Monday, 17 September 2012

Cotton Plant Update

In April, I planted 6 cotton seeds, 3 white and 3 green.  Living in an area horribly unsuited to growing cotton, I knew that they'd need coddling over the summer and to be brought inside to extend the growing season in the fall.   Of the 6 seeds, only 4 germinated, all 3 green cotton plants and 1 white one.  I even made up a plant marker for the white one so that when I re-potted them, I'd know which was which.  Of course, this presumes that I would have put the marker in right when I finished potting the little white cotton seedling and not waited until I had them all planted, not knowing which was which!

This Cotton bloom is white but the other was pinkish in colour.
Over the summer, I didn't actually coddle the cotton plants.  It was so hot and muggy, all I ended up doing was making sure they were watered now and again.   Mainly I forgot about those poor little cotton plants.   Still, they grew a little bit.   One day I noticed that one of them had a little flower on it and a bud.   It was an Hibiscus type flower, very pretty but short-lived.  Because it was the only flower on any of the plants, I wondered about germination.  Did it need other flowers and a host of bees in order to create seeds and thusly bolls?  Hopefully it would be self pollinating because the trumpet vine was growing a little bit out of control and hiding it.  I'd been hacking back that poor Trumpet Vine, trying to keep it under control but had no idea what it was.  Last year I decided to let it go and see if it would flower, so I could tell what type of plant it was.  It finally flowered for about two days,but the chooks ate all the blooms! 

It's definitely autumn here and on Saturday, the temperatures were supposed to drop to about 6C.  I had some plants that needed to be repotted and brought inside for the winter.  So the Meyer Lemon, the Key Lime and the Basil were repotted to bring inside for the winter.  Two of the cotton plants looked worthy, so I took them out of the planters and put them into clean, new pots.  Then I took a good look at them.  Despite my neglect, there are two cotton bolls forming on one plant and the second plant has started flowering.  It has 2 more buds ready to bloom. I've no idea what colour cotton either of the plants will produce though. 

The cotton houseplant instructions suggest that I should stop watering the plant, to allow it to dry out and the bolls to finish developing.  However there are signs of more blooms developing, so I may let it go for a bit longer.  Does anyone know if it will harm the current developing bolls?

 I'm hoping to try this again next year.  I now know that I should plant the seeds in February or March to allow more time for the seeds to mature before they go outside.  As well, they'll go in the front, with more sunshine and I'll remember to feed them once in a while!  It would be fun to find a couple of brown cotton seeds to try out as well.  I love the idea of spinning naturally coloured cottons!

1 comment:

Leigh said...

You know, I live in a cotton growing area but have never seen a cotton plant up close! Beautiful plant. Actually, I don't think we're "allowed" to grow natural colored cotton here. Too much risk of cross pollinating Industry's crops. That's a nasty no-no.