I finally planted the seedlings, with great excitement followed by four days of frost advisory. This night is supposed to be the last one and the plants seem to have made it, wrapped in plastic bags and covered with pots.
African Violets are extremely easy to propagate from leaf cuttings. I don’t know how I can fill a whole post with details of the process, but all there is to it is cut a leaf and stick it in the ground: it will take care of itself from here.
Of course, it helps if you dip the stem in rooting hormone and keep the dirt moist. For a couple of weeks it looks like it is not doing anything, and then the miracle happens.
Did you know that lupines and beans are first cousins? If you didn’t, the seed pods might give you an inkling. As a part of the Fabaceae family, the lupines grow their offspring in the familiar seed pods, that are to beans what mastodons are to elephants. Spiky, hairy and archaic, the lupine beans look sort of familiar. As all members of the bean family, they can process the nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots as ammonia, thus improving the soil for the surrounding plants. They are also perennials, so you can watch them grow and spread year after year. Lupines are tall, imposing plants that do well against a wall or in the center of the border. They are sun loving plants, so make sure to plant them in a spot that gets plenty of sunshine.
How unearthly does that look! The “Giant Allium” does not only produce the well known beautiful purple globes, but after the flowers fade, it turns into this unbelievable spaceship seed. Don’t get overexcited though, the allium is done blooming mid June, and the seedpods don’t last long enough to provide winter interest. Another downer is that the flowers are either sterile or new plants are not coming true from seed.
That being said, though, it is a must in the perennial garden. The giant alliums come out faithfully year after year and if the conditions are good (at least part-sun and plenty of water), they will spread. You can dig them out and divide them in the fall to get more of these beautiful plats in your garden. They are completely care free, once you planted them and gave them a little bit of food, they will not need anything else. They are not disease prone and will not crowd your other plants. After the seeds are ripened, the plant dies back and will come back next spring.
This perennial grows up to 2 feet in height and about a foot wide and will provide food for the birds, bees and butterflies. Alliums are not scented, but the huge flower balls up to 8 inches in diameter are spectacular. Another plus is that squirrels don’t seem to have an appetite for the bulbs, so if you plant them in the fall, you’ll see them the following spring.
If you decide to try your luck and propagate the plant from seed, just let the seeds dry on the plant and store them in a brown paper bag in a place where they will not be susceptible to mold.
Come spring, plant in peat moss under a plastic or glass cover to contain the moisture. Good luck. If nothing else, you’ll satisfy your curiosity with respect to what can come out of those seeds. If you really, really want more of these beautiful plants, divide the bulbs.