Growing dianella during lockdown

Like a lot of people, I became a pandemic gardener. I’d never grown anything from seed, but all the time at home* was the perfect opportunity to finally give it a go.

Dianella caerulea are a local native and a staple in our garden. We use them in difficult spots that other things would not survive in, and there are a lot of those spaces to be filled. Mass plantings get expensive though, so it was worthwhile giving it a shot. They’re just about bombproof too, popping up in all kinds of difficult parts of the garden so they seemed an easy place to start.

This fact sheet on Greening Australia’s website on another species of dianella was my guide. There are a couple of steps before you can plant, though its all simple. Gather the bright blue berries and soak them overnight in water to soften them. Remove the pulp by squishing through a sieve. Soak them again in soapy water (this is something to do with germination inhibitors? I read that somewhere) and then dry them on paper towel. The fact sheet recommends scarifying with sandpaper but I was just rough with them during the sieve process.

My first seedling

The info says to plant fresh seed for best results, and mine were all in trays within a few weeks. Then I watered daily and waited. I note now it says the seeds are mature from around October to January, but I gathered mine in April. Every seed that I planted was successful.

I planted over the Anzac Day weekend and diligently watered the pots, mostly every day. They had a nice spot where they got all the morning sun and were in shade after lunch during the hottest part of the day. Pretty much perfect conditions, and after a long wait – I think 10-12 weeks – the first tiny green tips started poking through.

I’ve always been one for delayed gratification, and this seed project really took that to the next level. I rarely missed a day of obsessing about how tall each seedling was, even when they were still only millimeters high. I know it’s a bit indicative of lockdown in general, but every day I went down and was amazed at my little plants, and it made my day brighter.

This is all part of the awe experience, so researchers say. It’s easy to relate awe to something like a sunset, but I’d not thought of it in terms of these tinier, slower moments. Regardless of why, it makes me feel good.

My little seeds are now happily growing free in my garden, filling some of those gaps just as I planned. Having now ordered “Let’s Propagate” by Gardening Australia’s Angus Stewart, I can see much more awe in my future too.  

*I live in Townsville, Queensland, so acknowledge that our lockdown was quite brief and painless in comparison to other areas. My gardening commenced right at the beginning.

Pepper fulfilling the important role of gardening assistant.

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