Thursday, August 14, 2014
Cardinal Flower From Seed
Cardinal Flower is truly a native plant. Early explorers sent samples collected in the Saint Lawrence River valley back to France where it received its common name. Despite its initial discovery well north of our location, we have encountered problems wintering it over. Some of our Winter cold air rolls down from the high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains creating a sliver that is a zone colder than the surrounding areas. In addition to the extreme cold, we are gardening atop a deep glacial gravel deposit that is on occasion nearly desert dry. Cardinal flower prefers to grow near streams where a constant source of moisture is nearby. Despite the dryness and the cold, the plant survives here but only in small numbers.
This photo almost clearly shows the final form of an individual flower. Later in the day the white "eyes" will extend outward above the five red petals. Unopened neighbors keep this picture uncluttered and that is not usually the case. If the photo had been snapped later in the day, the buds would have opened and finding a single flower would then be nearly impossible.
We have encountered several written descriptions of the ease in propagating Cardinal Flower from seed. Some how we have always weeded out the seedlings since we did not know what they looked like. Dumb luck may have changed that. These weeds were spared on the chance that they are new Cardinal Flowers. Their leaf form does not closely resemble mature plants but they do have the white stringy root mass encountered with adults. We will watch and perhaps learn. If these are as expected, they will flower in their second year. If we can just remember what we may have discovered, then Cardinal Flower may become more common here.