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Carlina acaulis

Carlina acaulis
Common name silver thistle
Family asteraceae
Life cycle perennial
Flowers silver-white (summer)
Size 6"
Light full sun
Cultural notes good for alpine/rock garden. ordinary well-drained soil
From seed easy, germinates in a week or so at room temperature.
detailed seed-starting info below

I keep this around for its different appearance and striking flowers. Plants last just a few years, and don't self-sow for me, so I grow new ones every couple years or so. The flowers are used by some to predict the weather, as they open and close in response to humidity levels.

silver thistle closed flower
Carlina acaulis dried flower
The flowers proceed to dry on the plant, and last quite a while.

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from '01 garden. Baggy 65F with light (70%G, 10-14d)
  2. Seed from '03 garden. Baggy 65F with light (80%G, 6-10d)
  3. Seed from '03 and '04 garden. Baggy 65F with light (76%G, 6-16d)
  4. Seed from '05 garden. Baggy 70F with light (58%G, 6-10d). Moving to warmth did not increase germination
  5. Seed from NARGS '08/'09 exchange. Baggy 70F (100%G, 6d)
  6. Seed from NARGS '13/'14 exchange. Baggy 70F (100%G, 6-16d)

The dried flowerheads are full of things that might be seeds. Only the very substantial, heavy things are viable. If you can press it flat with your finger, it is just chaff. A full flower yields surprisingly few seeds, in my experience.

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