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Old 02-19-2013, 12:38 PM   #1
disuhan's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Burlington, VT
Default Need help with two species

I ordered seeds of Sporobolus heterolepis and Agastache scrophulariifolia back in early January, but they just came a few days ago. I wanted to winter sow them, but now I'm afraid it's too late.
William Cullina says in his book about propagating wildflowers that you don't need to cold stratify Agastache seeds, but since Sporobolus is a grass, he doesn't offer any info on it in that book, and I can't find much online about whether it needs cold stratification or not.

My secondary question is, if I put them out now to cold stratify, is it too late? If they don't need to be cold stratified, but start out in cold strat. do they still need a full 60 days of about 40 degrees? Or can they just "ignore" the cold and germinate when they're ready? I guess I'm asking is it an all or nothing situation - as in either keep them warm and they'll germinate when ready, or if they start in cold. strat, they have to stay in the full cold strat. required?

I don't really have space in my fridge to cold strat. them artificially, and I'm running out of time to do it naturally. I think I'm ok with the Agastache, but I have no idea about the Sporobolus.

Should I just sow the Agastache indoors? Will it be ready too early if I do it now?

Can someone tell me if the Sporobolus will germinate without cold stratification?

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Old 02-19-2013, 05:22 PM   #2
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Unfortunately I have no experience with either species, but I will tell you that I *just* put my first set of wildflower and little bluestem grass seeds out for winter sowing yesterday. I've got a lot more seeds to sow still...so they won't be out until next weekend most likely. However, checking back in my blog, I see that I'm actually ahead of schedule as compared to the last couple of years. The first two years I planted on February 21 (just a coincidence that the second year fell on the same day). Last year, apparently I was even later--February 29th. So, I'm *guessing* that, if they need cold stratification, you should still be fine.

Good luck, now let's wait to see what others say.

My other thought was to save some seed and plant them without cold stratification just to see if you can get them to germinate without.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:18 AM   #3
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Location: Wisconsin

Agastache scrophulariifolia has a recommended cold moist stratification period of 60 days. Sporobolus heterolepis does not need stratification, just plant it in situ when the time is right; it should germinate about a week after you sow it.

The agastache scrophulariifolia should be surface sown, don't bury the seed. If it's in trays or pots plastic wrap can be used to keep the seed moist. If you are planting it in the soil a very light covering of seed starter should work.

Cold moist stratification doesn't need to take up much room in the refrigerator. For a typical packet of seeds it would only require 2 - 3 tablespoons of sand placed in a pint size Ziploc freezer bag along with the seed and a dash of water to moisten the sand. Here's a post on the process:
Cold Moist Stratification - an Important Seed Treatment

On your second question, the important thing to note is that once seeds have been cold stratified they have to be planted at the end of the stratification period (whether or not it is the full recommended time). If you don't do the full recommended stratification period the germination rate for most species will probably be reduced; on a few species they won't germinate at all.

When seeds are being cold moist stratified they are taking up moisture and there are chemical processes taking place that prepare the seeds for germination. This is not a reversible process. Once you remove them from the stratification process they either germinate or die.

Cold moist stratification is not an absolute for most seeds. Most often it just significantly increases the germination rate. Many seeds that benefit from stratification will still have a few seeds germinate without it.

I always use stratification when it is recommended because there are many seeds that have a low germination rate to start with. Even with the best conditions and full period cold moist stratification germination rates remain below 50% for these difficult species.

I can't offer any advice on the winter sowing questions; I don't use that method.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:52 PM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Burlington, VT

Thanks for the helpful notes, NEWisc!

Dap, I like your idea:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
My other thought was to save some seed and plant them without cold stratification just to see if you can get them to germinate without.
I put out some of each species today, and will wait a month or two and try to do some without cold strat. to see if it works.

This is my first attempt (including the seeds that I collected from my current plants and sewed back in December and put outside) to grow my own plants, ever. So I'm learning a lot as I go. I'd be lost without you guys!
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:13 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: c. Mississippi

One of my favorite sites for propagation info for native plants is the NPIN database on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower website. Regarding your Sporobolus heterolepis seeds, they recommend:

Propagate by sowing unstratified seed in fall or stratified seed in spring. Sow 1/4 deep. Seeds prefer cool weather to germinate. Dropseed takes about three seasons to develop specimen size.
Seed Treatment: Dry stratification
Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed) | NPIN
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cold, cold period, germinate, germination, seed, seed germination, seed starting, seeds, species, stratification, stratify, warm

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