Thursday, November 4, 2010

Indian paintbrush (Castilleja hispida, I think), left; Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), right

Today I'm going to try an experiment to see if I can grow Indian paintbrush in the prairie. I collected this seed on nearby Kamiak Butte, where there are tons of a very beautiful Indian paintbrush, shades of orange that could restore your faith in that color as a decorating statement. The story on Indian paintbrush is that it is a semi-parasite on other plants (a couple of people mentioned that Idaho fescue was one of them), but I had never heard of anyone getting it to grow, so I had never tried it. But then Jacie Jensen at Thorn Creek Nursery told me that she had heard of success when the paintbrush seed is planted at the same time as Idaho fescue, that they need to sprout in the same season. So today I will mix these together in many little clumps throughout the prairie, mostly-sunny spots with a little shade from a nearby Ponderosa pine or shrub, which is where I see them growing up on Kamiak Butte.