Helleborus and Paeonia seedlings

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Mon, 08 Apr 2013 15:52:28 PDT
I also do not scarify Paeonia seed. Usually the first leaves appear 
after two periods of winter chill, but this year I was surprised to 
have a few germinate after one cold period. I transplant them into 
individual 4-inch pots when they go dormant the autumn after the 
leaves first grow, then plant them out in one more year.

Paeonia seeds can, however, remain dormant longer and still be 
viable. When I mixed potting soil to move many plants from my old 
garden to the new one two and a half years ago, I included the soil 
from old abandoned seed pots. Now I have Paeonia seedlings coming up 
here and there in the new garden (mostly in completely inappropriate 
places) where I set in the other plants.

Helleborus, in contrast, germinates much better when the seeds are 
sown fresh; they will germinate, generally just forming cotyledons, 
the following spring. This spring my old garden has hundreds of 
hellebores in flower, mostly the "hybridus" kind but also some 
species. They have not been watered for two summers. There is a fine 
H. purpurascens there, but I felt it was too mature to move; last 
week I took some seedlings from near it, and I hope at least one of 
them resembles the seed parent. Young hellebore plants move much 
better than larger ones.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

At 03:38 PM 4/8/2013, you wrote:
>I never scarify peony seed and it comes up without problems.  It 
>does seem as though there are always a few that rot, but for me it 
>has been minor.  The most important requisite for germination seems 
>to be a nice cold period.  Even here in Zone 9 on the southwest 
>coast of Oregon, peony seed apparently gets enough chill to germinate.
>Robin Hansen
>Hansen Nursery

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