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Old 01-11-2012, 11:24 AM   #1
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greenthumb Seed Germination Codes and Instructions for Native Plants

Most native seeds need some kind of seed treatment before sowing. Seed treatments are used to prepare the seed for germination. Some seeds will not germinate at all and others will have a very low germination rate without these pre-germination treatments. For example, one common treatment is cold moist stratification. This is simply keeping the seed cold (about 35 - 40 F) and moist for a specified time, usually 30 - 90 days before sowing. Other treatments can include hot water treatment, light requirements, scarification, warm moist stratification, etc.

There are some good online sources of information on seed treatments for native seeds. The one I use most is Prairie Moon Nursery's seed germination guide:
Seed Germination Instructions :: Prairie Moon Nursery
To find the code for your seed, just look up your seed in their list of seeds. Each species page gives the germination code for that plant. Find the code in the link above and you are ready to apply the correct seed treatment.
Seeds :: Prairie Moon Nursery

Another helpful website is the Native Plant Network's propagation protocol database.
Propagation Protocol Search
Just type in the Genus and Species or select from the drop down list. The information here can be a little bit sparse, some of the authors assume that the searcher is already familiar with germination methods. Others provide detailed instructions for large scale growers. Nevertheless, the information here is usually helpful.

The codes used at each website do vary, so be sure to use the right code for the right website.


If you want to explore the science of seed germination, Dr. Norman C. Deno's book "Seed Germination Theory and Practice" and his first and second supplements are now online:
http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/catalog/41278
http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/catalog/41279
http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/catalog/41277

These are large pdf files, so if you are on a slow internet connection you will have to be patient, they take a long time to download. In addition to the theory of seed germination, these books contain germination instructions on several thousand difficult to germinate seeds. Not all of the species covered are native North American plants, but many of them are. The seed germination instructions for each species is listed alphabetically in his books, but there is no index. If you would like to see the species covered in his books you can download an index compiled by Tom Clothier here:
http://tomclothier.hort.net/page15.html
This is a zipped file, so you have to download the file and unzip it before you can use it.


If you know of good online sources for seed germination of native plants please add them to this thread.
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Last edited by Cirsium; 02-07-2015 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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Prairie Moon has packets of most seeds for 2 dollars,,I paid 5 dollars shipping for 5 packets and ordering now will get you a free packet of common milkweed seeds. Nothing is worse than procrastinating and getting an e-mail or web page that shows out of stock. Beware this happens more with live-plants than the seeds, From my understanding Prairie Moon does give seeds to Plains Restorers so it makes sense to order early and give your seeds plenty of time to cold stratify. Last year the Milkweed seeds from Havalotta only took thirty days to germinate. Thankfully I had built some framework for grow lights and grew some healthy starts, The milkweed was so thick the baby rabbits were using it for cover. I ordered Cassia hebecarpa and Lespedeza capitata which came with the required inoculant. Silphium integrifolium, Monarda fistulosa, Liatris ligulistylis will also be started around St. Patrick's day under the grow lights.
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Old 02-07-2015, 01:39 PM   #3
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Bump for related post.
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:41 PM   #4
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Good bump, NEWisc. I keep Prairie Moon Nursery's Cultural Guide as a reference and find it invaluable!
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Old 02-19-2015, 07:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kchd View Post
Good bump, NEWisc. I keep Prairie Moon Nursery's Cultural Guide as a reference and find it invaluable!
I keep my new Prairie Moon catalog each year and try to find a friend to pass my "used" ones along to. Nice way to introduce others to the wonders of native plants.....and to the awesome folks at Prairie Moon!
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Old 02-19-2015, 08:03 AM   #6
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I browsed through a copy myself just last week.
I really don't have any more room to plant anything new out back but it's nice to look at during the frigid months.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kchd View Post
Good bump, NEWisc. I keep Prairie Moon Nursery's Cultural Guide as a reference and find it invaluable!
I do too. I remember how much it confused me when I first got it, now I passed that confusion off to my husband yesterday when I asked him to give me a price limit on how much to order. He kind of stared at the thing a little while until I showed him how to use it. Then after perusing it, being shocked at some of the grass seed prices, he told me to get what was needed, but didn't give a limit. I'll just try to limit myself since I know I could go wild otherwise.

I will get 1/8 acre of the Jungle mix to sow if this snow will ever melt. I enjoy birds, but if that seed just sits on top of the snow, what a temptation for them, thus being a very expensive bird seed. I am also looking at some A code, warm season grasses to throw down behind the goats to get something growing yet this year. I also want to get more flowers. I decided against the Prickly Pear cactus for the south side of the house, but will put Wild Senna there instead. The cactus still sounds neat, but since I am trying to keep most things Tallgrass Prairie, that wouldn't belong.

I am curious about Code B. What conditions in the wild would mimic pouring hot water over seeds?

Have you ever sent or received seeds through the mail in just an envelope? Someone sent me seeds this way recently, so the seeds went through the smasher. Not many look whole. Thinking about this, could the postal masher be used for scarification? I am partially serious, wondering if this could work. I am buying more of the seeds to supplement the smashed as I really wanted to try these.
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
I am curious about Code B. What conditions in the wild would mimic pouring hot water over seeds?
A wildfire stimulates some species into germinating.
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Old 02-19-2015, 01:32 PM   #9
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A wildfire stimulates some species into germinating.
I hadn't thought of that, but I guess replicating a wildfire may not be an option for some.
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Old 02-19-2015, 01:44 PM   #10
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Good point and yet if you think about it a bit further....Wildfires can actually add particles into the air, which in turn could condense and form rain if there's moisture in the air to begin with.

Thus, hot ground, a bit of rain and there you have it. Pouring hot water over the seed.
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