Warm & Cold Games

Part I

Suddenly it got cold and we have had the first snow; not unexpected for this time of year. Not the same I can say about the Hepatica americana seeds I found germinated, with their radicles quite extended! This is most interesting because Hepatica species have immature embryos at the time of collecting (May-June) and need periods of warm and then cold for embryo development before germinating.

Hepatica americana - germinated seeds without cold period

Hepatica americana – germinated seeds without cold period

This year I have been careful to collect and keep separate a few Hepaticas forms that I am personally interested in. All the germinated seeds belong to a collection made in 30 May from a plant with intermediate characters between americana and acutiloba (although the saying goes hybrids do not exist between these two). None of the other Hepatica collections are germinating and I sowed quite a few already.

Speaking of which, this is an excellent time to start sowing many species that need to undergo a cold/moist period to germinate, ideally outdoors – in our climate, the natural temperature fluctuations are the best to break the dormancy of many species.
If someone needs a bit of help, here’s what I do, plain and simple:

  • Have ready a few pots; sowing mix, labels; fill the pots 3/4, tap the mix lightly. Sow, label, top up with grit, small gravel or vermiculite (I used vermiculite only because I have a gigantic bag of it).

  • Place the pots in a shallow container and add water so they’ll absorb water through capillarity.

  • If you have only few pots, enclose them in a Ziploc bag and ‘hide’ it in a shaded position; you don’t really need a shed or frame; cover with leaves or a piece of cloth, and then the snow will act as insulation. A garden bench/chair can be easily used as ‘pots keeping’ location.

  • If you went all the way and have a whole tray, no worry- wrap it up in a sheet plastic/garbage bag, and ‘hide it’ as well in a shaded position. Early spring, start checking inside the Ziplocs/unwrap the plastic, and move the pots in a half sun location; eventually add a mesh on top to protect from critters.

  • Don’t forget to watch for the first signs of germination!!!

I’ll be back as more warm/cold games and sowing practices unfold…

2 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      I tried to keep it very simple. I think especially in our climate, some people are intimidated of starting perennials from seeds because it seems much more complicated than sowing annuals.

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