Alpine Gardening

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Written By Eva Stock

I love gardening, building, making and fixing things. 





If you haven’t already then you will definitely want to learn how to do alpine gardening. Alpine plants are a wonderful addition to your rock garden, whether yours is located in Nebraska or Maine, and they afford a look of authenticity to the garden that you just cant beat. Growing them from seed isn’t always an easy task but is far better than ordering them, or trying to purchase them from nursery centers. Based on my own experience they don’t always survive the trip well.

While alpine gardening consider sowing your alpine plants in compost will make a great base for them and give them every chance to grow well.

Purchasing a good base soil for Alpines isn’t easy and I found a great mixture on the Internet last year that works well for me. Unfortunately, I have forgotten where I found it. The trick was to mix equal parts purchased compost, 5mm grit and another part of vermiculite.

When to Plant

Experience is usually the best teacher to help you know when to plant in your area, but trial and error being the best teacher, still isn’t always easy on the patience or the pocketbook.

The best time to plant an alpine is usually winter or early spring, similarly to orchids,, similarly to orchids,. Selecting the time right will prevent a long delay in the seed germination or prevent it all together.

If you’re indecisive for the plant you want to sow,
try planting a few in wintertime and a few more in early spring and then record your results for future reference.

It isn’t easy to say generally that the best time to grow an Alpine will be a particular month, but there are generalizations that can be used as a base for your growing.

The Best Time, (Generally) to Sow

Aquilegia, Callianthemum, Campanula (high alpine), Crocus, Gentiana, Iris, Lewisia, and Saxifraga is going to be winter time, about December or January

The best time to plant things such as Calceolaria, Campanula (low alt), Dianthus, Ericaceae, Erysimum, Meconopsis Phlox, and Raoulia is going to be spring, February or March.

Many alpine seeds don’t store very well so you will want to plant them as soon as you order or receive them, to prevent them from becoming non viable.

If you need to store them, or need another means to plant, one way to work it will be to use a refrigerator or a small propagator.

Seeds that are placed in moist vermiculite sealed in a bag can be refrigerated for 4-12 weeks to simulate a wintertime atmosphere in the middle of summer.

For more tips and tricks on growing plants that will work well in your rock garden, visit the Alpine Gardening Society.

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