How to Stratify Seeds OR.

How to Stratify Seeds OR.

How to Stratify Seeds

I spend a lot of the winter months here in Vermont flipping through garden catalogs and dreaming of my spring garden. They’re full of beautiful pictures and text designed to convince you to grow just about everything under the sun. The problem is when those little seed packets arrive there’s often an extra step before planting: Cold Stratification. Starting seeds for your garden in the spring is a different matter, as those seeds have likely been in a warm, room temperature packet all winter long. No worries, it’s easy enough to stratify seeds at home before planting.


I’ve been caught off guard by the need to cold stratify seeds more than once, and now I look over the planting instructions on every single packet as soon as they arrive. The catalogs always gloss over the technical details of growing particular crops, but the seed packets are a wealth of information. Take a look at the packets, and they’ll say something like “Stratify seeds for 6 weeks before planting” or “seeds require 5 days cold, moist stratification to break dormancy.”Many wildflowers—especially native varieties—have clever mechanisms in place that help protect them from germinating too early in the spring or too late in the summer. These varieties re-seed naturally in the wild and stay dormant until the proper time for them to start sprouting. More and more gardeners are seeing the benefits of growing native varieties in their landscapes and with a simple technique called cold stratification, you can easily add these wildflowers to your garden in the spring.

Stratification is a process of pre-treating seeds in order to simulate natural conditions that seeds would experience in the soil over-winter. Pre-treating seeds helps the seed "break dormancy" and initiate the germination process. Stratification pre-treatments are applied when the seed is being propagated in a greenhouse setting or in a way/schedule that is not aligned with the natural germination cycle. Seeds and seed mixes which are sown outdoors in the fall do not require stratification pre-treatment.Dry stratification is a seed pre-treatment in which the seed is subjected to cold temperatures of 32ËšF or lower, for a period of a month or longer. This simple treatment of keeping the seeds in cold, dry storage helps increase germination rates by immitating a natural winter dormant period. Many native prairie species require only Dry Stratification. This can be accomplished in temperate climates by storing the seed in Ziploc bags in a refrigerator, or in a rodent-proof container in an unheated building over winter for 30-120 days (depending upon the species). Most warm season prairie grasses and wildflowers require only 30 to 60 days of dry stratification to break seed dormancy. (Source:www.prairienursery.com)



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