Thursday, 26 January 2012

Nicotiana (26 JAN 2012)

In my first post I wrote :  "This is one of seventeen nicotiana lime green grown from Mrs F's seedlings. Each one grew to maturity and developed its own personality. Had to transplant them several times as I kept underestimating how big they would grow. Think this traumatised them in the summer heat as they would raise their leaves up to cover the inner shoots. They all survived though."

You may wonder why I'm requoting myself after apologising previously for mentioning nicotiana too many times ...

My Blogger Signature Icon  -   August 2010

It's just that Diana invited me to join her meme about our signature plants :
http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-new-signature-plant.html
(It would be rude not to, and I can't lie to Diana ...)

Seeds were nominally "lime-green" but flower shades faded to white - September 2010
Red nicotiana is also available which fades through pink to white, but there's something about lime-green that makes my heart beat faster.

My pride and joy in my first year of gardening, this abundant display was produced from six tiny seedlings with the aid of a carefully chosen camera-angle ...

Nicotiana rules - October 2010

The joy came to an abrupt end when the first frost was laid in late October 2010. I thought (mistakenly) that the black dots at the centre of the blooms were seeds and stored them in envelopes to dry, they were actually anthers. In autumn, I sowed the "seeds" using my tried-and-tested technique of poking a pencil into the soil, dropping in a couple of seeds, patting soil on top and leaving them in the plastic greenhouse to germinate. Then I discovered that the flower-holders attached to the stalks dried into seed-pods after the flower withered. I sowed these seeds too, unsuccessfully. (I learned later that nicotiana seeds need light to germinate.)

While weeding in June, I recognised a cluster of leaves that brought back happy memories, just as seeds in a seed tray more often than not all germinate simultaneously. The plantlets were separated carefully and transplanted. Did I imagine that these specimens were even more beautiful than their predecessors?  As the summer progressed I found more peer groups, germinating at different times in the subtly different micro-climates around the garden, extending the flowering period well into winter.

June 2011
August 2011

The leaves and stems of nicotiana alata are sticky due to excretions of poisonous nicotine aimed at discouraging herbivores from eating them; these are ornamental plants.
Nicotiana tabacum is grown commercially for the tobacco industry. Not surprisingly, this hyrid can't be found naturally in the wild.

   
My Signature Plant : Nicotiana Alata Lime Green   -   September 2011

Glad it's still around   -  January 2012

Seed-pod remains after the flower has fallen  -  January 2012

When I inspected these nicotiana seeds, I wondered if they all had the potential to grow as their parents, considering my failure to propogate them last year. I wasn't sure if the existence of a seed meant that pollination had taken place. Are plant seeds produced anyway, like unfertilised chickens' eggs ? 

Do all seeds have the potential to germinate if exposed to the right conditions ? - I think the answer is No, because some seeds may not contain embryos. Fertilisation does not occur automatically when pollination takes place (this is what I thought till this week). There is a sequence of events which involves the pollen grain germinating into the stigma, growing a pollen tube down to the ovule at its base, releasing two sperms down the tube which shoot out onto the ovule, double-fertilising to produce the food for the developing embryo (thanks to one sperm) and the embryo itself (thanks to the other).

It's quite amazing that pollination occurs at all considering the number of other flowers a bee could choose to visit, even more amazing when double-fertilisation produces viable seeds.
Incredible that those seeds fell on soil exposed to the right amount of sunlight and moisture to trigger germination, when you think of the efforts we go through in our kitchens or greenhouses to simulate this.
Awesome that my flower-beds were graced with these self-propogating lime-green delights for the past two years and hopefully for many years to come.


Nicotiana seeds should be sown on the surface of the soil as they need light to germinate :
http://www.finegardening.com/plants/articles/flowering-tobaccos-light-up-garden.aspx

Articles about seeds and seed starting :
http://tomclothier.hort.net

Intricacies of post-pollination processes :

Another definition of ... SIGNATURE : a feature in the appearance or qualities of a natural object formerly held to indicate its utility in medicine either because of a fancied resemblance to a body part (as a heart-shaped leaf indicating utility in heart disease) or because of a presumed relation to some phase of a disease (as the prickly nature of thistle indicating utility in case of a stitch in the side)  ... Meriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
http://www.botgard.ucla.edu/html/botanytextbooks/economicbotany/doctrine/index.html


©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2012/01/nicotiana-26-jan-2012.html

22 comments:

b-a-g said...

Taking a blogging-break for a few days ...

Andrea said...

Does this Nicotiana got some aroma from the same genus of a different species, which is more famous? I've seen Nicotiana tabacum pink flowers. While reading your discussion on pollination, fertilization, germination, i suddenly remember the 4months of Seed Physiology class, and i missed our laboratory exercises. BTW, are there seeds which dont germinate even if given the expected proper conditions?

Elephant's Eye said...

Your closing definition of signature ties in gracefully with two votes for liverwort!

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Have a great few days off! This is a plant I love as well. The color is one I use a lot in design.

HolleyGarden said...

Very interesting information. It always amazes me how specific some seeds need to be to germinate. Love that Oct. 10 picture! Lovely! I have never planted nicotiana in my garden, but I think maybe next year I'll give it a try. Have a nice break!

Crystal said...

What a beautiful display of nicotiana. I grew some a few years ago from plug plants. They were supposed to be a tall variety, so I put them at the back of the border. But I'd been sent a dwarf variety, and when I discovered the error, there was no room for them at the front of the border.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Well my hepatica fits the bill then...I love this plant and the green flower...it seeded itself all over my brick patio one year I grew it...I always learn so much when I visit!!!

debsgarden said...

This is a wonderful plant, well chosen for your signature! I love that it self seeds. Is it fragrant?

Indie said...

I love nicotiana! I've had dark pink ones before, so pretty! The seeds look so small, I guess it's too hard to tell if they are fertilized or not like with bigger seeds..

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I love the massed planting, really beautiful, no wonder you love this plant. Have a good break!

b-a-g said...

Andrea & Deb - My nicotiana is fragrant in the evening. I would describe the perfume as sweet and smokey. It's nice - not like a cigarette.

Andrea & Holley - There are some seeds which need to be dormant for a period of time before they germinate.

Diana - Thanks for giving me the opportunity to blog about nicotiana yet again!

Donna GWGT - I think you'll agree that these photos don't show the true colour. I've heard it called chartreuse.

Crystal - Nicotiana Lime-Green grows beautifully in the sunshine or the shade (of the back border). In the shade, the leaves grow larger and the flowers are luminescent.

Donna GEV - Aqueligia grows in my patio, much more welcome than the invincible dandelions.

Indie & Janet - It's amazing that each tiny seed can produce a plant with so many stalks. They can be planted as stand-alone or en masse. I wont bother trying to propogate them in the greenhouse this year, I've sprinkled the seeds around the garden.

Alistair said...

b-a-g, I love your signature plant, it could well have been the Foxglove that you would have chosen.

b-a-g said...

You're right Alistair - Nicotinia was my first love, foxgloves are my bit on the side.

catharine Howard said...

Addictive nicotiana.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Wanted you to know that I have nominated you for the versatile blogger award...you are not obligated to do anything with this but you are so deserving and I couldn't pass up the chance to add you to the list of great blogs and bloggers!!

http://gardenseyeview.com/2012/01/30/true-blue-loyal-blooms/

b-a-g said...

Indeed Catherine.

Wow Donna! - I'm honoured to be awarded, especially coming from you.

redgardenclogs said...

Ah! I got my first nicotiana plant last year. I'm trying to overwinter it in the basement...we'll see what happens. Couldn't keep it in the house - a fat gray cat liked to help himself to its leaves a little too much.

I'm in love with it and hoping to grow more - from seed this time! Looking forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

HolleyGarden said...

Oh, I see Donna beat me to it, but I wanted to let you know: I am awarding you the Versatile Blogger award. You can read more about it at my post here: http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2012/01/1-blooms.html I hope you will accept it and have fun passing it on to others. Congratulations! (twice) :)

b-a-g said...

Welcome redgardenclogs - maybe the cat needs a nicotine patch.

Thank-you too Holley - I'll write an acceptance post next week.

Malar said...

Nicotiana is beautiful plant!

PatioPatch said...

there's soemthing about your garden b-a-g which makes the flowers grow. I think that element is probably you! (though lets not forget the role of wind in pollination too) Thanks for the botany lesson as had subsumed the ps and fs of botany into one process. The fact that flowers will effortlessly self set makes me frustrated with the getting-it-just-right manual efforts I have to make. The seedlings do not always choose the best spot for ultimate flowering and somethimes need the intelligence of gardener to move them ;)

b-a-g said...

Glad you think so too! - Malar

Laura - You're too kind. I have to admit that the garden fairs much better when I'm not around.

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