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Germinating seeds from Baja California

RUSSELL AYERS HAUGHEY haughey at aztec.inre.asu.edu
Sat Feb 4 15:33:29 EST 1995

I've made many trips to Baja, and other desert parts of Mexico.  And, I hacollected seed of boojum and fan palm.  Ihave had great luck 
getting both to germinate and to grow to healthy plants.  But,
I grow mine outside in Mesa Arizona.  In my experience it is very
hard to grow healthy desert plants in northern climates because
of the lack of sunshine, and almost impossible to grow healthy 
plants inside.  To give you perspective, what is the difference
in your camera's light meter reading between outside in Baja, 
and inside in Seattle?  The result of growing cactus and Boojums
inside is that they get etiolated.  The distance between the nodes
grows too long, the plants get spindly as if they were reaching for 
the light.  You may have seen this when you see a seedling trying to 
come up under a rock.  With cactus they usually get long, spindly, 
and eventually fall over.  

But, all is not lost.  You can do well with a grow-light, or 
simply growing the plants under incandescent or flourescent lights.
Remember to shut the light off at night or you may confuse the plants.

You may be able to grow both boojum and palm outside during what
ever kind of warm season you have, and bring it in if it freezes.  
Keep the plants out of the rain, and plant them in very very well
draining soil because too much water will kill the boojum especially.

Both plants will germinate with moderately warm temperatures (75-90 degrees).
Plant seed as deep in soil in pot as the seed is wide.  Water often enough to keep them moist.  Be careful to water with enough water to leach salts through
the pot.  When you get germination, only water often enough to keep
the plant from wilting, but when you do water, water thoroughly.
Remember, lots of light!!!

An excellent reference is:

    The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Succulents by Gordon Rowley.

I'll be going down to Sonora to look and perhaps collect seed of
the Sonoran population of boojums in April.  Good luck with your
horticultural venture.

Russ Haughey; haughey at aztec.asu.edu


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