Difficult Seeds--PBS TOW

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sun, 01 Dec 2002 11:49:40 PST
Mary Sue asked,
>No one has responded to the question of growing Crocus from seed. I too 
>have had germination sometimes the following year or 4 or 5 months after 
>sowing. Any help from the experts? Or is this to be expected.

I am not an expert but have grown about 60 species from seed, so will
respond. Crocus germination patterns are as varied as crocuses are.
Remember that some bloom in fall, and they grow in every sort of habitat
from bare desert to alpine bogs, and in climates ranging from frost-free to
severely continental.

Seed planted before January and left outdoors but covered typically
germinates around March here. Seed planted later may germinate in late
spring, in which case it grows through the summer. Some species typically
germinate the second year no matter when you plant them.

It is advisable to keep the seedlings in their seed pots (supplying weak
fertilizer while in growth, and not drying them off severely while dormant)
for two years because the corms are so small. I also think all species
should be protected from severe freezing while in growth as seedlings, even
species like C. vernus that are extremely cold-hardy.

I suspect that failure of seed to germinate is probably the result of
rotting (if the seed was good to start with -- it can be hollow when you
get it), so a very well drained medium is useful. Also, some of the
wet-growing species may be intolerant of the seed becoming dried out; I
suppose that is why I have not been able to germinate C. pelistericus on
the two occasions I have obtained seed from exchanges. However, C.
scharojanii (wild-collected) has germinated here, though it has not yet
flowered for me.

Jane McGary
Northwest Oregon

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