Starting Native Plants from Seed – Part 2!
By: Carrington Lauzon, owner eARTh Revival and Pollinate Collingwood Director
Welcome Back!! In part two of this post, we cover two methods for germination code C: cold stratification, including options for both indoor or outdoor sowing of treated seeds. Check it out below…
GERMINATION CODE C : Cold moist Pre-treatment
For both methods: Check once a week to ensure the seed hasn’t completely dried out. If premature sprouting occurs, plant immediately
PAPER TOWEL OR COFFEE FILTER METHOD:
Suited for containers or flats
Wet a paper towel or coffee filter and allow excess water to drain off. Arrange seeds in a single layer on 1/2 the surface, then fold the paper into a quarter. Place the folded paper in a labeled resealable bag or container and put it in the refrigerator for the recommended time.
Suited for outdoor garden bed or pots/flats
Place seeds and sand in a bowl, add 1 to 2 tsp of water, or enough water to form the sand into a ball. Mix together. Place this in a labeled container or resealable bag and refrigerate for the recommended amount of days.
Starting in pots or flats:
- After applying the pre-treatment, place the seeds in a container filled with moist growing medium soil, and lightly cover them to a depth the same size as the seed, or surface sow.
- Place the containers under grow lights or in a sunny window.
- Ensure the seeds stay moist throughout the germination period
- Wait until the seedlings have matured enough, forming a second or third set of leaves before transplanting outside. Do not plant outside before your region’s frost free date.
Starting in pots or flats:
Outdoor weather varies, and soil temperatures determine when your seedlings will emerge. Cool-season plants typically germinate in May, while warm-season plants may not sprout until the soil warms in June.
- You may use: regular plant pots, large yogurt containers, large bottles cut in half, large milk cartons cut in half, salad containers. Ensure you poke holes at the top and bottom for drainage, and label!
- Fill the container with soil (at least 3” deep), and water. Place the seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover or surface sow.
- Place the pots or flats on the north side of a building, or out of direct sunlight, and protect the seeds from rodents by placing plexiglass/chicken wire/screen over top, or put containers in a bag or box.
- When the snow melts, move the containers to a sunny location, remove the lid fit they have one and keep moist.
Starting in outdoor garden bed:
- Prepare the outdoor bed by removing weeds and levelling off the area.
- You may place the seeds in a prepared garden bed throughout Fall (November/December), or sow them in early Spring (March) if the pre-treatment is 60 days or less.
- If you don’t sow outdoors in Fall or early Spring you will need to apply the required pre-treatment for seeds before sowing them in an outdoor garden bed in Spring.
- To distinguish your native plants from weeds, plant one species in each spot and make a sketch or label of what you planted there. You may also decide to plant in rows and then transplant seedlings afterwards.