Success with growing Pink Turk’s Caps from seed is looking more possible every day. I now have seven growing from seeds that wintered in the refrigerator. Then I was surprised to find that the one whole seed pod I planted in the ground last November had come up. I had flagged the site, so I could remember exactly where I put it.
So, they will come up from a baby plant planted in the fall, seeds that have been removed from the red pod covering, cleaned, dried, and refrigerated over the winter, and a whole pod placed in a flower bed in the fall. The only version that didn’t produce plants were the cleaned and dried seeds planted in the fall in containers and left outside.
Now, I’m waiting to get them a little larger, so I can transplant them to the mostly shaded flower bed.
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 up.
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 up yet.
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.