The Gentian plant which is also known as Gentiana bears cobalt-blue, trumpet-shaped flowers that rise on short stems from green, mat-like foliage. The Gentian plant is native to alpine regions, the plant also grows in temperate climates throughout the United States. The Gentiana affinis "Ovata" is actually a California native plant, blooming in June and July. You can grow small species of gentian, such as Gentian acaulis, in rock gardens, or plant more robust species, such as willow gentian (Gentian asclepiadeas) in borders in partial shade where summers are warm and dry. The Gentian plants often grow in symbiosis with certain fungi. You can easily treat the seeds with gibberellic acid -- a derivative of Gibberella fujikuroi fungus, in other to hasten germination. Cold stratification also helps the Gentian plant seeds break dormancy.


How to Grow Gentian from Seed

The following are the steps on how to grow Gentian plant from seed;

Step 1: You need to treat the seeds with gibberellic acid to hasten germination. Fold a paper towel into a square measuring about 4 ½ - by-4 ½ inches. Dampen the paper towel. You need to lay a 3-by-3 inch piece of polyethylene plastic in the center of the toweling. Cut a 2 ½ -by-2 1/2  inch piece of paper toweling and fold it into a rectangle ½ -by-1 inch. You need to moisten it with approximately 6 drops of water and then place it in the center of the plastic. Sprinkle the Gentian seeds on this small rectangle. Dip the pointed end of a toothpick -- the kind that is rounded on both sides -- into the dry gibberellic acid powder. Sprinkle the powder over the Gentian seeds. You need to keep the toweling flat and then place it inside a plastic bag to conserve moisture. When the Gentian seeds sprout, you can dip the paper toweling in a small container of water to float the Gentian seeds. Pour the water over a seed flat that is prepared with seed-germinating mixture.   

Step 2: Stratify the Gentian seeds to aid in breaking dormancy. In the springtime you can easily sow the Gentian seeds in a seed flat prepared with a moist seed-germination medium. Place the flat in a plastic bag and then seal. You can place the flat in a refrigerator for about 2 months. Remove the flat from the refrigerator and then keep them in a dark location at seventy to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. You can transplant seedlings to peat pots.  

Step 3: Plant the Gentian in a moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.0 to 7.5 in Sunset's Climate Zones six through twenty-two. Grow the Gentian plant in partial shade in areas where summers are warm and dry, or in full sun where summers are cool and damp. The small species that is up to six inches are spaced six to twelve inches apart. The larger growing species are spaced fourteen to twenty-four inches apart.

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