Why are seed grown native plants important?
How else would you grow a plant, anyway? It’s time for a lesson in basic biology, but don’t worry. It will come back to you easily.
When a plant is grown from seed, the seed is formed from successful pollination. Pollination happens when pollen (the male genetic material) lands on the ova (female genetic material) of the plant. Either wind or insects aid in moving the pollen to the ova for fertilization.
Seed Grown Plants Are Genetically Diverse
Every grain of pollen is genetically different from the million other grains of pollen produced by a plant. Each each ova is also genetically different from the others on the plant, too. As a result, there are literally millions of genetic combinations that could result from the fertilization of the pollen with ova. Just like human siblings are not genetically identical, seeds do not grow into genetically identical plants. For example, seeds from New England Aster can develop into individual plants with pinkish or purplish flowers. Some might naturally grow taller than others. Maybe some have a leggy tendency while others have stouter stems.
Nurturing a seed into a mature plant is a long and tedious process. It can take several years. Each species has its own requirements for germination. Some seed need special treatment before they will germinate. There are species that need light to germinate — so we can’t bury them too deeply in soil. Some need warmth, some need a cold period followed by a warm period. And then, there are the seeds that take two years to germinate once they are sown!
Because of how tricky it is to grow plants from seed, horticulturists have found quicker and more profitable ways to get mature plants. Cuttings, root layering, and dividing are a few you may be familiar with. There is now tissue culture, too! All these methods result in plants that are clones, or genetically identical to one another.
What’s the Down Side to a Cutting or a Clone?
Genetic diversity is an important component in a plant community. If one plant has a particular weakness – say it really REALLY doesn’t like too much sun, or it is particularly vulnerable to a certain disease…. it may succumb. But its siblings may be able to tolerate the very same stresses. And this allows that plant species to continue for another generation. It is survival — and reproduction — of the fittest.
At Edge of the Woods, we are growing as many of our plants from seed as possible. We try to label the plants that are grown by seed as ‘seed grown’ with their signs and tags. Let us know if you are looking for seed grown plants.