Tip: Propagation and Germination Methods - Smoke and Fire

Smoke Infusion for Seed Germination in Fire-adapted Species

Smoke: Smoke treatment often helps germination of plants from fire-prone environments, particularly Mediterranean-climate plants such as many species from California, Chile, Australia, South Africa, and the Mediterranean region. Prepare a dilute smoke solution by adding one part commercial smoke flavoring to nine parts water. Either soak the seeds in this solution overnight (or until they swell), or water the pot or flat once with this solution. Look for the "all natural" type that lists only water and natural smoke concentrate as ingredients. Smoke treatment is still experimental, and you may have to try different dilutions.

Fire: Sow in a flat or pot and cover with several inches of pine needles or heavy straw. Burn this and leave the ash and charcoal in place, and water the flat as usual.

Here is very informative link from the University of Washington, on how exactly that works: 

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A Cucumber Tree!!!

Not really, it's actually a fruit! This is going to be my little project tree for this year...
Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) is a fruit-bearing tree in family Oxalidaceae, natives to the Moluccas, Indonesia. Also known as Cucumber Tree, Kamias or Tree Sorrel, it is commonly cultivated or found semi-wild in Southeast Asian countries. Averrhoa bilimbi is also known as cucumber tree and tree sorrel. It should not be confused with carambola or starfruit, which bears the same common name.

  The bilimbi tree is a long-lived tropical tree with a short trunk and multiple upright branches.
  The fruit is too sour to be eaten raw and are used for beverages and preserves. The juice, with its oxalic acid content, is useful for bleaching stains from the hands and rust from white cloth, and also removing tarnish from brass.

Bilimbi grows best in full sun, rich, moist and well-drained soil. Propagation is by seeds.

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"Magnificent" Giant Elecampane

Who knew there was a "Magnificent" Elecampane. Beautiful!

Often known as Fleabane or Elecampane, the Inula magnifica makes a very large, imposing plant. The lower leaves can be almost 3 Ft  long and make a feature on their own before the plant comes into flower. Then, in late summer, the plant is topped with masses of large, bright, golden spidery flowers each an impressive 6 inches across. Plant it as a specimen behind a pond where both foliage and flowers can be seen, or grow behind much shorter, moisture-loving plants in the center of a damp border.

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