(to my house)
by Carolyn Henderson
A Turks Cap with pink flowers was planted at the El Camino Real Master Naturalist
Wildscape last year. Due to its prolific growth, which was over six feet tall and wide, and it
being covered in many pink flowers, it was the wonder of the season, including with me.
I was determined to grow some myself! Catherine Johnson, site manager, felt
compelled to give me a “baby” plant that had sprouted up under the big plant just in
case my attempt to grow some from seeds didn’t pan out. I should point out that a few
“baby plants” of another species had not made it at my house.
One of the reasons I really liked this plant was that it likes shade. It can grow large even
if it’s in the shade most of the day. My front yard was covered in shade all day long due
to some very tall and old Live Oaks that run across my front yard. Notice I said “was.” It
is not quite as covered now. The freeze/ice of 2021 and freeze/lots of ice of 2023 has
severely pruned those trees to the point of blue sky now being visible when one looks
I have planted a few other things from the Wildscape that are alleged to be shade
tolerant, and they are to a degree, but they are stunted in growth by too much shade. A
Flame Acanthus reached about 12 inches tall and finally put on two blooms last year.
This pink-flowered Turks Cap was in shade for a good part of the day, and it grew like
crazy. It did get chicken poop fertilizer, so that probably helped.
So, I took about 10 of the small, red apple-looking seed pods late last fall. I did some
research on how to grow them from seeds and proceeded to try all versions. There
were basically three different methods suggested by different people.
First, it was suggested to stick the whole seed pod in the ground. I did two in that
manner. I put one in the ground and one in a small potting container. Neither has come
Second, it was suggested to open the seed pods, remove the seeds and clean them of
any of the pod then dry them in the sun. After the drying, it was suggested to pot them
in very small containers and put them in the sun. I did eight in this manner. I started
them inside in a window that doesn’t get much sun. The weather was staying pretty
moderate, so I moved them outside. I watered them periodically, and left them out
during the freeze. Nothing has sprouted yet.
Third, follow the cleaning advice in the second version, then put them in an airtight bag
in the refrigerator for the duration of winter. I used a zip lock bag. Plant them in late
February or early March. Two weeks ago, I purchased a container made for starting
seeds that would fit on my kitchen window – the only window that is accessible and gets
several hours of sun in my house. I took some dirt from the empty flower bed where I
intend to plant them if they grow and planted them. I dropped several seeds into each
section of the container. I had seeds left, too. This window is in my kitchen, so I’m
paying close attention to them.
My first positive sign of growth was the “baby plant” that I put in a large flowerpot last
year. It is back! I should note that it is in a sunnier area.
My eureka moment came on Tuesday this week! One of the refrigerator seeds has
sprouted. I excitedly yelled “Yea!”, which caused my son to come into the room to see
what was wrong with me. He reminded me that I had not invented something new. But I
had grown it from a refrigerated seed.
I’m hoping it really will like all the tree shade in my front yard.