lobelia. It is desirable to disinfect the soil - to treat with a special agent, drench with a weak solution of manganese solution or treated with boiling water.

Sowing lobelia seeds

The optimal time for sowing lobelia is March and early April, but for an earlier flowering many gardeners start to sow lobelia already in February. The "deadline" for sowing lobelia is considered mid-April. This summer flowering is 2-2,5 months after sowing.

Seeds of lobelia are very small, they need to be mixed with sand before sowing. An alternative method is to plant 3-5 seeds, hooked on the moistened tip of a toothpick. But this variant of sowing is much more time-consuming. Sowing in the snow is problematic because of supercooling, and it is inconvenient to work with tweezers. Granulated seeds can be manually scattered into individual small cups or cassette cells one by one.

Technique of sowing lobelia for seedlings:

  1. Containers for sowing fill with soil, without tamping it down.
  2. Do not water the soil before sowing.
  3. Spread the seeds together with the sand evenly on the surface of the soil, trying to sow them not too densely (or spread the seeds by hand).
  4. Spray the surface with a sprayer. It is not necessary to cover the seeds with soil.
  5. Immmediately after sowing, cover the container with lobelia with foil or glass. They should be removed every day for airing.

Conditions for germination of lobelia seeds

Lobelia seeds are photosensitive, they need the brightest possible light for germination. As for temperatures, lobelia germinate in room conditions - at 18 to 22 degrees. For lobelia, it is necessary to regularly air the crops, remove the film or glass, and maintain a stable substrate humidity by gently sprinkling the surface.

The process of appearance of lobelia germination usually stretches to 2 weeks, with insufficient light the seeds germinate later.

Growing plants

The most difficult in growing lobelia from seeds on their own is to meet the requirement of cool conditions of germination. Immediately after the emergence of seedlings from lobelia need to remove glass or film, move the containers to conditions with lower temperatures, in the range of 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.

If it is impossible to lower the temperature, you must carefully ensure that the substrate is always kept slightly moist on the surface, increase the frequency of spraying, while avoiding excessive moisture.

Propagation carefully, gently moistening the substrate growing in a container until the second pair of true leaves. Cultivate lobelia sprouts without picking for 1 month in general

Growing lobelia from seed
Sprouting of lobelia sprouts. © Gardenista

Picking seedlings and caring for young lobelia

Late picking of lobelia is done after abundant watering. Bundles of up to 5-6 lobelia are carefully separated with a spatula or small spoon. Plants are placed not one at a time, but "nests" in one container. For lobelia, you can use and peat tablets, and "honeycomb", and individual plastic or peat cups.

For the young plants to get stronger and achieve decorativeness, they need careful, careful care. Seedlings of lobelia are afraid of both complete drought and overwatering. The most dangerous for lobelia is considered a black leg, it is especially dangerous for lettuce while keeping young sprouts and seedlings in the heat, quickly destroy all plants when overwatering the soil. In contrast to many annuals, lobelia begins to be fertilized already at the seedling stage: fertilizers are applied 2 weeks after picking. The beauties will also benefit from pruning for greater thickening.

In the cultivation of lobelia there is an alternative technique: rearing without picking in individual containers or picking in deeper common containers. Since this summerling is not afraid of transplanting and grows compactly, if there is not enough space to grow seedlings, lobelia can be reared before planting in soil directly in the container in which it was sown. But when seeding, breaking (or rather, cutting) the tightly braided clump into separate groups-nests, the roots are injured, some plants are inevitably lost.

Hardening lobelia seedlings

Lobelia can start hardening almost immediately after picking, taking young plants out into the fresh air on warm days as soon as the weather allows. Thanks to the long-term hardening lobelia will become more resistant: the seedlings can stand the temperature fall to -2 degrees. © peganum

Lobelia planting in the open ground

Lobelia seedlings in the open ground can be transferred only at the end of May, because this flowering plant is very sensitive to return frosts and low temperatures.

The optimal distance at planting - about 15 cm between bushes. In containers and ampeles lobelia can be planted closer to achieve a more aesthetic lushness.

When planting the plant, remember that lobelia are light-loving plants, which flower most beautifully in a sunny area (only some hybrids and modern varieties are not afraid of diffused light or light shade). And after planting the plants need constant, systematic care - abundant watering to compensate even short-term drought.

This is a moisture-loving summer plant, in which complete drying of the soil causes a stop to development and flowering. Bushes can be restored, but it will be difficult to achieve the same flawless beauty of lobelia without systematic watering. But feeding lobelia needs literally minimal amounts (potted lobelia is fed according to the standard scheme - once a week, but with reduced doses, but in the ground lobelia enough for 1-2 procedures. And for lobelia to flower relentlessly until the first frosts, it will need help.

After the flowering goes down, the plant should be pruned (or just shorten the individual faded shoots).

Growing lobelia from seed
Lobelia. © heyrehair

Alternative methods of propagation of lobelia

If lobelia is grown as a perennial plant, besides the seed method you can also use vegetative methods - cuttings or bush division.

This alternative is also the only way to fully preserve the varietal properties of some hybrid lobelia varieties, which when propagated by seeds give seedlings with split characteristics.