Saturday, January 12, 2013

Starting From Seed

Propagating plants falls into three categories: grafting, cuttings, and seeds.  Of the three, starting a plant from seed is the least complicated approach.  Reduced to the basics, it only involves burying a seed in the soil.  After millions of years, mother nature decided this was the best approach.

Of course, if you have one seed and you want it to germinate there are some extra precautions to take.  At Wildwood Farm, we’re taking some of these extra steps to ensure we have Dogwood seedlings to use as rootstock for summer grafting.  Dogwood seeds, like many types of seeds, need a period of cold before they will germinate.

Winter will do.  So will the refrigerator, and it’s much safer.  Before you put the seed in the frig, clean off all the pulp/ fruit.  Then, moisten some soil, squeeze out excess water by hand, and seal it a ziplock.  If you’re only doing a few seeds, you can start them in a 4” container and save yourself a step later [transplanting].  After three months of cold, the seeds will be ready to plant.

Some seeds, like Viburnum, need a period of warm before the cold.  They’re the primadona seeds.  At this point, we’re at month two of cold stratification for our dogwoods.  It’s important to check them at month two to see if they’re germinating.  No roots were showing so we put them back for another month.

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