Seed Cups and Plant Selection

Christy Brigham


Thanks for the great workshop last week in Austin. It was a pleasure meeting all of you and hearing all of your great ideas!

I just wanted to pass along a couple of thoughts I had after the workshop that might be of use to other First Bloom participants.

For groups that will be using ecocups with their students - you might want to consider having students plant both seeds and seedlings in different cups. Many seeds (some might say most) have a relatively low germination rate and thus planting a seed or even several seeds may not result in an actual plant. You can get an idea of the germination rate if you purchase seed by looking at the number for pure live seed. If this number is low, you might want to have the students place many seeds in a single cup (like 5-10 depending on Pure Live Seed amount) OR have them both plant a seed and a seedling in two different cups.

This should reduce John’s experience of dead plants or no emergence killing one’s joy in growing plants. Also this is an opportunity to talk to students about what a seed is, why many of them don’t germinate (seed bank and/or unfilled seeds resulting from unpollinated flowers or not enough resources), and compare and contrast plants and animals (plants typically have low investment in a single offspring (seed) while animals have both high resource investment per individual (e.g., humans, elephants) and low resource investment (e.g., mice)).

If you use the wildflower center’s wonderful webpage to select native plants for your garden, please double check your species list with a local expert (like your NPS liaison or a local native plant society). While this website is awesome, it is very general. For example, many of the species listed for southern California do not grow in the Santa Monica Mountains or anywhere near here. While this generality is fine for many home gardeners, it is insufficient for national parks.

Good luck with your projects and I look forward to keeping in touch,