Seed germination guides (was geophyte seed germination)

Tom Mitchell
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 03:51:04 PDT
I guess that many of you will already know of the following two  
compilations of seed germination techniques. and

I have used both, with some success, but I find that the germination  
regimes they prescribe are often unnecessarily complicated. Sowing  
seed on a sterile compost, covering with grit and leaving over winter  
in a cold frame works for me nine times out of ten (including for  
Narcissus and Tulipa seed, by the way). Top of my wish list for a  
truly valuable web-based seed germination guide would be some system  
for compiling feedback from people who have actually used the  
recommended techniques.

For example (apologies for the non-geophyte example), I was curious  
about the suggestion on the Ontario Rock Garden Society website that  
rose seeds germinate more readily after scarifying with concentrated  
sulphuric acid.

I divided a batch of wild-collected seed from a (still unidentified)  
rose species into batches of 50 seeds each and applied the following  
treatments: (1) no treatment; (2) soaking for 36 hours in water; (3)  
scarifying with sandpaper; (4) soaking for 6 minutes in 95% sulphuric  
acid followed by washing; (5) 12 minutes in sulphuric acid; (6) 30  
minutes in sulphuric acid; (7) one hour in sulphuric acid and (8)  
three hours in sulphuric acid.

The seeds were sown as described above and, one year later, the  
results are as follows: (1) no seedlings; (2 ) one seedling; (3) no  
seedlings; (4) no seedlings; (5) two seedlings; (6) six seedlings;  
(7) seven seedlings and (8)18 seedlings.

In other words, the recommended treatment works beautifully, but only  
if you soak the seeds for at least three hours. This is an anecdote,  
not a scientific experiment that I'm reporting but loads of these  
anecdotes are being accumulated and then lost again every day. I  
think it would be mighty useful to have some systematic means of  
collating anecdotes into a useable web tool.

Tom Mitchell,
Zone 7, in the west of England.

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