Growing West Australian Native Annuals
The best sowing time in temperate Australia is Autumn to early Winter when the weather has cooled down. In a garden situation many can also be sown later in winter or even early spring, however, the flowering season is usually shorter.
If you have had success in growing other plants from seed then we probably can't tell you much, other than to pay close attention to sowing depth. If, on the other hand you have not grown from seed before - read on.
Prepare the ground by removing any weeds, coarse mulch or other debris.
Water to wet the soil, using a wetting agent if necessary, and leave for a week or so to allow weed seeds to germinate before raking again to remove the weed seedlings and leave small furrows on the surface.
Mix the seed with spreading agent such as sand, sawdust or dried coffee grounds, water the soil again and scatter the mix sparingly over the area on a still day.
Be very careful when raking the seeds in because many may finish up too deep in the soil where they won't germinate. Our best results have come from a gentle and thorough watering instead which locks the seeds to the soil but doesn't bury them. In their natural environment these seeds germinate on, or very close to, the surface.
The area should then be kept moist until the seeds have germinated.
We strongly recommend controlling slugs and snails within a few days of sowing by whatever method suits you best. Slugs, snails and slaters are particularly fond of emerging seedlings cleaning them up every night and making it seem that the seeds never germinated.
While all our seeds can be direct sown, they can also all be sown into containers. Fine seeds in particular, such as Angianthus tomentosus, Gnephosis arachnoidea Myriocephalus oldfieldii, Podolepis lessonii and Waitzia nitida are easier to manage when sown into seed trays first and transplanted later.
Sowing into Containers
Seeds can be sown in seed trays, pots or any other free draining container that is 10 cm or more deep. This depth of soil ensures that the developing root system is less restricted and the mix stays damp for longer. Using recycled seedling trays might seem like a good idea but they dry out very quickly.
Use a free draining soil mix such as 50/50 seed raising mix (or fine coir) and river (sharp) sand. Make a depression in the top and sow the seed on the surface. Most will germinate if left on the surface as long as the soil stays damp. Covering the seed with a thin layer of soil mix or sand will help.
You can use your garden soil instead of purchased mixes. It will be the same as direct sowing - complete with weeds!
Seedtrays should be kept moist during germination but not covered which encourages fungal diseases like damping off.
Under natural circumstances only a proportion of seed will germinate. This is a mechanism that ensures that if there is a good start to the season but it later dries off quickly, there will still be some seed left in the soil for the future. One of the consequences of cultivating these plants is that we have selected for first year germination and thus raised that proportion. Despite this not all the seeds will germinate the first year.
None of our range requires any pre-sowing treatment.
Seedlings can be transplanted when they have more than 8 pairs of true leaves or when they are large enough to handle.
The usual guidelines for transplanting apply.
These plants have evolved to make the most of every opportunity. They respond to fertiliser by growing very rapidly, but the growth is usually soft, floppy and easily damaged.
If you have any reasonable soil we recommend not using any fertiliser at all or, at the most, just using a few granules of a general purpose, controlled release fertiliser. We do not recommend the use of blood and bone or specially formulated native plant fertilisers.
Sun or Shade?
Where known we have stated the preference for each species. Generally plants grown in full sun are healthier although they may need more frequent watering during prolonged dry spells.
Under natural circumstances these plants grow and survive on natural rainfall only. In the bush, to ensure at least some seed for the future, they very quickly send up a single flowering stem. If the season then dries off the flower rapidly goes to seed adding to the already dormant seeds in the soil. However, if there is follow up rain or if there is still plenty of moisture in the soil, they continue growing and send up more flowering stems. We can capitalise on this in the garden by watering later into the season which may extend flowering by several weeks. One really hot day though usually triggers the seeding process.
These plants are susceptible to many of the common pests that are experienced with other garden plants including aphids, thrips, slugs, snails, caterpillars, grasshoppers, small children, dogs and opportunistic flower pickers.
All the seeds we sell come from our cultivated plants. These guidelines are based upon years of experience in growing them. As always, your comments on this guide or other parts of our website are welcomed. Please use the Contact page to have your say.