Karsty

Welwitschia

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Hi Folks,

So here's a thread about Welwitschia.

Between May 2016 and Feb this year 2017 I bought 100 seeds, mainly from here - https://www.exot-nutz-zier.de/default.aspx

Here's what i learnt...

First, remove the outer coat. Some seeds are very flat and you can see through the outer membrane they are brown. When you open them you can see they are quite dead. Once you've finished doing this you will be left with as little as 50% of what you thought you had. The main point of removing the membrane (and it is quite thick) is to leave as little as possible to go rotten.

I used a completely mineral mix except for some charcoal. Horticultural grit and sand, pumice, and gypsum made from mixing up basic white plaster and breaking it up, and charcoal. In some cases I also used tufa limestone. This was after doing a lot of research into its native habitat, trying to emulate it as well as reproduce it in some way in a pot, which always involves using a more open mix. I discovered this thing called a perched water table, and that using a layer of crocks or gravel either has no effect on drainage or makes it worse. So I use the same media from top to bottom of the pot, and also a wick to move the perched water table down if necessary.

I sterilised the mix in a microwave.

Below shows how the seeds germinate. So they are best placed horizontally flat side down, and need to be covered by about 8-10mm of media to stop the root pushing the whole thing out of the ground. In most cases, but not all, I used a sprinkling of this https://www.thenutrientcompany.com/product/tnc-mycorrmax/ on the seed. In the end, there was no obvious difference between using it or not. I planted each seed individually in it's own pot.

So, now comes the other half of the trouble... Many seeds rot before they germinate. Then many seeds germinate and soon go rotten. Then, finally, you are left with a handful of toughies that germinate and continue to live. Out of 100 seeds purchased, I am left with 8 plants, so in fact more than 90% were fails!

I found germination would take place within 1 week, even at room temperature. I had many heated to 30°C during day, with no heat at night, but I found germination did not seem to depend on that. Any that did not show growth within 2 weeks were definitely lost.

NEVER let them dry out!!! I made that mistake years ago and they immediately died.

Keep them in full sun all the time - they scorch easily if going from shade to sun.

Here are the current photos, the 3 together in a pot have tufa in the mix, the others do not. Also the 3 together in a pot were originally planted in peat pots, which are still present below ground level. They are in south-west facing windows - https://goo.gl/photos/xTueWxicnGaPn3Y8A

Any others of you growing Welwitschia?

 

IMG_20161107_184740.jpg

Edited by Karsty

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Thanks for posting this thread! I'll have to try again with my remaining seeds, taking your advice in mind.

I would have thought the seeds had to be flat side up, because the heavier and rounded side would be the one touching the ground first after the seed had been blown away in nature. The one seedling I had came out looking fine with the seed flat side up, the 'wings' still attached.

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Thanks for your enthusiasm Carambola (~8

Well, if you really look at it, if you slice the seed exactly in half, the rounded side is the lightest side!

Having the flat side down does actually make sense. Imagine the seed rounded side down on the ground, the wing or wings will be higher off the ground and more likely to get caught in a breeze. If it then lands flat side down, the wings will be much more flush with the ground, so much less likely to be blown about. I've just remembered I did an experiment and threw a bunch of them repeatedly into the air to see how most of them landed (maybe I blew them along the ground as well?), and most landed rounded side up.

Having said that, seeds are pretty flexible and generally end up growing in the right way. Room for more experimentation?

I'm going to sell the 5 smaller ones.

Edited by Karsty

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Here are three i grew from seed, lost some due to rot, some due to heater malfunction nad these ar the survivors, ome with three leaves.....impossible eh..

 

image.jpeg

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OMG Chris, they are awwwesommme ! ! ! ! !

How many years old are they?

What do you grow them in?

How much sun do you give them?

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They re in a south facing velux window, lots of sun. I think the biggest (a boy) is about 20 years old, the others about 15. I lost a number due to greenhouse electricy (main supply) failures so they live inside.

i grew avout 40 from seed but none i think except these survive.

Nice plants, grown in gritty compost, watered regularly.

 

regards

chris

 

  • Like 1

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Those are looking very nice! Really makes me want to hurry up and pot my seeds already. Did you have any of them suddenly give up the ghost after getting their adult leaves, without a clear cause? I'm trying to figure out if I should maybe get some more seeds to be future proof.

Btw, is that a pineapple to the right of the big one?

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After selling the first one for a pitiful £10 on eBay, I decided to put the remaining 3 in with the main three I have together. Here they are all very carefully freshly together. Think they'll make a nice bushy clump.

8vjgJUwxNktQRLRVxS4u7j87YIB4kTJG6a4gS-3t

https://photos.app.goo.gl/55RgDmMgdgDVVyG73

One of them definitely had fungal hyphae growing in the pot, possibly a mycorrhiza? A study I read said Welwitschia is variably mycorrhizal.

Edited by Karsty

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