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Aquelegia seedlings

I have sown approx. 80 aquelegia seeds, which have germinated into 1 - 2 inch seedlings now, which is great, but some of them have a sort of downy white substance on them, which when wiped with finger comes off, what is it, and is this normal/harmful to the seedlings?


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,892

    Sounds as though there might be a bit of fungal growth going on there - perhaps damping-off.

    Are they undercover or outdoors GD?

    They are hardy little critters and better off outside IMO. If they're undercover I'd harden them off over a few days and then just leave them outside in a reasonably sheltered spot. 

    Good luck image

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • They are in a cold greenhouse, and have grown quite well, some have this white downy substance, but not all - does it mean that I have been over watering them?  I have a sort of zip up shelving system outside, would it be better to put them in their - don't they suffer if it freezes by being outside?  I don't want the problem to spread to the rest of my seedlings - I have a few hundred in the cold greenhouse at present - not sure what I will do with them all once they mature though.

    Won't the aquelegia flower next year (2017)? I was hoping they would do so. I have about 6 varieties, and am looking forward to a brilliant display of colours. Thank you Topbird & Philippa.

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,892

    In my experience they don't need to be protected from the cold which is why I would harden them off and move them outside asap (no plant will appreciate going straight from indoors to outside without some acclimatisation). Common aquilegias are tough plants and will seed themselves around quite happily if they like where you put them.

    I would only vary this advice if you are growing / breeding particularly choice / rare / expensive plants -but even then they need to be cool with good air circulation & kept fairly dry in the dormant season.

    Any of the fungal diseases can be caused by damp, still conditions so maybe you are overwatering - but maybe they just need better air circulation. I wouldn't water them at all once they're outside unless we have a really, really dry spell.

    If they're only an inch or two high they are unlikely to flower spring 2017. I would keep potting them on over this next season until the roots fill at least a 3" pot and they should flower 2018. 

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Yes, that all makes sense Topbird, perhaps they have had too much watering.  At the mo they are on shelving in the GH, with lettuce and hollyhocks on the top shelf - which do seem to need watering fairly often, so perhaps the excess water has dropped down onto the aquelegia causing this excessive dampness.  I transplanted the seedlings from seed trays into those black modular sections - i.e. 9 or 12 sections per tray, so they are not in 3" pots yet.  Should I transplant them into pots before putting them outside or into the shelved wardrobe thingy or will they be alright to keep in the modular trays? 

    I know aquelegia do seed easily as I have far too many of them in my flower bed, although they are all one colour, however these seedlings are new varieties to me which I am quite excited about, and was really hoping that by sowing them in the GH in the Autumn that they would flower in 2017.

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,892

    I would only pot them on once the roots had filled the module. I wouldn't expect to see too much happening over the next month or two but, come March, they should gallop away.

    The only concern I would have is how much they have already been affected by the fungus - but there's not much you can do about that now other than to give them drier, more ventilated conditions & hope for the best.

    If they do succumb completely I would do another sowing in spring. Those new seedlings might still flower in 2018.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Yes, I will resow if necessary in the spring - I will check them over tomorrow before moving them, gradually over the next few days. I didn't have this problem with the seedlings last year - but perhaps the weather has been milder and we have had more dull days a few weeks ago, when the air would have been damper in the greenhouse too.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,159

    I used to sow them late summer autumn and then had babies to deal with all winter. 

    Carrie Thomas, Touchwood, suggested sowing in a cold GH in January when I ordered seed. This has worked well for me since then.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Looking at this site nut, I first thought have my seedlings got Downy Mildew, but I am hoping that it is not this.  I will follow Topbird & phillipa's suggestions, but keep a vigilant eye on the seedlings all the same.  However, I will sow some more in Jan/Feb time and see  which are the healthiest plants to plant out in the Spring.

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