my lily germination protocol

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:01:18 PDT
This protocol has worked well this year and is a repeat of 2011. In 2012 I held seed in first step at 60-70 F and the seed presented first leaves in spring of 2014.

This has worked for 35 seed lots of Lilium columbianum, L. washingtonianum, and L. bolanderi. Currently my collections of L. kellogii seem to be either germinating poorly or will present most leaves in spring 2015.

1.I set up a heated incubator inside a walk in cooler and set at 50F. No additional light other than weekly monitoring
2.I do not use the plastic bag technique.  Instead, after the seed is soaked 24 hours they placed in mesh bags that are sandwiched between layers of peat and fiberglas screen.For large lots the mesh bags are not used. Image <>
3.The first signs of germination are after 27 to 40 days. It varies with the seed lot. 
4.Once the seeds have a strong radicle I move them into small wooden boxes that stack, cheese cloth bottom and an inch or so of damp peat. I place the emptied nylon mesh bag loosely on top of the germinating seeds. Image <>
5. I keep the seeds in the warm incubator (50 F) and allow the radicles to grow into the peat and develop typical swollen rudimentary bulbs. The first leaves eventually emerge from these structures but not until the seeds are placed in cold stratification. The seeds are kept at 50 F for another 20 to 40 days or until the radicle ends are well swollen and true roots have emerged from this structure. Image <> 
6. At this point I move the wooden boxes into cool stratification (36F).
7. Then as is convenient I plant the seed into growing medium. I use deep Anderson trays, 16X16" and place 2 inches of promix (peat/perlite with mycorrhizae) on top of 2 inches of wood chip based compost.
8. The planted trays are then moved into a walk in cooler and held at 36 F until they start to present leaves in at least some of the trays.  As soon as a batch of trays were moved into the greenhouse heavy germination occurred in 5 days or less. 
image - a 180 degree panorama image of our (unfinished) greenhouse <>
image - normal pic of Amy and Rich in GH <>
image  a germinating tray of L. columbianum <> about 14 days after emerging.
image - 2011 seeding planted in field 2012 from trays, emerging now as 1 - 2 (3yo) plants, a few might bloom this year <>

This planting all batches were started by 10/15/13, all moved to cold by 1/1/14, all out of cold storage and into greenhouse by 4/5/14 = 172 days

Richard Haard, Propagation Manager
Fourth Corner Nurseries
5652 Sand Road
Bellingham, Washington, 98226.
360 592 2250
cell 360 201 5174

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