Seed Starters East has been meeting in Portsmouth RI at a small wholesale nursery year-round for almost 30 years. Our primary purpose is to learn about propagating native plants, and an added benefit is that we supply several thousand plants for the RIWPS plant sales.
We use multiple propagation methods, such as rooting cuttings and dividing mature plants as well as starting seeds and seeking out suitable sources for seeds or cuttings. In a few cases we purchase tiny plants or bulbs from wholesale sources to grow out. A few of our favorites to propagate regularly from seed are jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and the native (sundial) lupine (Lupinus perennis). We’ll usually have over a hundred different species in our inventory prior to a sale. There are multiple species that we need to cultivate for several years in order to reach a size suitable for our sale.
We’ve also collected and packaged seeds of some popular species, such as milkweeds, to make available to RIWPS members. Some members also tend seeded containers over the winter or care for tiny transplants at home. Several participants undertake significant propagation of plants totally at home to contribute to the plant sales.
Our regular schedule is the second and fourth Thursday mornings of each month. From April through June we meet weekly to prepare for plant sales, and we may alter the regular schedule at other times if the plant sale schedule or a holiday requires it. For additional information contact Dorothy Swift.
Seed Starters West is a more recent group and works from March through June in an unheated greenhouse in Exeter RI.
We cultivate and share our knowledge of native plants as we cultivate plants for the RIWPS plant sales. We nurture Rhode Island native perennials and shrubs that we purchase wholesale or native plants that have been donated by RIWPS members and friends for the sales. We have also collected seeds, overwintered them in containers and then readied them for the sale. We help manage the May sale and volunteer at the June sale.
In season we typically meet two mornings a week and during the year we meet a few times to plan for the spring and also to share our plant experiences. For additional information contact Helen Drew.