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Growing E. cordifolius


I've been trying to grow E. cordifolius (Rubin swords) from seed.  I
thought I'd let y'all know how things are going so far.

Last summer my emersed E. cordifolius bloomed and produced (through self
fertility) hundreds and hundreds of seeds, which I allowed to cure on
the plant, then stripped off and stored in an envelope over the winter. 
Also, some time last summer I guess some seeds fell into a shallow tray
that I was using to grow out some E. cordifolius plantlets that sprouted
off the flower spikes.

This spring I set up planters to start the seed.  I mixed some of Karl
Schoeler's Substrate Gold with sandy garden soil (sterilized in a
microwave oven) and peat, along with enough water to make thick mud.  I
poured about an inch of that mess into two deli trays (clear plastic,
about 10" square and 4" deep with a snap-down lid).  I scattered ~200
seeds into each tray and snapped them shut.  I put the trays in front of
windows were they could get a few hours/day of direct sunlight and
sprayed them daily with distilled water to keep the (aromatic) muck wet.

The experience so far has been consistent with what I was lead to expect
last fall when I brought this up on the list.  The seeds started to
germinate after two weeks.  They are continuing to germinate and now
four weeks after planting there are still new plants appearing now and
then.  The fertility rate is low.  So far I have 5 seedlings sprouted in
one tray (the one that gets the most sunlight) and 2 seedlings in the

I once fertilized both trays with a little dilute solution of potassium
nitrate, but they have received no other fertilization.  I'll probably
repeat that again tommorrow.

The seedlings grew to about a half inch in diameter, with just a couple
grass-like leaves.  So far all of them seem to be stalled at that point.

The seeds that fell into the grow-out tray are a slightly different
story.  Seedlings started appearing last fall, probably a couple months
after the latest date when the seeds could have fallen into the tray. 
Seedlings appeared now and then all winter, but none lasted long before
they dropped their leaves (I found them floating in the tray) and
disappeared.  One seedling held on for quite a while, but never got much
more than a half inch in diameter with 4 or 5 leaves.  Last week I took
it out of the grow-out tray and planted it with the other seedlings.  It
seems to be doing well, but without much new growth.

Has anyone else done this and observed the stall in growth in
seedlings?  I wonder if this might be a natural growth pattern.  A long
dormancy would be similar to the pattern in biennial weeds that sprout
in the fall, winter over in a dormant state the grow again in the

When I do this again there will be a few things I do differently.

Growing the plants under water didn't work very well. The water was
unheated and had no supplemental CO2, and I'm probably never going to do
those things just to get some seeds started.

Next time around I'll let the soil mix sit and firm-up for a couple days
before I try planting in it.  Then, instead of just sprinkling seeds
loosely on the soil, I'll use a flat tool of some sort to press the
seeds into the soil without burying them.

I stored the seeds for several months.  Next time I'll try planting some
without waiting.  Maybe those will have a better germination rate. 
Also, I hope to get a second plant flowering; maybe cross-pollination
will give more viable seeds.

I wonder about using a different sort of tray to start the seedlings. 
The deli trays provide a hotbox effect.  I worried that they might get
too hot for the plants to survive.  Maybe putting some vents into the
snap-down lid would let them take more light without over heating and
without losing too much water.

Anyone have ideas or experience they can contribute?

Roger Miller