Seed germination

John Lonsdale
Wed, 22 Jan 2003 16:22:06 PST
You might recall an earlier discussion regarding whether sown seeds of geophytes preferred to be moist or dry during subsequent summers if they did not germinate.  Well, in the case of Fritillaria it seems the answer is - they don't care.  Today, out in the small greenhouse I use to germinate all my bulb seed I found nearly 40 pots of germinating frit seed - species from all corners of the world.  These had been kept constantly moist.  This time last year I moved the pots of then germinating frits into the large greenhouse and kept them completely dry once the seedlings had entered summer dormancy.   Some of these pots of frits had been sown quite late and germination was quite poor, in some cases only a single seedling appeared. But, lo-and-behold, the remaining seeds in those pots have sprung into life also, coinciding with the reappearance of their year-old brethren.  They started to receive water again in mid-September, having been dry for over 3 months.  It would thus appear that many (most ?) frit seeds can completely dehydrate for several months after initial hydration and sowing without any loss in viability.  I have noticed a similar occurrence in several pots of crocus seedlings also, so maybe in the case of these bulbs a drier summer might not be a bad thing ?  After all, that is presumably what ungerminated seed experience in the wild.

Juno iris seeds are also starting to germinate nicely.  I had to move a paraffin heater into the small greenhouse tonight as the electric heater can't cope when we get below 10F or so, pots around the edges start freezing.  We are forecast minima in the low single figures for the next few nights, with a high of 18F on Friday - having not been above freezing for a while at all now.  The garden is quiet.


Dr John T Lonsdale
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

Phone: 610 594 9232
Fax: 801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at

Zone 6b

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