About Fireweed: The common name “fireweed” comes from this wildflower’s rapid growth over recently burned ground. The seeds remain in the soil for many years, bursting into bloom when fire clears the ground and brings light to the soil. In twentieth century Britain, this bright flower acquired the nickname “bombweed” because it thrived in bomb craters. Fireweed has become a symbol of the Alaska and the Yukon region, and has a long history of culinary and medicinal use; currently, the slightly spicy petals are used to flavor wildflower honey, candy, ice cream, or jelly.
Fireweed Germination: Direct sow in late fall, mixing the tiny seed with sand if necessary to sow evenly. Since this seed needs light to germinate, press it into the surface of the soil. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60-90 days before planting; keep the soil consistently moist until germination, which usually occurs within 14-20 days. This plant adapts well to most soils.
Growing Fireweed Seeds: Keep seedlings moist until they have become established. Mature plants prefer well-drained but moist soil and grow best with adequate moisture, though they also tolerate drought well. When grown from seed, this plant may not bloom until its second year of growth. It spreads quickly by means of rhizomes and its own seed and may become weedy, though seedlings can easily be removed. After several years of growth, mature plants can be divided. This plant attracts hummingbirds and bees.
Harvesting Fireweed: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water.
Saving Fireweed Seeds: This plant will produce thin 3” pods that split, releasing silky white fluff with tiny seeds attached. Collect the fluff immediately, since it easily blows away on the wind. The fluff is difficult to separate from the seed, but it does not affect germination and can be planted in that condition. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Fireweed Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Fireweed, Willow Orchid, Rosebay, Rosebay Great Willow Herb, Giant Showy Willow Herb, Blooming Sally, Blackheart Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Moist USDA Zone: 2a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 500,000 Produces narrow, blade-like leaves and an elongated spike of four-petaled bright pink flowers.