Hummingbird Farm now offers seeds! Our seeds can be found through the EcoSeed Co-op, a cooperative of farmers growing seed right here in BC.
Because those seed packages are just so small and hard to read, this is the place to find detailed growing information about our seeds. Since we are new to this seed venture, we will continue to add details of our seeds as well as new ones over time.
Rudbeckia Hirta – Orange & Bronze shades
Rudbeckia Hirta is a short lived perennial in BC (Zone 3 and up), native to North America, which provides excellent food for pollinators. It flowers the first year and then can live for 2 – 5 years after that, and will readily seed in your garden to naturalize (if you don’t want that, prune back in fall!) It is easy to start from seed, but there are a few tricks to increase your germination and success! About 6 weeks (max, but 1 – 5 weeks is fine as well) before you expect the last frost in your area is a good time to start.
- It is best for your garden, in our opinion, to plant in groupings (rather than 1 here and there), so plant groups of 3, 5 or 7 plants and do more than one grouping if you have room. We suggest germinating twice as much as you think you need – so if you want 10 plants, do at least 20 seeds. If they all work and you have too much – what a nice thing to share! Almost all perennial and biennial flower seeds benefit from a “cold stratification” to trick it into thinking it has been hanging out for the winter waiting to get going in spring. Mist a paper towel so it is damp, not wet, and sprinkle your seeds on. Place loosely in a plastic bag and pop in the fridge. After 3 or 4 days (or longer is fine), remove.
- That damp seed has now been activated and is ready to plant. It can be a little tricky to plant damp seed: the best way to do this for small seeds is with a pair of tweezers. Use a seed tray with a dome lid if you have one, but if not, a reused plastic clamshell for berries or salad (with a clear lid) is an excellent option. Make sure it fits on a sunny window sill (or you can use strip lighting). Fill with damp (not soggy) soil that you have purchased – a standard potting mix is great (native garden soil does not work as well). Evenly space the seeds on this soil bed and lightly sprinkle with additional damp soil (not too deep). Pop on a sunny window sill. Mist/water lightly if it dries out and wait 3-10 days until your babies germinate. No need for bottom heat.
- Once they germinate, remove the plastic cover. Wait until they have formed a “true leaf”, then very carefully “prick out” and transplant each one into its own container. Previously used plant cell packs are great to use. Look for a pot size of a max of 4″. Even an old take-out coffee cup works well.
- Leave uncovered and place back on that sunny window sill.
- Keep moist but not wet to grow happily until close to your last frost date (here in the Kootenays that is around the first week of May for most folks).
- Move outside and into the shade during the day. Protect it from midday sun for about a week to ‘harden off’.
- Plant in your garden! Prepare a nice hole (at least 1′ deep) for each plant, about 1-2 feet apart. We highly recommend feeding the soil with some great amendments, including some compost or manure. You want a couple of nice big shovels’ full for each plant, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of bone meal (excellent slow release phosphorus source for flowers), as well as 1/2 cup of green sand (slow release potassium). If you have trouble finding green sand (check at your local farmer supply), ask what you can use that is high in potassium (preferably slow release). You can also use wood ash if you have access to that – 1/2 cup per hole. Mix that all up in your nice, big planting hole (build a $20 hole for a $5 plant!).
- Pinch! When the baby has a nice cluster of leaves and it looks like it wants to send up a single flower, pinch that off… I know it is hard, but it is worth it! You want a bushy plant with LOTS of flowers, not just one!
- Water deeply once a week – we want to get those roots deep. If it is very dry, water more often in the first year, and then less often in subsequent years. Once established, these babies are drought tolerant.
- Harvest your flowers! Check to see if they are “turgid” (nice and rigid). Use the wiggle test for this: just wiggle the stem about 12″ below the flower, if it seems “floppy” wait… when it is ready to cut, cut very deeply into the plant, right down almost to the ground level, as this encourages additional flower stems and branching. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt the plant!