Tidy tips are also known as poached egg flowers. I had some years ago that I bought as plants. They reseeded for a couple years, then got lost in the scheme of things because their seedlings look a lot like a weed that is very prolific in my yard. I always liked their white tipped, but mostly yellow daisy-like petals, but didn’t see them as seeds or plants for a long time. Until this year, when I saw their seeds on the Swallowtail Garden Seeds website. (click on any photo to enlarge)
This spring I grew tidy tips from seed myself, in my greenhouse. I began them in February, which I will tell you now was too early. But I didn’t know how long they would take to sprout, and many flowers with such small seeds can take 2-3 weeks to sprout. In fact, the instructions said to expect 14-28 days. Not so in my greenhouse. The tidy tips sprouted within a few days. They also defied the common tendency of many small flower seeds to sprout into miniature, barely visible plants. They were sturdy from the beginning.
My basic seed starting technique was more than adequate for these flowers. They sprouted reliably, all within the same couple of day, and it looked like nearly every seed germinated, too. Since they were good-sized from the start, they needed prompt thinning, which they didn’t exactly get, but when I did get to it, the remaining plant in the pot took off in growth. It being early in the seed-starting season, I also got carried away transplanting some of the extras from each pot, so had an abundance of of tidy tips flourishing.
It was challenging to manage them in the greenhouse for a few weeks, as it was too cold to plant them out, but they had so much growth that they were sucking up water from their relatively small pots. Fortunately, they still grew low to the ground, like a spiral mat of sorts. And there were enough warm days in March that I could harden them off.
Then, since I saw they are considered wild flowers, albeit in warmer California, but also considered a sunflower of sorts, I decided to go ahead and plant them out and keep an eye on night time lows. They were fairly root bound by then, but I rough the roots up, breaking the outer layers so that they would be stimulated to feel free to grow out into the rest of the soil. And, of course, I watered them in well right after transplanting.
While the low temperatures got down in the mid 30’s (F) a few nights, my biggest problem was that the irrigation water was not turned on and there was not much rainfall in March or April. And I had planted them about half an acre away from the house. I managed to keep them alive using some long hose combos from the house and was rewarded with pretty flowers early on.
I planted them the suggested 12 inches apart, but it remains to be seen how well they fill in. I think they have potential as a bedding plant, but some of my plants might have been stressed just enough that they won’t fill out quite as much as normal. I will try to remember to add a photo later in the season as an update.
I have already collected my first tidy tip seeds this year. They are similar to fluffy dandelion seed heads, so if you want help spreading them, you might look for a toddler or two to blow them across the garden bed. I have put my these new seeds in one of the amber jars I purchased a few years ago for seed saving, but I will leave the lid open a while to make sure they are dry.
I also want to see if I can be better at identifying their volunteers next spring. It will be useful to see what time of year they sprout. Monitoring that will give me a better idea of when I can safely plant out any starts that I grow next year. It seems that I can probably plan on tidy tips being a regular part of spring around here.