Preserving leftover seeds, growing freesias in a greenhouse

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Q Will freezing harm leftover seeds? Some seeds are not harmed by freezing while others would be. Heat and dampness reduce the viability of seeds. Keep them in a dry, cool place (40 to 50 degrees F.).

A good trick is to put a packet of powdered milk in the tightly covered jar with the seeds. To do this spread out two paper tissues and put a tablespoon or so of powdered milk in the center. Fold the sides and ends over until no powder can dribble out. You may need a rubber band to hold it. Be sure the jar cover is tight.

Q I planted some dahlia seeds last spring which now have tubers about 2 inches long. Will these produce blooms next year? If so what is the best way to store them?

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We have success storing dahlia tubers (toes) in sphagnum peat moss. We let the stems drain by turning the clumps upside down on a vented tray or screen; then, without dividing them, we place them in a wooden box to which we've added an inch of peat moss, covering the clump.

About February, we check them over to see if they are shriveling. If so, we add a little moisture to the box. In late March, to get a head start (especially with small tubers), we divide the clump and pot the tubers, growing them on our sunporch until planting-out time in May.

Be sure each division has an ''eye'' or sprout. It may be very tiny so look closely. It's also all right to plant your tubers directly outdoors. They'll just bloom a bit later.

Q I love the fragrance of freesias and would like to know how to grow some in our new greenhouse during the winter months.

Freesia bulbs do not need precooling and can be grown in a greenhouse or sunny window. Plants the bulbs an inch deep and about six to a 4-inch pot or 12 to a 6-inch pot.

Use plain garden soil or a potting mix from a garden store. Water enough to moisten the soil. Set in a light spot that's about 50 degrees F. until the tops are an inch or two high. Don't let the soil dry out, keeping it moderately moist.

When the tops are 6 inches high, move to a location where the temperature ranges between 65 and 70 degrees F. After flowering and the tops turn yellow, let them dry off.

After two to three weeks, the bulbs can be put into a cool spot so they can be kept for forcing again next fall.

Q We have a bittersweet vine on a property-line fence and every year it has blossoms but no berries. Our neighbors have one nearby and it has loads of berries. What are we doing wrong?

Nothing, actually. Your vine is obviously a male vine and is pollinating your neighbor's vine which is female as indicated by the crop of berries.

On bittersweet (Celastrus) male and female blooms are borne on separate vines and it is difficult to tell which is which until they bloom. Order a female vine from a nursery or make a deal with your neighbor. Or root cuttings of the female vine in early summer in perlite.

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