Saturday, March 29, 2014

On the Clocks - Kamsprout's Journal

Spring Four O'clock Very Happy

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I plant five cells with 2 to 3 seeds each of Four O'clock seeds as our committee meets to begin our project.  I cover the seeds lightly with moistened soil starter since they are small seeds, but not really tiny like poppy seeds.  Instructions are to find a place during the germination period that is evenly warm with no direct light until they sprout.  So, I come home, place them in plastic bags supported with cut straws, put them on top of the china cabinet in the rarely visited dining room and promptly forget about them.  So, the conditions are dim light, temp of about 68 degrees and neglect. 

At home in dining room
Monday, March 10, 2014
I walk through the dining room and the seed trays catch my eye.  To my surprise, there are sprouts! Time to move to the kitchen with lots of light from windows and skylights.  Since the countertops are stone, therefore cold in the cold weather, I have placed them on folded towels to insulate them from bottom cold.  The cells where the plastic bag was more elevated have sprouted the most.
New home in kitchen
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Out of the plastic bags for a couple of hours.  Since a neighboring cell with a hyacinth bean seed shows a patch of possible mold, I remove the mold with a spoon and lightly mist the entire tray with a solution of fungicide diluted by half.  Back into the plastic bags.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Mamsprouts does a consult today and suggests that they may become leggy trying to reach for the skylight.  With my husband out of town, I “borrow” the Seasonal Affective Disorder ("SAD") light from his office and set up shop with it elevated about 8” above the sprouts where it stays on continuously for the next few days.

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Time for the first bottom watering.  I place the tray in a small amount of water for about five minutes.  When I remove the tray, I place it on a quadruple thickness of paper towels to drain—they are completely soaked after a few minutes, so I move them to a double thickness of paper towels to further drain.  Little further drainage, so I move them back to the towels under the SAD light,  with a plastic bag draped very loosely over the top.  They are hard to ignore in the middle of the kitchen, so now they are getting daily scrutiny.

Monday, March 17, 2014
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  Time for some more bottom watering for my green bell flower sprouts.  And, after reading a little more, I realize that I need to give them a break from the light at nighttime.  Proof that there is some room to make mistakes along the way!  Starting to get questions from my husband about how long I plan to keep his SAD light!  At this point the sprouts are about 4 – 6” tall.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Appear to need water again.  Obviously getting thirsty more often.  It appears that the most important part of watering is sufficient draining afterward.  They are continuing to grow and appear healthy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014
I cave on the SAD light.  I purchase an Ott light at Lowe’s and move the entire operation to a counter in my laundry room with the Ott light and additional filtered light through an adjacent window.  I will be out of town for a few days, so before leaving I bottom soak the tray and drain it.  I leave a plastic bag lightly draped over the tray the entire time I am gone, trying to keep it off the sprouts themselves with plastic straws.

Under the Ott light
In the laundry room

Thursday, March 27, 2014
The plants are all happy and healthy on my return.  Today we get to take a trip to the committee meeting to see if it is time to transplant to larger containers.  We determine it is, so that is a project for this weekend.  I purchase some 3” square containers and some Scott’s seed starter mix to prepare for transplanting.  I am only moving up an inch in size so that the roots will not get water logged when I water the sprouts.

Monday, March 31, 2014
Today is transplant day.  Mamsprouts has joined me to assist in transplanting the four o'clocks to the 3" containers.  After moistening the seed starter mix and sterilizing the 3" containers, we remove and separate the sprouts from the trays.  Several sprouts are not quite ready and one has a broken stem, so we returned those to the tray to see if they would respond with more time (I pinched off the broken stem but left the remainder to see if it might come back).  The rest went into the individual containers. 

Bottom watering after transplanting to individual containers

After bottom watering and draining very well on paper towels, I returned them to the laundry room counter and positioned them under the Ott light again.  My observation after several hours was that they seemed none the worse for wear from being moved to new containers.  For the night, I again turned off the light and loosely draped plastic bags over the sprouts, held above the plants with straws.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Checked to see how they survived the night and they appear to be doing just fine.  I really think the trick is sufficiently draining after bottom watering.  I first drained on a quadruple thickness of paper towel.  When that was thoroughly wet, I put a new double layer underneath and drained there until damp.  Finally when I moved them back to the laundry room I put a double layer of paper towels on top of the terry towels on which they are resting.

Still doing well the morning after transplanting

Monday, April 21, 2014 - Sunday, May 11, 2014
Time to move outside.  The days have warmed and the nights are not too cold, so it is time to start hardening them off.  I have moved them to a covered patio with skylights in the roof.  This should give them sufficient light while still protecting them from wind, too much sun and some nights that may still get pretty cold.  I still bottom water every few days as the soil dries out.  There are some days that they dry out a little too much, but this does not kill them and, in fact, may even strengthen them a little.  I also am watering them with a diluted solution of house plant food.  I end up leaving them in this covered area longer than I might have ordinarily because we have had an extended period of low night time temperatures this year.

April 21
May 11


They have fared well so far.  In fact, I have not lost a single plant as of yet.  Tomorrow it will be out to the garden and  I'll see how strong they really are.

Monday, May 12, 2014
Well, here they are in their new homes.  These locations receive lots of morning sun and some mid day sun.  We'll have to see how they fare now that they are no longer protected.  Some are in locations very exposed and some have the cover of plants that are next to them or a wall of the house nearby.

They do not look nearly as hardy in the garden as they did in the trays, but we will see how they do.  The straws mark the locations of the plants--and are also reminders to be careful and not accidentally weed the wee little plants!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - Monday, July 21, 2014
This is a period of what I can best describe as benign neglect.  The first few days I tried to make sure they were watered.  Then, how can I put it, but that life got in the way.  There were some periods of lots of rain, but really more very dry periods.  The plants a bit more protected from the elements either by location or nearby plants have seemed to fare the best.  They must have been hardened off pretty well before transplanting to the garden because all but the most exposed seem to have fared well.

The last picture shows the plant in the most exposed location--on a corner of the garden without protection of nearby plants or the house.  It is the only location that seemed to cause a real problem after transplanting.  The others are all thriving although none have bloomed yet.  They are all pretty leggy, but seem vigorous.

Monday, August 25, 2014
We have blooms!!  The only transplants that have bloomed and are robust are located in a northeast facing corner of the garden that is close to the stone wall of the house and close to the stone walkway.  My theory is that they have benefited from the heat radiating from the stone and the protection from the wind afforded by the house.  They have received intermittent moisture from rain, but no regular watering.  Several of the other transplants have survived but are still leggy and without blooms.


Spring/Summer 2015
What a difference a year makes!!  This spring, a few small plants appeared in the area that seemed to have the best success last year—the area adjacent to the stone of the house and the stone walkway.  None of the others returned.  However, I thought I had lost the plants in that area when they were accidentally pulled during some general weeding of my garden.  Oh well, I thought—at least I know an area that should work well for four o’clocks if I want to plant them again in the future.  Soon after, I left town for a few weeks; when I returned recently, what a surprise!!  The four o’clocks had not only survived, but exploded!  From three small plants last year, they have spread several feet, are dense and are loaded with blooms!  And, they are now dropping seeds each day into the soil and onto the stone walkway.  I am collecting seeds and they will be available to share with club members who are interested.  Other than the accidental weeding, they received no attention this season--I guess that shows what some heat, sunlight, sporadic rain and benign neglect will do!!





  1. They look very sturdy in the new pots. Congratulations, kamsprout, on your first foray into propagation!

  2. Check out the latest news on my four o'clocks!!

  3. Kam Sprouts 4 o'clocks returned for the second year and took off! Terrific plant and she will have seeds to share! Another story that it takes 2 years of patience in order for our plants to really succeed. Please read her update for this summer.