Growing from seed
Tue, 19 Nov 2002 20:06:04 PST
Dear All!

Here are a few experiences listed I gained when growing plants (not exclusively bulbs) from seed

Seed of unknown light requirements is sown in a pot and half of the surface is covered with seed compost or grit and the other half is not. There are a few pots that only show germination on one half of the pot, but mostly it does not matter.

Cyclamen seed is soaked in water with a few drops of liquid dishwasher 
detergent. this very reliably breaks dormancy and assures 100% germination if 
the seed itself is good.
All seed of Fabaceae and Malvaceae is being poured over with BOILING water. (I admit I put a very small amount of cold water in the cup first) Seeds that 
swell are planted those that don't receive one ore more repeated treatments. 
This gives near 100% germination.

I cover seed  with sed compost or grit, very find seed (Gesneriad) is left 
uncovered. Green fleshy seed of Amaryllids (Nerine, Amaryllis belladonna etc) 
is sown at the surface and left uncovered to enable photosynthesis of the seed.

Seed pots are sealed or covered in plastic etc as little as possible or not at all, except Gesneriad seed which are kept in a closed propagator. I lost far more seedling to damping off and mildew and too much humidity than I did 
through drought. Also I find that seedlings that germinate under high humidity grow tall and lanky and tend to fall over.

I use 3 or 4 inch plastic pots and find it important to have all pots of the 
same size in one batch so water requirement in the ungermiated state is even. 
Germinated pots are moved if their water needs begins to differ from the 
average of the seed batch.

The very best compost for growing bulbs, other plants with fragile root systems and to root cuttings is my new standard mix equal parts of Seramis, Perlite and coarse commercial potting compost. It is light weight, very porous, high air content at the same time excellent water holding capacity and will be fertililzed individually. Excellent results in germinating large Amaryllid seed in it, excellent large root systems. Not yet tried for small seed.

I always keep ungerminated seedling pots for at least one year, those of frost germinators even two years at least, weather-proof labelling is most important. Frost germiators are kept in a large open plastic box just covered with mesh to protect from mice and birds and left in the shade in the opem in my wonderful unpredictable winter weather.

Germinated bulbs seedlings are most prone to slug damage or complete 
disappearance overnight if slug pellets are not used in advance. They may be a source of mildew, though.

Well, all the best, greetings from frost germinator's weather in Germany, Uli

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