Seed Propagation methods

Mary Sue Ittner
Fri, 06 Feb 2009 10:41:03 PST
Dear Byron,

I've tried it both ways and I live not far from you and have had the best 
success starting most winter growers in the fall and most summer growers in 
the spring which best mimics the conditions they would have in nature. So I 
store seed packets of winter growers I receive now in a glass jar in the 
refrigerator and start them in the fall. Even though it doesn't get really 
hot in San Rafael, a lot of things will stop growing as the days get longer 
and warmer and you may not have a large enough bulb or corm to last out the 
period of dormancy since if they germinate they will have only been growing 
a few months. Most California native seed lasts fairly well. The one 
exception in this method for me has been Calochortus seed which I often 
started in January but mostly because where I live it usually rains a lot 
in winter and I don't like using chemicals and the seedlings often died in 
the wet moist conditions we'd have in winter and were more likely to 
survive if they germinated under drier conditions. And I was growing them 
outside. And they didn't go dormant as fast as say South African Irids that 
in my experience really responded to the change of weather by going 
dormant. Whether or not the seed can be stored or needs to be started right 
away is a major factor. A lot of amaryllid seed as you point out has to be 
started right away as it germinates very quickly or doesn't last well in 

Some people have found it sometimes works to plant the seed when you get it 
and just let nature do what it will. In this method the seed may wait to 
come up at the right time.

This list discussed starting things from seed as a topic of the week in 
2002 and you can find in the archives the responses under growing from seed:…

Also look for difficult seeds in those same archives since that was the 
second topic of the week.

Finally in 2000 I compiled a list of a lot of genus specific suggestions 
that people contributed on another list that I saved which I sent to Diane 
when she first asked the question. It's a bit long for our list and I don't 
really have permission from all those people to repost their ideas on a 
public forum, but am happy to share it privately.

The wonderful thing about our BX (at least for people in the same 
hemisphere) is that seed is often given at a time that is close to the time 
it is best to sow. Once a year seed exchanges don't have that luxury.

Mary Sue

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