Twining Vine Garden Seed Store, Twining Vine Garden,

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When growing perennial and annual seedlings, starting very early in the growing season is good way of having good sized plants to set out in the garden when the weather improves. This allows your plants to establish quicker, withstand adverse environmental conditions better, pests and, of course, flower sooner. Tomatoes started in January are one gallon sized and in bloom by mid April so you can expect your first vine ripened fruit by early June. The harvest will be bountiful. Perennials might even bloom in their first year, but even if they don't, the plants will be well established to withstand winter and by spring, you will have a plant that looks great and will perform beautifully because they are simply more robust.

Trees on the other hand, are a little different. When starting tree seeds early (lets say November), you have the benefit of pushing two seasons of growth into one. But tree and shrub species from temperate climates have an internal clock that evolved for that environment and undergo dormancy to survive the winter. So if you start your tree and shrub seedlings early, expect them to enter dormancy. Sure, you can put them under grow lights, increase the pot size, give them extra fertilizer, bottom heat, or pull your hair out, there is nothing you can do to prevent them from entering dormancy.The first year growing Gymnocladus from seed in early November had me wondering what I was doing wrong when suddenly my vigorous seedlings’ leaves began to turn yellow in late February. I watered, fertilized, adjusted the timer to provide more light and pulled my hair. Despite my best attempts and much to my horror within a week, they went from happy seedlings to sticks. I put the seedlings on the bench behind the greenhouse (out of sight, out of mind, yet unable to dump the lot) and accepted my failure. A month or so went by. When searching for more pots for my transplants under the bench the Gymnocladus ‘sticks’ were placed, a spot of green caught my eye…a leaf bud! They weren’t dead! Placed in dappled shade of an apple tree, new leaves soon fluttered on the breeze. The same thing happened this year when growing Xanthoceras from seed except without experiencing the cool weather of Autumn, the green leaves stayed on the seedling and simply dried on the dormant seedling. Remembering what happened with the Gymnocladus and a customer’s Sassafras, I didn’t dump the pot. A month has passed and new growth is emerging. So if this happens to you, don’t be too worried as long as you’ve never caused reason for the sudden inexplicable behavior of your early started seasonal trees and shrubs. This is a survival mechanism ingrained into the plants DNA, as long as you recognize it for such and give the dormant seedlings a cool period (basement, unheated greenhouse, WHY), your precious seedlings will think winter has passed and continue growing giving you the growth in one year, you would only expect in one.