About Stiff Gentian: These unusual wildflowers, named for their stiffly upright tubular blossoms, look like buds about to open. In order to pollinate them, bumblebees and other large bees must force their way into the small opening at the top; the unique design of the blossom expands just enough to allow passage. The Gentiana genus was named after King Gentius, an ancient ruler of the kingdom of Illyria who, according to legend, benefited from the medicinal effects of this family of plants. The species name “quinquefolia” comes from the Latin words for “five leaves,” referring to the clusters of blossoms that often occur in groups of five.
Stiff Gentian Germination: To break this seed’s dormancy, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60-90 days before planting. Scatter the seed on the surface of the soil, then press it in lightly. Keep the soil moist, but water carefully to avoid disturbing the seed; keep the soil temperature at about 70 degrees F. Germination may be slow and irregular, but should begin to occur within 4 weeks. Transplant two seedlings each in individual pots, handling very carefully to prevent breaking the hair-like roots.
Growing Stiff Gentian Seeds: Keep the seedlings moist as they develop, which will happen rather slowly. The seedlings will need very careful attention when being transplanted, since they do not appreciate root disturbance. They must be regularly watered. Full bloom may not occur until their third or fourth season of growth. This plant does not appreciate extreme heat or drought, though it is cold hardy. This flower attracts many types of bees.
Harvesting Stiff Gentian: 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 Stiff Gentian Seeds: After blooming, the flowers develop into papery, light brown capsules with ripe seed inside. Cut them from the stem or simply shake the entire plant over a container to remove the fine, tiny oval seeds. Germination rates will be best if the seed is planted immediately, but it will remain viable for several years if stored properly. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Stiff Gentian Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Agueweed, Five-flowered Gentian Duration: Annual/Biennial Bloom Time: Late Fall Height: 18-24 inches Spacing: 12-15 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 180,000 Produces a plant with broad, pointed leaves and clusters of narrowly tubular purple flowers.