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Calceolaria uniflora (C. darwinii)

Calceolaria darwinii (C. uniflora)

 

Getting started -   These seeds are small, so work in a well-lit area.

You may start them in small pots (2" / 5 cm).  Fill each container with a mix of 50% potting soil and 50% coarse sand or fine-grade perlite.  Avoid adding lime to the soil. Don't compress the soil, simply water it so that it's uniformly moist (use bottled spring water if your tap water is very high in minerals).  Place about 8 or 10 seeds in each pot, and sprinkle a very thin (1/8" / 3 mm) layer of vermiculite (or soil) on top.  Carefully moisten this top layer. 

For the next few weeks, ensure that the top layer stays moist (but not soggy).  If you enclose the pots in plastic to maintain humidity, open it once or twice daily to allow fresh air in.  Keep the pots between 50-75 degrees (10-23C) in a bright spot, but not in direct sun.  I recommend checking the temperature with a thermometer.

The seeds should begin sprouting in 3-5 weeks, but allow up to 10 weeks for any slow ones to sprout, especially if temperatures are cool.  After they sprout, temperatures below 70 or 75 degrees (23C) are best.  If you kept the pot enclosed in plastic, remove it so the seedlings get fresh air.  Over 40% humidity is recommended.  Again, don't keep the soil soggy, but continue keeping the soil surface moist, to enable any slow seeds to germinate.  

Direct sun may be too much the first month, but you may place them under a fluorescent bulb, kept 4 inches (10 cm) away.  After a month or two, give the pots a few hours of sun, with protection from strong afternoon sun.  Once they have grown in size, you may give them more sun. 

I recommend waiting until the plants have a few leaves before transplanting to a larger pot.  Transplant carefully to avoid breaking apart the soil ball. 

If you used potting soil in your mix, the seedlings should need no fertilizer until they are 2-3 weeks old, since potting soils contain fertilizer.  If you used a soil-less medium like coir fiber, feed when the seedlings are a week old with a very dilute (1/8th strength) all-purpose fertilizer, and repeat weekly.

Watch for aphids and mealy bugs.

 

Good luck!

Jeff

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