Propagating wildflowers and shrubs from seed can be a long process. Some species, like Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon Seal) and Actaea racemosa (Solomon Plume), require two years to emerge. In the nursery, we break the seeds’ dormancy by sowing them in trays and exposing them to the natural alternating of warm and cold temperatures. Then the seedlings can take several more years to become of transplanting or blooming size. Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells), Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit), Jeffersonia diphylla (Twinleaf), Delphinium tricorne (Dwarf Larkspur), Dicentra eximia (Dutchman’s Breeches), and Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star), spend two to three seasons in propagating trays before being stepped up to individual containers. The same is true for the native Rhododendron species. Trillium species may bloom for the fist time after five to seven years from seed.
I hope that knowing how old those delicate wildflowers may be that brighten our southern woodlands will help us appreciate them more and protect their fragile environment.