Moist packing – what’s that?

As I was packing seeds today, I thought that maybe some people who never bought or they buy for the first time moist packed seeds may wonder what they would get.

Sometimes I get questions as well, so although I have shown pictures in previous posts, it is good to tell again. There is no secret; seeds that are known to be hydrophilic (to make a long story short – these are seeds which need to be sown right away after collecting or if not, kept moist to preserve their viability), are cleaned from the fruits and stored in slightly moist vermiculite in Ziploc bags. And no, there is no need to spray the seeds with anything chemical.

For shipping, the portion of seeds is placed in smaller bags with a bit of the moist vermiculite (*exception for US orders, when the seeds are are packed with a piece of moist paper towel). These seeds are to be sown right away after receiving.

Asarum canadense moist packed seeds for shipping

These small bags are not intended for storing the seeds long term! (I know someone tried to do that, that’s why I mention it). If you really want to keep the seeds longer, and /or provide stratification in the fridge instead of sowing, you need to transfer them in larger bags with added moist vermiculite (slightly moist peat works as well).

Very small seeds, like those of Coptis shown in the picture, are easily sown by spreading the content of the bag on top of the potting mix (no need to pick the seeds from the vermiculite). Even larger seeds are better sown this way.

Coptis trifolia moist packed seeds

In case of hydrophilic seeds, if kept dry they will either not germinate at all, or will germinate poorly/over a longer period of time. Keeping them moist and allowed the required cycles that mimic the natural conditions will result most times, in 100% germination in the spring. It is a lot of extra work but worth doing it.

Thank you! – Merci! to all our customers


Berberidaceae seeds and embryos

Update: GA3 treatment makes no difference for Caulophyllum or other species like it which have immature embryos; they need to be kept moist (or sown fresh) and allowed the required warm/cold cycles, multiple times in case of Caulophyllum (2-3 years).

Speaking about the inside winter gardening, this year I am trying to use GA3 to speed up the germination of Caulophyllum thalictroides (and a few others). There would be much to say about Caulophyllum seeds, from the fact that they develop outside the ovary and have a drupe-like look, they must be kept moist at all times after collecting, to the fact that they have a tiny immature embryo (it’s very hard to see it even with a hand-lens) but a gigantic corneous endosperm…
But I am only showing my new method of treating the seeds with a GA3 solution and then placing them back in vermiculite in the same small plastic bags, instead of using moist towel/Ziploc or sowing in pots. At this point, the embryos are most likely at the torpedo stage.

I think it is a great method for medium to large size seeds and a super space saver (which is of my high interest right now). It is easy to see if/when something germinates, and I had proof that the roots can grow quite a bit on the support they get from vermiculite (in contrast to keeping the seeds in moist towels, where the new roots get entangled and are easily damaged).

If someone is curious to browse the gallery (hover for caption): sectioned seeds/embryos of Caulophyllum, Podophyllum peltatum and of Ranzania japonica, a most intriguing species from the same family as Caulophyllum (Berberidaceae). Many members of this family, which simply fascinates me, are difficult to grow from seeds: think Epimedium, Podophyllum, Jeffersonia, Vancouveria…I will be most happy to grow Ranzania – it looks like a cool hybrid plant between Glaucidium and Anemonopsis!
A few Epimedium and Jeffersonia diphylla were sown early summer last year. We’ll see about that…

What’s cooking?

My kitchen has become a small scale operation – thinking fruit pies, jams and jellies?

Caulophyllum thalictroides

Caulophyllum thalictroides seeds

Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue cohosh) blue seeds will easily pass for blueberries but unfortunately are poisonous if ingested in large quantities. That’s very improbable to happen though because what seems like a big berry is actually a single huge seed surrounded by a thin fleshy and blue seed coat.

More likely to lose a tooth or two than being poisoned!

Caulophyllum thalictroides cleaned seeds

Caulophyllum thalictroides cleaned seeds

On the other hand, Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple) fruit it is/has been used to prepare jams and jellies. The big size fruit (hog apple, wild lemon, Indian apple), when fully ripen has a light yellow colour and a persimmon fragrance (in my opinion). It is actually the only part of the plant that’s not toxic.

Podophyllum peltatum fruits

Podophyllum peltatum fruits

To ensure good germination seeds of both species have to be placed in moist storage right away. They belong to a large category of species with hydrophylic seeds (intolerant of dry storage).

Also, both species are important North American medicinal woodland plants.

Podophyllum peltatum seeds

Mayapple seeds – enclosed in a gooey substance

PS. In case you have available large quantities of mayapple fruits to make jam, be kind and promote a sustainable harvest (always) by discarding the seeds in a nearby wooden area.