Those Crazy Plant Seeds
Sat, 18 Feb 2006 11:32:44 PST

I've put 2- or 3-dozen seeds pots back into growing conditions.  They are 
leftovers from last year.  We all know how it goes; we pot the seeds and the 
plants refuse to come up.  So, we can move on to other things, or try different 
conditions, etc.   I dried the pots down after 90 days or so, and put them in 
the garage (beastly hot in summer) where they stayed for many months until I 
brought them into the laundry room in fall.  

I kept meaning to put these pots out for a month of cool nights over December 
and January, but I forgot about them till early February.  So, I just watered 
them and put them under lights indoors (room temperature or a bit cooler).  

I'm happy to report that Moraea polystachya is showing a bit of green after 
just a week or 10 days.  It is the first species showing sings of life and I'm 
hoping that more species will germinate.  I read on an Aloe list that someone 
had success with Aloe polyphylla after seeds were a year in the seed pot.  You 
can never tell with seeds of wild plants, and I just happen to have a 
year-old pot of Aloe polyphylla seeds.  

LINK:  Plant Delights Nursery has a beautiful photo of M. polystachya.…   

The M. polystachya seeds were purchased from Silverhill Seeds and, as is 
usual for materials I get from that vendor, looked to be in very good shape and 
were free of chaff, etc.  I'm quite confident that most wild seeds that refuse 
to come up need some cold/wet vernalizing, or smoke treatment, a heat/fire 
shock, or some other witchcraft.  One year I had some Gardenia thunbergia seeds 
from Silverhill Seeds, and they refused to germinate.  Even after varied 
attempts and 18 months I could not get the silly seeds to germinate.  An email friend 
in England wrote to me that they germinated easily enough for him.  So, I 
wondered if the seeds were viable.  

I somehow fished out 2 or 3 of the seeds from the pot (forceps and magnifying 
glass and all that), I was able to determine 2 were viable when I added a few 
drops of tetrazolium.  The problem was "operator error" not "seed error."  
There are so many levels and mechanisms of seed dormancy.  I keep holly pots for 
3 years before I discard them; they are natives in this area and I just leave 
the pots outdoors exposed to the elements.  Most Ilex vomitora seedlings 
emerge in the second spring but some comes up a year later.   They need 2 full 
winters of "the elements" before the germinate and a few seem to need 2 full 

LINK:  Tetrazolium Test Information…  

I'm still waiting on some Hymenocallis galvestonensis seeds that were sent to 
me my Cynthia M. (PBS email friend).  They are not that easily found, and I 
really didn't know how to germinate them.  They ripened at the end of summer or 
even early fall.  So, I put them in a 2-gallon pot, buried them ¾ with soil, 
and put the whole affair under the wooden deck.  They are big fleshy seeds, 
the type you might expect would want to germinate quickly rather than over 
winter.  I checked them recently and they are holding their own, so as soon as the 
danger of frost is over I'll move them to a brighter location but out of hot 
sun (Cross your fingers Cynthia).  


Conroe Joe
P.S.  If someone has Gardenia thunberia seeds, I'd like to trade for them and 
try that species again.  

More information about the pbs mailing list