delayed seed germination

Kathleen Sayce
Thu, 13 Feb 2014 22:16:50 PST
The subject of delayed germination was mentioned a few days ago, so I am offering a couple of examples from my yard (which includes the driveway, lawn, garden beds, shrub areas, gravel walkways, firewood storage area, potting shed, and clothes drying area). 

A few years ago I bought Cyclamen graecum seeds from the PBS seed exchange. They were potted out, nothing happened for 3 years, so I tossed the pot contents one summer day when I was cleaning up the seed pot area 2 years ago. This year, 3 seedling leaves appeared where the pot was tossed, making this five years from start to appearance of new seedlings. Not sure they'll survive the winter, however, as we've had two rounds of snow and temperatures into the mid to low 20s (F) so far. If the leaves still look good after the next few storms blow through, I will pot up these seedlings and put them somewhere a bit more protected. At least, I think these are Cyc. graecum. The leaves are a very different shape from the Cyc. hederifolium and coum seedlings I have elsewhere in the yard, but ants drag seeds of the former species all over. 

Then, four years ago, a friend gave me some old Erythronium hendersonii seeds. I sent most of the seed on to the PBS seed exchange, put a few in a large pot, and waited. Nothing. Last year, one seedling leaf appeared. I scrape the moss off each year, add fresh gravel, by the way. This week I was checking the pot and saw dozens of tiny leaves emerging all over the surface. I do not recall how many seeds I planted. But it is clear that it took them a few years to decide to germinate, perhaps indicating that the seeds were fairly old. 

Gardening, and growing bulbs from seed, seems to be all about patience. 

Kathleen Sayce
PNW coast, where it's blowing, and about to start raining again

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