Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/worlds16/public_html/blog/index.php:1) in /home/worlds16/public_html/blog/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8
When it comes to soil type, voacanga likes a moist, rich soil. We’ve had success with regular Scott’s brand potting soil straight from the bag. You can go as close as 2” for the initial spacing on your sprouts. Clearly, more space is better though. Once you’ve buried the seedlings as discussed above, cover the top of your container with clear plastic wrap and place under lights.
We recommend artificial light because it is more consistent and easy to control. However, there’s no reason good natural light would not work. Voacanga prefers bright light. In side-by-side comparisons, the plants given the most light put on the most visible growth with the largest leaves. Fluorescent lighting works fine, specifically t5 fluoresents. These are the really skinny tubes, and they are known for the best and most even output of growth for plants. The only drawback is that they are a little harder to find. In the event that you cannot use t5’s, other fluorescent lights can be substituted.
Once your voacanga seedlings have had a chance to mature, you can begin to separate them out into their own containers. At this point, they should be relatively stable and easy to manage. It is important to maintain high humidity and bright light for your voacanga africana plants. Keep the soil consistently moist without it getting completely soggy.
Voacanaga Africana is a very rewarding plant to grow, specifically because of its rarity in ethnoboatnical plant collections. Rarity is certainly not because of a lack of interest in the plant but rather because of the added difficulties involved with growing it. But we hope that this guide will help you overcome those obstacles so you can enjoy the satisfaction of having done so and become part of a rather limited group of collectors with this plant.
SHOP OUR STORE FOR VOACANGA AFRICANA SEEDS AND MORE
Much of the information circulating about the entho community has been recycled many times. Much of the “common knowledge” that people share is based on information that people have originally drawn from what I consider to be a considerably limited number of print sources. And although we regard a lot of the authors of these publications as experts, the authors themselves would tell you that the real experts are indigenous people who have much longer histories with plants we’re (comparatively) just beginning to discover. This is where experts themselves are going to learn. At the same time, modern society also has an affinity for scientific methods that can take this knowledge to the next level. So really, expanding the collective knowledge about entheogens comes about by researching more into historical use and by doing scientific research with plants.
A periodical on the subject of ethnobotanicals offers a forum for this type of activity to take place and a mode of disseminating the knowledge. Unlike print books, the periodical format offers the unique opportunity for the progressive exploration of topics. Each issue builds upon what has previously been printed, and new knowledge determines what topics are “current”. So I guess to put it simply, my vision involves a progressive flow of current topics and new research that will expand the collective knowledge of enthos even further.
On an aesthetic level, Dragibus is printed on high-quality paper with a sturdy cover that exceeds what most well-established magazines have to offer. Aside from this, the outside and inside covers at both ends of the magazine are designed with high-quality photography. The latter half of the issue is also generously packed with images of acacia confusa in Taiwan as they pertain to an article on exactly that. This gives the feel that you are reading a book that you’d keep in your library, not a magazine that you’d keep on your toilet and then discard.
Dragibus, judging by the first issue, has a satisfying diversity of topics. The first article, “Trichocereus and the Chavin: A Love Story” offers a look into the Chavin culture that once existed in modern-day Ancash, Peru. The article presents specific factual information regarding the archaeology and history of the temple of Chavin de Huantar, changing pace in the latter part of the article as it gives way to a creative interpretation of what an experience in the temple might have been like. If this article were a liberal arts student, it would major in history and minor in creative writing.
Another article, “Kratom Te’j: A modern Approach to an Ancient Beverage”, introduces the topic of using medicinal herbs to replace hops in the brewing process. This article may be appealing simply on its insight into the brewing process. But the article also introduces readers to the Ethiopian beverage called T’ej, a traditional type of alcoholic beverage. What you cannot expect to find anywhere else, though, is a recipe that modifies the process for making this traditional beverage using kratom (mitragyna speciosa) as a bittering agent. Hopefully this is the type of progressive knowledge we can expect from a publication like Dragibus, and with plans for follow-up articles centering on additional herbal brewing recipes, it would seem promising that we can.
Dragibus ends by taking us offshore, with a 9-page article on Acacia Confusa in Taiwan. Aside from the high-quality photos, this article offers far more than what you’re likely to get out of a Wikipedia article. Wikipedia is relevant not just because it epitomizes what the collective knowledge on a subject usually is, but because this article is also arranged by subject headings. In this case, the article covers seven different aspects of the tree. “Traditional Use in Taiwan” is among these subjects. Although the article indicates there being a fairly limited tradition of entheogenic use for this plant in Taiwan, the article does offer brief insight into the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan based on the author’s actual interactions with these people. An anecdote involving another plant and the author’s interaction with an aborigine man is humorous in its depiction of their rudimentary attempt at communication. But the limitations on communication coupled with what actually seems to have been conveyed leaves further room for study of the culture. Few of us have access to this type of experience ourselves. We’re not likely to find aborigines surfing the internet posting their firsthand accounts. But with plans for follow-up articles on the subject, Dragibus at least offers access to where we cannot personally go.
We can all look back on classic articles by pioneers like Gordon Wasson and Richard Evan Shultes and see what kinds of profound contributions they made to modern knowledge of entheogens. Original copies of these articles, such as the May 1957 copy of Life magazine featuring Gordon Wasson’s work with psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico, are considered collectible today. They are part of history. But every discipline thrives on continuing education and discussion of current events within that field. What will be the Life articles of today when we look back in fifty years? With only one issue in circulation, Dragibus is certainly in its infancy. It would be premature to make any type of predictions about its future. But we’re here following from Day One, and we would certainly recommend that anyone with a genuine interest in entheogens have a look at Dragibus.
You can find out more about Dragibus at http://www.dragibusmag.com/]]>
The first thing you want to consider is the leaf margins. The plant in this photo is young, but you can see one of the key ID features of alba vs. viridis showing even at this early age. The leaf margins extend all the way down on both sides of the petiole to meet the stem. In simpler terms, the stem or central leaf vein that connects the leaf to the main plant stem has little pieces of leaf (leaf margins) on both sides that follow all the way down on both sides. Sometimes alba leaf margins will come down close. But you want to make sure they come down all the way on both sides. This seems very simple, but it is actually a very consistent feature of psychotria viridis.
With psychotria alba, the leaf margin ends up further on the petiole (leaf stem). Normally, you might not think to pay attention to this type of detail. But if you do, it will almost certainly allow you to tell the difference between the two species. Variance can occur even among leaves on the same plant. So it is important to stick to these features and not be misled by paying attention to other types of similarities or differences. If you are shopping for a plant, this is most likely the feature you will have to base your ID on because it is the feature that reveals itself in all stages of growth without having the plant growing in front of you. If you understand the concept, it should eventually become quite obvious. Don’t let your imagination stretch. Most “viridis” plants are really alba.
A second difference that will help you ID whether your psychtoria is alba or viridis is growth speed. Unfortunately, you will not be able to use this feature to ID a plant until you already have the plant growing in front of you. Growth speed is also a more subjective feature than the leaf margin. But it can be used in conjunction with the other features to create a well-rounded identification of your psychotria plant. So getting to the point, psychotria alba is known to grow at a faster rate than psychotria viridis. If your plant is putting on growth fairly quickly, it might be a sign that you have an alba growing. But you also have to consider the role that conditions play in growth speed. Many times, even alba will grow rather slowly, especially in cooler temperatures. But you can consider growth speed a good way to back up what you’ve found out about the leaf margins on your plant.
A third feature to consider in your psychotira ID is flower color. While flower color is perhaps the most easily distinguishable feature, it requires that your plant be in bloom. It is rare that you’ll find a plant for sale that is in bloom. But like growth speed, it can often provide more insight about a plant you’ve been growing. When it comes to flower color, alba, as the name suggests, has white flowers. On the other hand, viridis will most often have greenish flowers with white stamens. So if you see green flowers, it’s a pretty good affirmation that you’re growing psychotria viridis.
A fourth feature to consider in your psychotria ID is leaf waviness. It is important to use this as a secondary feature in your identification because it is less consistent. It is more of a way to rule out viridis than to confirm alba. Psychotria alba leaves tend to have wavy or rippled edges whereas those of psychotria viridis will not. You can see from the psychotria alba picture above that waviness is not always a feature of alba. Some clones of the same plant did show wavy leaves though. What is important to remember is that wavy edges are frequently associated with alba, but not always. So if you do see them, it is a good piece of information to use in conjunction with your other findings to suggest that you are dealing with alba. You might see certain curling of viridis leaves due to humidity or health conditions. So it is important to note that we are specifically referring to rippling on the edges of the leaves. This feature usually does not appear as some type of deformity, but rather as a natural feature of the leaf itself. But to reiterate, leaf waviness is a variable feature of psychotria alba. So do not let the lack of waviness on its own trick you into thinking you are dealing with psychotria viridis. It seems that this is one area where many people are steered wrong.
One last feature to consider in your psychotria ID is the undersides of the leaf. It has been noted that the undersides of psychotria viridis leaves tend to have what look like little “spines” coming off the central leaf vein. The following link shows an example of these types of so-called spines http://entheopedia.org/pics/Entheopedia.Org/pvirisid.jpg This feature is not normally associated with psychotria alba, and it can be another part of a well-rounded psychotria identification.
Aside from these five features, there are certain other tendencies of viridis compared to psychotria alba. However, to avoid the risk of causing confusion we will keep our ID guide to these more reliable characteristics. Using the information described above, there should be quite enough information for you to make an informed identification. Although at first glance, the two species are seemingly undistinguishable, we now see that there are actually a number of obvious differences that surface when you focus on the details. It is important to value the more consistent features, such as the leaf margins extending down to the stem, over the variable features, such as the wavy leaf edges. But you also want to take into account as many features as you can. And when all is considered it should be quite clear what you are dealing with.
Also, be sure to check out our guide, “Growing Psychotria Viridis from Seed and Cuttings” http://worldseedsupply.org/blog/?p=27
BUY ROOTED PSYCHOTRIA ALBA LEAF CUTTINGS
Papaver Somniferum (Persian White Poppy)
Capsicum Chinense (Dorset Naga Pepper)
Desmantus Illinoensis (Illinois Bundleflower)
Echinacea Purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Papaver Somniferum (Dutch Poppy Strain)
Papaver Rhoeas (Shirley Poppy)
Petunia Violacea (Shanin)
Glycine Max (Soy Beans)
Salvia Hispanica (Chia)
Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle)
Artemisia Annua (Sweet Wormwood)
Artemisia Absinthium (Wormwood)
Acorus Calamus (Sweet Flag)
Nicotiana Alata (Jasmine Tobacco)
Papaver Somniferum (Turkish Poppy)
People commonly misconceive that cacti can handle the sun without issue. After all, they live in the desert where the strongest sun on earth occurs. How can springtime sun, when the sun is barely gaining strength, do any harm? Well, there are two things you’ll want to keep in mind. The first is that the sun outdoors, even in the shade, even in the spring or fall, is many times stronger than even bright lights. You might feel like you can see better in bright indoor light. However, the total output of energy is much greater outside. After all, we’re talking about the sun here. It powers the entire planet. So any move outdoors is a move to more light.
The other issue you want to keep in mind is that although cacti have an incredible ability to handle sun, it is a capability that has to be turned on. Wild cacti have been outside their entire lives, so the level of sun they are “tuned” to handle is pretty much the same all the time. They never reach the level of darkness that indoor cacti experience. There is variation between seasons, but the overall change is gradual. Wild cacti do scar, but not to the degree that will usually happen if you totally neglect acclimating your cacti before bringing them out.
When you have a cactus that has been indoors all winter, even if it was under bright artificial lights, it is like a person who has been indoors all winter. Did you ever notice how easy it is to get burned early in the summer? It’s not because the sun is stronger early on. It’s because your skin has not yet built up a tolerance to the sun. Cacti (and other plants) are the same way.
A cactus under too much sun can burn in only a matter of minutes. It will usually cause the cactus to quickly discolor. That discoloration will eventually dry out, shrivel and scar, leaving an unsightly rough texture where the nice cactus flesh color had been. Unlike human skin, these scars are permanent. So, how do we avoid this?
The concept of acclimation is very simple. You want to start out with a minimal exposure, both in time and intensity, and gradually increase it over time until your cacti reach their desired location. While conceptually it is simple, it can logistically be a big ordeal depending on the size of your cactus collection. If you have a lot of cacti, the best thing to do is put them in crates or bins so you can transport them more easily. Instead of moving back and forth with each plant, you can carry multiples at once.
It is best to start your acclimation early in the season when the sun is at a lower intensity. But you also want to make sure to do so after the nighttime temperatures are securely above freezing. Find a shady spot in your yard, preferably under a deck or bush. Keep an eye on your plants. If they start to lighten or change in color at all, bring them back indoors immediately. Sometimes it is already too late to prevent scarring once you notice any color change. Usually under a deck or bush will be dark enough that you do not have to keep moving them back and forth between indoors and outdoors. Keep the plants in that spot for about 2 weeks. Next, find another shady spot with slightly more light, and do the same thing. The more levels of shade you can graduate to before reaching your final spot, the better. Sometimes, even after the plants have been outside for a while, you can still do damage when you get to direct sun. So you cannot be too careful if you really want to avoid any harm.
If you lack the extreme shade of underneath a deck or bush, you may have to manipulate your sun exposure with time. In that case, start your cacti in the shadiest available spot for about an hour or so before moving it back inside. The following day, try two hours and continue to lengthen the time. There’s not a set formula in terms of how long to take to do this. It depends on a lot of factors. But the idea is to do it gradually enough for the plant to build up its immunity to the sun before the sun does its damage.
Another thing to consider when acclimating is rain. If your cacti have been in dormancy all winter, it is best for them to be “awake” before they are watered. If you know you are getting any substantial rain within the first week of acclimation, it might be a good idea to bring them in for those periods as well. Otherwise, try to find an overhang or somewhere they won’t get soaked. You might expect that they really need a drink at this point in the season. But let them wake up and get their immune systems in gear before you allow them to drink. Chances are they would still be fine. But you should always have a cautious mentality, especially if you have rare or expensive specimens. Anyone who’s experienced the loss of a few plants they love probably won’t find it hard to think that way. And if you can learn before you have to experience that, then you’re ahead of the game.
As you approach this process, think of it in terms of chemicals that have to build up in the skin of your cacti. It is ironic because you need the sun to activate the production of these chemicals. Yet, if you give them more sun then they are ready for, the very thing they need will harm them. But if you have patience and avoid shortcuts, the payoff will be that you will have the types of specimens that other collectors drool over.
SHOP OUR STORE FOR CACTUS CUTTINGS, LIVE CACTI & SEEDS!
Morning Glories are a classical favorite, and they are the first flowers many new growers start out growing. Morning glories are the ideal starting point for new growers because they are easy to grow, can withstand a wide range of environments and they have amazing coloration. The following guide will outline some basic instructions that can be used for ipomoea tricolor, ipomoea nil and ipomoea purpurea, which includes popular forms such as Heavenly Blue Morning Glory Morning Glory, Flying Saucers, Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory, Pearly Gates and Scarlet O’Hara Morning Glory.
Morning glories can be grown in pots or in the ground. But most growers choose to grow morning glories in the ground because they can take up a lot of root space. On the other hand, growers who do not have ground space, such as urban growers, have no choice. In that case, it is important to select the largest pot possible. You want something that is large enough to grow tomatoes. A two foot diameter pot that is about 1.5 feet high is sufficient. You will also need a good amount of soil to fill this pot.
Morning Glories can grow in most soil types, even poor soils that you might not expect to be good for growing plants. In fact, morning glories actually seem to prefer average soil over very fertile soil. Average soil will give you better flower production in most cases. The soil should also be loose and well-draining. If you’re growing in containers, you want to add extra drainage because containers tend to cause soil to become more compact and less well-draining. Perlite, a type of volcanic glass that resembles little white balls of pumice, is a great additive to potted soils to keep it airy and well-draining. If you’re adding perlite, mix in about ¼ the volume of your total soil mixture. If you do not have perlite, you can also mix in about 1/3 sand. You should avoid soils that are high in clay though because they are most easily compacted.
If you’re growing in the ground, then you might want to prepare your bed in advance. Unprepared ground tends to be compact if you’ve never grown anything in that area. So you just want to till the soil with something such as a shovel or garden hoe to loosen it up a little. Four to five inches is deep enough. If you already have a flower bed or planter, your soil might be loose enough already.
Morning Glories, being a vine, require structure to climb. Morning glories can sprawl out along the ground, but if you have any other plants in the same area, the morning glories are likely to overtake them. When selecting your site, you usually want to utilize the morning glory’s climbing tendency to decorate your landscape. The mailbox is one great place to grow morning glories. Just dig out a small bed around the post of your mailbox and allow your morning glories to climb up and around your box. You may have to train the plants in the beginning to find their way up. But after the first few vines find their way up, the newer vines will use them to latch onto.
Other common structures that people use for growing morning glories include trellis, chain link fences, lattice, gutter leaders, bushes, telephone poles and even wires. If you want to assist your vines in starting up something like a wooden post, you can hammer in a few U-nails and guide the young tips of the plant through them. If you’re growing in containers, you can either place the entire pot near this type of existing structure, or you can use a tomato cage.
Aside from choosing a location that offers structure to climb, sunlight is important. Morning glories can sometimes engulf surrounding plants because they are gluttons when it comes to light. It is best to choose a location in full sun. You can still get plants to grow in less light, but they will usually have fewer blooms. Due to their high light preference, morning glories are usually not grown indoors, although they can be if you use supplemental lighting.
Although morning glories are not usually grown to maturity indoors, it is quite common to start them indoors to get an early start on the season. Morning glories transplant well, and the early start may mean quicker blooming. If you’re in a warmer climate, you are probably better off starting outdoors to keep things simple and keep your windows free for other plants with more pressing needs. However, you may just want to start the seedlings indoors for the first week or two just because it is easier to control germination conditions indoors. In the north, starting indoors will give you a head start and give you something to do while it is still cold outside. But starting indoors is not necessary to get nice morning glory blooms by summer.
Many grow guides suggest pretreatment for your morning glory seeds. Most commonly, these guides recommend nicking the seed coat and soaking the morning glory seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting. These are techniques that are commonly employed for Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds as well. The two flowers are in the same family. But Hawaiian Baby Woodrose has a hard seed coat, and so these techniques are much more appropriate. The morning glory seed coat is much softer, and moisture has no problem penetrating. We have soaked morning glory seeds in water, and in many cases they sprouted within a day without any nicking. So these experiences combined with the fact that nicking is done to allow moisture to penetrate hard seed coats and the fact that morning glory seeds have a soft seed coat, there is no reason to nick the seeds.
Soaking morning glory seeds will allow the seeds to germinate right away in the water at room temperature. This is obviously beneficial for maximizing and speeding up germination. But the seedlings can sometimes be waterlogged from this method, which may lead to more seedlings rotting later on. If you germinate your morning glory seeds in a container of moist seed starting soil, you should still end up with about the same germination rate with less risk of rotting. Just sow them at a depth of ¼”. But usually a pack of morning glory seeds is enough for the average grower anyway so that it does not make much difference which way you start them. With that in mind, you might as well go with what you find easier. What’s most important to realize is that despite nicking and soaking being part of most morning glory growing instructions, these steps are entirely optional.
If you’ve decided to pre-sprout your morning glory seeds you will need to transplant them. You can sow them directly in the ground. But you might be better off letting them take hold in pots indoors. As mentioned previously, it is easier to control conditions indoors. Sometimes the surface of the soil outside might dry out causing your morning glory seedlings to die, even though they’ve sprouted already. Instead, try keeping your seedlings indoors until they develop their first set of true leaves. The first set of leaves sort of resembles dragon fly wings. The true leaves are the set that follows those. Plant your sprouted morning glory seeds with the root facing down with a spacing of about 2” apart. Keep them in a well-lit (preferably south-facing) window until they develop true leaves.
When it’s time to move your morning glories outside, don’t move them into the ground right away. Instead, move the pot outside in a shady area where the soil is not likely to dry out. Leave them there for a few days. Keep an eye on the seedlings just to make sure they are adjusting to the harsh world of the outdoors. If you see any signs of wilting, you can bring them back in until they recover. Try moving them back out again the following day, and repeat the process if necessary. Morning glories are rather hardy though, so they usually acclimate just fine. After a few days outside, transplant them to the ground once the sun has started to go down.
Morning glories are a very low maintenance plant. Once they’re in the ground, the plants will pretty much grow themselves. Morning glories do not require any fertilization. Early on, you should keep them well-watered. But usually rain water will be enough once the plants are established. That is not to say you cannot water them more often. It is just saying that you can get away without much maintenance. You may want to guide the growing tips up whatever structure you’ve provided. But otherwise, you can just sit back and enjoy.
In the fall, you can collect your morning glory seeds. After the flowers fall off, they will be replaced by a capsule, which usually contains 4-6 seeds. It is important to wait until the capsules turn brown and crispy before harvesting the seeds. Otherwise, your morning glory seeds will be immature and shrivel up upon drying. The mature seeds should basically be dry, but it may be a good idea just to place them in a dry area for a week before storing them. The seeds do not mature all at once. You can keep harvesting from the first ripening until the plant dies. But in many cases, depending on your location and the species, morning glories will reseed themselves in the area that you planted.
SHOP OUR STORE FOR HEAVENLY BLUE MORNING GLORIES & MORE
Starting Inside vs Outside
Poppies can be grown indoors under lights, but the majority of growers grow them outside. In general, the poppy is considered an outdoor plant. So that is what this guide will focus on. It is common practice with many plant varieties to start seeds indoors as a method of getting a head start on the growing season. The idea behind this is that you can use the warmth of your house to begin the growing process when outdoor temperatures are otherwise unsuitable. However, poppies actually tolerate more cold than other plants. In fact, poppies prefer the cool weather. In some cases, they may even require cool temperatures to germinate. While most of the time poppies will germinate throughout the summer, we have also encountered many cases where growers could not get poppy seeds to germinate until temperatures were reduced. So if you are starting your poppy seeds later in the season, you may actually want to try the reverse practice of getting a head start. In other words, you may actually try rewinding the clock back to the cooler months by starting your poppy seeds in the fridge. This will give your poppies a chance to experience that cool period they like even after the time has passed for it to happen naturally.
The drawback of starting poppy seeds indoors is that they can easily etiolate (stretch) if not given adequate light. Etiolation is a plant’s response to low light. It stretches in height hoping to reach up out of a crevice or over competing plants in search of more light. Many newbie growers will be excited that their plants are rapidly gaining height when this happens, but the quick growth comes at a price. In order to output more height, the plant has to sacrifice thickness. This ultimately results in an unstable foundation for the plant to stand on. Poppies grow as rosettes of lettuce-like foliage. But if there is etiolation early on, that big mass of foliage will only be connected to the ground by a thin tap root, which can easily snap and cut off the supply of water and nutrients. Etiolation is especially common indoors, particularly in a dark fridge. So, other than for the sake of providing cooler temperatures later in the season, it is recommended that growers sow their poppies outdoors.
When to Sow Outside
Outdoor sowing time for poppies depends on your location. In areas where the winters are relatively mild (zones 7 or warmer), it is best to sow your poppy seeds in the fall or winter. This will allow the seeds to sprout as soon as the temperatures turn warm enough for poppies to do their thing. The ideal poppy germination temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Poppy seeds and even poppy seedlings can handle frost, but most information recommends sowing poppy seeds in the early spring for growers in northern locations. Fall planting is recommended when possible so that you have the seeds in place, but growers in warmer locations can still sow in the spring with plenty of time before conditions turn ideal. The idea is you want to try to get in as soon as the ground is workable so that you have the longest season possible. The exposure to cold may also aid germination. But if you missed fall sowing, don’t let it discourage you from aiming for the spring no matter where you live.
Mature poppies enjoy full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sun per day. You can still get flowers in partial sun, but they will be smaller. But early on, a bit of shade may actually be beneficial. According to one traditional method, poppies were planted between rows of corn so that they could be shaded by the stalks. Starting poppy plants in containers allows you to keep the seedlings in a shaded area early on while providing full sun later in the growth cycle. But if you’re direct sowing, you can always shade your poppy seedlings with other crops, potted plants or even with something like a lawn chair. Anything that will cast a shadow will help mimic the shade that young plants might experience in the wild. When you eventually increase the sun exposure for your mature poppy plants, it is best to do it gradually. Any sudden increases in light exposure always have the chance of shocking a plant. And if you chose to start your poppy seedlings in containers, be sure to get them used to the full sun environment they will be in before you attempt to transplant. The combination of transplanting and light increase is a recipe for shock. If it does not kill your poppies, it could cause serious setbacks.
Direct Sowing vs. Containers
Most information suggests that poppies do not transplant well. This is true for mature plants, especially because the stems and roots can be somewhat brittle. But poppy seedlings transplant perfectly fine if you do so properly. Considering this, you have the choice between direct sowing or sowing in containers and then transplanting. If you’ve started your poppies indoors, then you’ll obviously be transplanting. But you can also choose to start poppy seeds in containers outside and transplant those seedlings to the ground.
You might wonder what the point of sowing outdoors in containers instead of direct sowing is. There are several advantages actually. Transplanting works better for organization. You can arrange your poppy plants specifically where you want them whereas direct sowing can give you a more erratic pattern. The only way around it with direct sowing is if you really sow a lot of poppy seeds and then thin out to exactly where you want each poppy positioned. But ultimately you will waste more seed doing it that way. If you have plenty of seed to work with or you do not care about arrangement, then direct sowing is the way to go. Otherwise, the increased ability to organize is useful. This is especially apparent if you’re dealing with multiple poppy varieties or other flowers that you want to arrange in a certain pattern.
Transplanting also offers you a chance to escape insects and weather. If you’re starting your poppies in a container you have the option of keeping the seedlings out of harm’s way, whether the threat is too much sun, a rain storm or a windy day. Ants, other insects and birds are known to carry away poppy seeds too. Just like humans, animals enjoy eating poppy seeds. While containers can still be occupied by ants, the ground is more likely to house a colony that will walk away with your crop before it ever sprouts. It is much easier to keep a container out of harm’s way.
Just like insects, wind or rain can ruin your direct sowing job. Even though the seeds are very tiny, wind usually won’t be too much of a problem unless there are unusual gusts. But rain is very likely to wash poppy seeds away. Poppy seeds float easily. And even your normal watering can cause seeds to pool together and sprout in the depressions of your ground space. So even if the seeds don’t get completely washed away, you end up having to thin out more than you intended. Containers give you the option to make adjustments that direct sowing does not. For one, you can move the containers into a protected area when you’re anticipating bad weather. Also, transplanting allows you to correct any type of pooling that might occur.
Choosing Soil and Preparing Your Poppy Bed
Now that you’ve considered when and where you want to plant your poppy seeds, it’s time to consider soil. You want a soil that is very fertile with plenty of organic material. But it is also essential that it be loose and well-draining. Poppy seedlings are prone to rot when they are young, so a well-draining mix will be beneficial to prevent that. A good loamy soil such as compost mixed with sand is ideal. Some types of poppy naturally grow in dry gravelly soils, but even they will benefit from this more fertile alternative.
It is important that your soil be loose when you’re growing poppies. Poppies have a taproot that needs to drive downward, and a compact soil will make this tougher to do. So prior to sowing, it is important that you prepare your poppy bed. Even if you’re starting your poppy seeds in containers, you still want to prepare your ground. Till the soil 8” deep over your entire bed to loosen it up and remove any weed roots that may be present. Otherwise, if you’re starting a new bed, you can till the ground below and add a thick layer of fresh soil over the top. Either way, you want to aim for 8” of cultivated soil for your poppy roots to grow in.
Direct sow your seeds by scattering them over the surface of your prepared poppy bed. Aim to broadcast them so that they do not all land too closely together, or you will end up having to thin out seedlings anyway. Poppy seeds are extremely small, so consider that a pinch contains literally hundreds of seeds. Not every poppy seed will sprout, and not every sprout will mature, but you do not have to sow as densely as you would with grass seed. Afterwards, cover your entire growing space with a thin layer of straw about 1”-2” thick as a mulch layer. We will speak more about mulching later.
Starting in Containers
If you’re starting your poppy seedlings in a container, it is best to use one that is wide. Aluminum roasting pans are ideal for starting your poppy seeds. You can fill the pan with a seed starting mix, or you can use the same soil that you’ll eventually be growing in. Lay the soil flat, but do not compress it. With your index finger, make light depressions about a half inch apart in rows with the same spacing. Then sow your poppy seeds on the surface of the soil without covering them. As mentioned earlier, poppy seeds have a tendency to float and collect in the depressions. By intentionally making the depressions yourself, you can help determine where the poppy seeds will end up and therefore create a more uniform spacing.
As an alternative to the aluminum tray method, some growers prefer to grow in biodegradable peat pots. With this method, you only plant a few seeds per pot. This allows you to transplant the entire pot to the ground so that you can avoid root damage altogether. The roots can grow through the pot after transplanting. You can aid transplantation even more if you tear off the bottom, and you can even tear away the entire pot if the roots haven’t grown into it. One of the drawbacks of using these pots over the tray is that they can dry out easier outdoors. So it is important to keep them regularly hydrated from below.
Your poppy seedlings will grow together like grass. Allow them to grow as a network until they are about 2”-3” in height. But before you even begin, consider the time of day. Transplanting is always best done in the late afternoon after the weather has cooled. This will give your poppy seedlings the longest time before they have to face the strong noon sun. You never want to transplant during the hot part of the day because plants already can be stressed out by the heat. Even on a day that seems cold, the sun can still have a lot of effect ton seedlings. Young plants or those with damaged roots are especially vulnerable, and they can fry quickly. Transplanting during the morning is better than transplanting at noon, but it still means they will have to face the noon sun within a few hours. But if you transplant late in the day, it gives your seedlings all night and the next morning to recuperate. Just be sure to water your poppy bed the following morning so they are well-hydrated for their first brush with the noon sun after transplantation.
This raises another point. You always want to make sure your seedlings are well-hydrated before transplanting. Just like making cuttings, transplanting offers a situation that may decrease the plant’s ability to absorb water. So you want to make sure your reserves are fully stocked ahead of time. Always be sure to fully water your poppy seedling tray about an hour before actually doing any transplanting. This will give the poppies adequate time to suck up what they need before the process begins.
We mentioned before that poppies have a reputation for being difficult to transplant. The key to transplanting properly involves doing so at a young age and not damaging the roots. In order to minimize damage to the poppy’s roots, detach a small clump of poppy seedlings from the main network that you’ll have growing in your tray. This will help you gather all the soil around one or two central plants in the middle. The plants on the outside will suffer more damage, leaving the plants in the middle relatively protected. Using an aluminum tray for germination also allows you to go all the way to the bottom so that you can gather all of the soil below the plants without damaging the lower roots.
Next, dig a hole in your prepared poppy bed that is about twice the size of your root ball and bury your clumps in small mounds that are spaced about 12”-18”. Most people plant in rows, but feel free to adapt this spacing to a particular pattern or design that you have in mind. Once the clumps have adjusted to the ground, you want to keep the soil a little on the dry side. At this point, you will also want to thin out each clump, leaving only the best poppy plants to survive.
Whether you’re transplanting or direct sowing, it is a very good idea to mulch your bed with some straw. Mulching will help your transplants adapt because it will minimize evaporation from the soil. For a detailed explanation on the benefits of mulching, you can refer to our article, “Why Mulch?” http://worldseedsupply.org/blog/?p=105 . But to describe briefly, mulching will help maintain proper soil moisture, help shade young poppy seedlings and help keep your poppy seeds in place during watering or rain. Many people neglect this step, but it can really make a difference in your success. If aesthetics are a concern, there are various mulches you can buy. Otherwise, straw is inexpensive and works great as mulch. You simply want to cover the entire area between your poppy plants with about a 1”-2” layer of straw. Mulch right up to the stems of each poppy plant. As the poppies grow larger, you can thicken the layer. Ultimately, you should find that this small step makes a difference in your results and cuts down on the effort you will need to put into growing.
Crowded poppies must compete for space and will ultimately suffer. Whether you’re direct sowing or you transplanted clumps of poppy seedlings, you ultimately want to thin out your plant population to reduce competition. Thinning involves plucking out the competitor plants and leaving only the best poppies to grow to maturity. Young poppy seedlings will appear as small rosettes that some people compare to lettuce. At about 2”-3” in height, you want to start thinning out your poppy seedlings. Early on, poppies can grow fine together, so you do not need to pluck every one right away. But that is the 2-3” mark is a good time to start the process. If you’re direct sowing, you’ll have a lot more thinning to do than if you’ve transplanted. But you will ultimately aim for a final spacing of about 12”-18”. By the time your poppy seedlings are 4”-5”, you should have a good idea of which ones to thin out and which to leave. So that is the point when you should have thinned out your bed to the target spacing. But whereas many growers tend to thin all at once, we suggest a more making-space-as-needed approach until the 4”-5” mark so that you can keep selecting from the best performing poppies.
Poppy plants are somewhat prone to rotting, so they should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Mature plants only need to be watered every several days, especially if you’re mulching. It is also recommended that you water away from the stem to keep rot to a minimum and to help the roots spread out. Consider using a soaker hose. Otherwise, if you’re manually watering, try putting the hose to the ground to soak the soil rather than spraying. Once the petals have fallen off your poppies, it is common to hold back watering unless the plant appears to be drying out. This will ensure that the plant and seeds do not rot until they can be harvested.
Poppies prefer a neutral ph. Use a fertilizer with a neutral ph to ensure that the ph does not fall below 6. Most growers use organic fertilizers such as bloodmeal or an organic liquid fertilizer. Begin fertilization when the plants are about 10” tall. A fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which is the middle number in the ratio found on fertilizer packaging, is ideal for poppies. The nitrogen level, which is the first number, should be comparatively low. Fertilize your poppies according to the instructions on the packaging of the fertilizer you’re using.
Each poppy pod can produce hundreds, usually thousands of poppy seeds. When the crown on the poppy pod stands up and the pod takes on a chalky texture, it is time to harvest. You can cut the poppy pods from the stems and let them dry in the sun or in a dry area such as a boiler room. When the poppy pods are dry, cut off the crowns with a pair of scissors. This will open the top so you can pour out and collect the poppy seeds. After gathering your whole poppy seed harvest, run it through a strainer to sift out all the broken pod parts. Even if you’ve harvested a few pods, you should have plenty of seed to grow again the following year. But just like you thinned out your crop to select the best plants, you should focus your poppy seed collecting on just the best plants.
SHOP OUR STORE FOR MANY POPPY SEED TYPES
Mandrake seeds have a reputation for being stubborn germinators. In general, nightshade plants frequently have this trait. When it comes to Mandrake germination, the process is entirely predicated on temperature fluctuations. The seasonal temperature fluctuations trigger the seeds to germinate. It is common for species of the Northern Hemisphere to germinate based on a rise from cool temps to warmer temps. This has led to a germination technique that is called stratification. Stratification works by placing the seeds in the fridge for a period of several weeks to several months in an attempt to simulate winter. To stratify your mandrake seeds, take a ziplock or other container of moist sand and place your mandrake seeds inside before placing the container in the fridge. You can use moist paper towels instead of sand, but paper has a higher tendency to grow mold. Mold can usually be wiped off without killing the seed, but it is obviously something you want to avoid when possible. Even moist soil will work for this process, but sand has the lowest tendency for mold.
After about a month in the fridge, move your mandrake seeds to a warmer location and plant in a loose, fertile well-draining soil. Compost works very well. The subsequent act of planting the seeds in a warmer temperature acts as a seasonal change that triggers the plant’s temperature response, causing the seed to germinate. But what is interesting about mandrake is that the temperature fluctuation seems to work in the opposite way as well. We’ve noticed a trend of mandrake seeds planted in the early spring germinating in the following fall if they failed to sprout that spring. Occasionally, they will even wait until the spring of the following year to germinate. So it is important not to discard or reuse the soil if you didn’t get 100% germination because it will still contain seeds with the potential for germination.
Another method for triggering temperature responsive germination in seeds is what we call winter sowing. Winter sowing simply involves sowing the seeds outdoors during the cooler weather and allowing the natural temperature fluctuation to trigger the seed’s temperature response. In that case, you can plant the seeds in the ground or in the soil that they will ultimately grow in. Preferably, you want a location with full sun to partial shade. There is no need to harden the plants off when you winter sow, and the roots will not be disturbed by transplantation. Since winter sowing relies on cool temperatures, growers in the warmer zones must resort to stratification. But otherwise, this is our preferred method with mandrake. It was in our trials with winter sowing mandrake seeds that we noticed the tendency of the seeds to germinate in subsequent temperature fluctuations aside from just the initial one. This phenomenon likely works as a species preservation mechanism. In the event that a plant does not reach maturity or set seed, it still has backup genetics on deck that are ready to sprout.
You will find that mandrake generally does better in the cool or at least mild weather. Personal experience and conversations with other mandrake growers have both dictated that warmer temperatures can sometimes correlate with the plant suffering. In several instances, we’ve had plants lose their leaves. But what is important to know about mandrake is that the root is the life of the plant. As long as the root is living, the leaves have a good chance of returning. We have had plants that we thought died during summer return to life in the fall when the weather cooled down a bit. What actually took place was that the leaves had died back while the root stayed alive below the soil. Although it appeared that the plants were gone, the living taproot held enough life to allow the foliage to return.
In another instance, we had some indoor plants that lost their leaves. In this case, it seemed that the reason had to do with an improper root depth. It is important that the mandrake root not be too deeply buried, or the stems of the leaves will be in greater contact with the soil. If you get any standing moisture, they can easily rot at the stem, causing the entire leaf to die. As mentioned earlier, a well-draining soil is imperative. It may be beneficial to put a layer of gravel or perlite at the top in order to improve the drainage specifically where the leaf stems are while allowing the majority of the taproot below to have access to a soil medium that holds a bit more moisture. Lighting also plays a factor because plants grown in lower lighting conditions will have thinner stems that could rot or snap more easily. But an ideal planting depth is one where the top of the taproot is about even with the soil. The taproot may sit slightly above the soil line as well, but you do not want it too far above because it can put extra tension on the stems, which is more of a problem with thinner leaf stems. As you can imagine, there are numerous factors that could lead to leaf loss. But in all cases we’ve experienced, new foliage was able to grow from a healthy taproot, even when all prior leaves had fallen off. So again, it is important to know that the root truly is the life of the plant when it comes to mandrake.
Indoor temperatures are usually fine for mandrake since they are mild. You can grow mandrake fairly easily indoors as long as you use artificial lighting. Window lighting is probably insufficient and will lead to thin leaf stems. But a fixture containing two T5 fluorescents is sufficient to support mandrake plants over the winter. However, you should also remember that mandrake is frost hardy. So if you have ground space, there is no need to bring them in for the winter. Depending on your living situation, this may just be a good plant if your indoor growing real estate is already occupied. And while mandrake may seem like a challenging species to grow, it is important to remember that there is leeway…both in the way that you can still expect germination even from seeds that did not originally sprout and in the way you can still squeeze life from a root that may otherwise seem tapped out.
SHOP OUR STORE FOR MANDRAKE SEEDS
With the exception of the fact that the seedlings start out so tiny, heimia is a very easy plant to grow and is good for beginning growers. It can be grown easily indoors and will tolerate a wide range of environments.
GROWING FROM SEED
Heimia seeds are extremely small, like dust. In nature, the wind would carry Heimia seeds, dropping them on the surface of the soil, where they would eventually sprout. No amount of burying is necessary. It is also a general cultivation rule that the size of the seeds determines how deep the seed should be buried. In the case of really tiny seeds, they should be surfaced sowed, meaning that they should simply be pressed into the surface of the soil allowing light to reach them. Before sowing the seeds, make sure the soil is misted lightly so that the seeds have available moisture to absorb.
After sowing, you want to cover the container with a piece of clear plastic to seal in the humidity. If the soil is moist enough and you mist regularly, they will grow without the plastic, but it makes life much easier. Plus, with the plastic on, you may not have to water because the evaporating water will condense on the plastic and drop back to the soil. If at any point you notice the soil is drying out, simply remove the plastic and mist the soil with a fine mister. This will occur more often if your temperature is higher. Be sure to add the correct amount of water to your soil and then remove the excess water collected on your plastic so that it doesn’t drop back into the soil and cause too much soil moisture. Although mature plants will take as much water as you can give them, I have an unconfirmed suspicion that the seeds can be drowned. A temperature of about 70 degrees F should be fine. Using florescent lights or placing in front of a sunny window will both work for germination and plant growth.
From seed until it is a few inches high, Heimia S. grows painfully slow. Let them take as long as they need. It won’t continue like this forever. In the meantime, just keep the plastic on and make sure the soil stays moist. Be sure to mist if needed. When the seedlings are about 1/2″-3/4″ you can take the plastic off. Continue to keep the soil very moist. At 2 1/2″ it is an ideal time to transplant.
The soil you use in the new pots should be similar to the soil you used for germinating. Have your pots set up beforehand so that you can quickly transfer the seedlings without them spending much time in the open air. When transplanting, the most important thing to consider is to disturb the roots as little as possible. You’re most likely going to have a million roots tangled together, so some disturbance will inevitably occur. Some gentle prodding with a fork might be useful to help separate the roots.
Keep the seedlings out of any intense light and heat as they are especially vulnerable after transplanting. If at any point you notice wilting, make sure to water and put a plastic baggie over them to seal in humidity. You should keep this continually moist. Heimia plants are amazingly resilient to wilting, but they enjoy as much water as you can give them. Heimia Salicifolia, once established, will prefer partial sun. If under-watered, H. Salicifolia plants will wilt drastically, looking as if they are dead. They may also drop leaves. If you catch it within the first day of this you can almost always bring it back by saturating the soil. Any dead material should be cut back, which will result in a fuller plant.
Heimia plants can be reproduced by cuttings from mature plants. But since heimia tends to have woody stems, they can be a little tougher to root than other Mexican entheogens like calea zacatechichi or salvia divinorum. To minimize the difficulty of the process, it is best to select the newest growth because it is likely to be the softest. Soft growth roots easier than woody growth. You also want to use a rooting hormone, which can be either a commercial rooting hormone or a natural tea made of white willow bark (salix alba). Commercial rooting hormones typically contain indole-3-butyric acid and can be found in powder or gel form. The gel is preferred since it sticks to the stem even in water.
Another trick with rooting heimia salicifolia is to remove all but the top few leaves. This will lighten the load on the plant because it will not have to support so many leaves. A cutting that has been cut from the support of the roots on a mother plant is like a parent that has lost his or her job. By sending the kids off to live with grandma, or by trimming off some of the leaves in the cutting’s case, the parent has a better chance of surviving on savings and what little money he or she can scrounge without a formal income. So in those terms, the cutting can live on stored water and what little water it can draw up through its unrooted stem. Soft stems usually absorb water quicker, which is probably one reason why they tend to be easier to root than woody stems. For more detailed information on rooting plant cutting, including types of rooting mediums, please visit our article, How to Root Plant Cuttings http://worldseedsupply.org/blog/?p=124
SHOP OUR STORE FOR HEIMIA SALICIFOLIA SEEDS & MORE