Seedling Surprise

The promiscuity and prolific self-seeding of hardy Tradescantias is well known and is the reason for so many open pollinated hybrids being discovered and in such a diverse range of colours and leaf forms. I suspected it was going to be a potential problem for me at some point and here it is! Just two years into this venture, this is obviously going to be an ongoing problem but one which may have as many benefits as disbenefits.

I have said in an earlier post that the open soil areas surrounding the 20 litre sunken pots are covered in Strulch mineralised straw mulch which reduces weed seed germination by blocking out light and deters slugs and snails who can’t slither over it. However, the Strulch gradually rots down and I think an additional 30-50mm is going to be required annually to top it up and stop the falling seeds from germinating.

The other, and possibly more worrying aspect of this problem, is when seedlings pop up in the pots themselves because this is potentially a new/different hybrid to the plant in the pot and if allowed to grow will become entangled with the roots of the main plant.

However, the upside to all this is the opportunity it presents for identifying possible new hybrids which could be worthy of further cultivation if sufficiently robust and different. The big drawback is the uncertainty of parentage as with 50 plants in close proximity, open pollination could occur between any of them.

Nobody said this was going to be easy!