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FutureStarrDo Coneflower Seeds Need Stratificationer
Potted coneflowers are common finds at local nurseries and garden centers, but if you have a large area to fill with these colorful perennials or if you like a good gardening challenge, you might consider growing them from seed instead of purchasing plants. With the right technique, coneflowers are easy to grow from seed. You can collect the seed off of your own plants or the plants of a friend, or purchase coneflower seeds from any number of seed companies.
A second option is to plant the seeds in a container or flat filled with potting soil, water them in, cover the whole thing with a clear plastic bag, and then put the container in the fridge for 8 to 10 weeks. When the critical period passes, pull the container out of the fridge and put it under grow lights in a room that’s about 70 degrees. Once the seeds germinate about 10-14 days later, remove the plastic and continue to nurture the seedlings until they’re large enough to transplant out into the garden.Based on my experience, you do not need to stratify the seeds to achieve a high germination rate (80-90%). I wondered if there was any studies that examined germination rates on Echinacea with regard to stratification. Well, lo and behold I found a study that showed Echinacea Purpurea to have a 90% germination rate with zero stratification. Now, the study found cold stratification can raise the germination rate from 89% up to 98%. Additionally the study found that the days to first germination can improve from 7 days (no stratification) to 3 days (4 weeks stratification). Finally, that study found that 4 weeks of stratification could reduce the germination range (last germination day minus 1st germination day) from 23 down to 10 days.
Most home herbalists are aware of its medicinal properties and gardeners love it for its beauty, low maintenance requirements and as a mid to late season nectar source for beneficial insects. For these reasons, Echinacea has a place in nearly every garden and farm. But purchasing mature Echinacea plants from a nursery can be expensive and often some of the most interesting varieties (rare or endangered native prairie Echinacea varieties have only been available in seed form recently) are not available commerciallyCold stratification is a process that is easily replicated at home in a controlled environment. After the seed is planted into a good quality potting mix, water thoroughly until the soil is completely saturated but no longer dripping out the bottom drain holes (I like to plant one seed per cell in a 78 cell container). Then, wrap the top of the container in clear plastic wrap and secure it loosely with duct tape. Put a piece of tape on the top of the plastic wrap with a label indicating both the date the seed was planted and the date that you are removing the container from cold stratification. Also include the name of the cultivar that was planted in the container if starting multiple varieties or species at the same time. Place the container onto a cookie sheet or nested in another hole-less tray that will catch any excess moisture and eliminate any dripping or mess. (Source: www.motherearthnews.com)