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Protocol Information

Jan Schultz
Forest Plant Ecologist
USDA FS - Hiawatha National Forest
1030 Wright Street
Marquette, Michigan 49855

Family Scientific Name: Onagraceae
Family Common Name: Evening Primrose Family
Scientific Name: Epilobium angustifolium L.
Common Name: Fireweed
Species Code: EPAN2
General Distribution: Colonizes open fields, recently disturbed areas (fire) and roadsides. Full sun. Rich soil is best, growth of stems and leaves but few blooms. Does best on drier, well drained sites. Height up to 6' with beautiful magenta pink flowers.
Propagation Goal: Plants
Propagation Method: Seed
Product Type: Container (plug)
Propagule Collection: Seed is collected by hand from locally native plants within the eastern central Upper Peninsula. Cut entire flower spike and place upside-down in a large paper bag. Flowers from July to September. The seed is a linear capsule containing seeds with a terminal coma. The seed is harvested in September-October.
Propagule Processing: Dry seeds for 1-2 weeks in open paper bags or open Rubbermaid-style bins, shaking or turning seed heads. Seed is not cleaned. Once seeds have dried begin stratification.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Stratification: Mix the seeds with an equal amount of either perlite or vermiculite. Put mixture into a Ziploc-style bag or a Rubbermaid-style container. Seal the container and proceed with one month of moist cold stratification in a refrigerator or cold garage. Cold store until planted (up to 3 years).
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:

Propagation Environment: Greenhouse film is made of Standard U.V. 3HL Clear 6 mil (J.R. Johnson's Greenhouse Supply Inc.) Fans run continuously to circulate the air. Vents open during the summer months to allow for cooling. Container Type: grows best in 24 cell (2" diameter) 14"x8.5"x4" deep flats. Does not do well in deep and narrow plug cells. Sowing Media: Scotts Redi-earth Plug and Seedling Mix. Contains vermiculite, and sphagnum peat moss. Soil is sterile.

Thoroughly moisten the soil with water, mixing in the water with a trowel. Cover the holes in the bottom/sides of the plug tray cells with newspaper so that the soil does not fall out. Fill cells with damp soil and press soil down with a spoon. Refill the cell plugs with soil to the top, this time not pressing it down. Water the soil in the plug cells again. Sow the seeds by hand at a rate of about 3 seeds in each cell. Cover the seeds with a thin amount of soil. Sow year-round due to variable success rates. Approximately 50-75% of seeds germinate and make it to maturity.

Establishment Phase: From January until August the greenhouse thermostat is set at 65 degrees F both day and night. Ambient greenhouse temperatures may reach 100 degrees F during the day in the summer. From Sept. through Dec. the thermostat is set at 55 degrees F. During this season ambient greenhouse temperatures may reach 75 degrees F during the day. Soil is kept consistently damp during germination. Water using a fine mist or light hose setting only. Newly planted trays are placed on the south side of the greenhouse. No artificial light is used.
Active Growth Phase: The soil does not need to be consistently moist. The greenhouse holds plants at all stages of growth so the temperature setting stays the same for all plants at all stages of growth. Plant trays are moved to cooler north greenhouse tables. No fertilizers are used.
Hardening Phase: In early-late spring, mature plants can be moved into a cold frame with a cover of material that diffuses sunlight to prevent scorching of the plants. When danger of frost has passed leave plants outside. Water less frequently.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: In the Upper Peninsula, flats are transplanted into the field from late May to early October. Flats that are not transplanted in the summer remain in the greenhouse for another season.
Other Comments: Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Invades burned out northern forests in dense masses. Easy to grow. Seed difficult to collect as well as disperse due to vary tiny size. Seed is difficult to add to a seed mix because it is so light. Seed viable for a short-time only (approximately 18 months).

Schultz, Jan; Beyer, Patty.; Williams, Julie. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of container Epilobium angustifolium L. plants; USDA FS - Hiawatha National Forest, Marquette, Michigan. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org (accessed 31 August 2015). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.