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Seed germination

  • Subject: [PHOTO] [iris-photos] Seed germination
  • From: "Dan Meckenstock" dmeck@eaglecom.net
  • Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 17:49:58 -0500

I've seen several reports of lower percent germination.  For the last two years, I've gotten over 80% germination by using Jiffy-7 peat-pods.  Here is how I do it.
I buy the Jiffy-7 pods from https://www.veseys.com/sub.cfm , 1,000 pods at a time.
I'm in Kansas. I plant the first week of October.  My germination bed is outside, exposed to the elements, but strategically placed out of the wind.
After expanding the Jiffy-7 pods in tap water, I insert a numbered label in each pod. Last year, I used a popsicle stick cut in half.
I use a pencil to make a hole, about 1/2" deep and plant one seed per pod. Lightly squeeze the pod to close the hole.
After I have a tray (i.e., a cookie baking sheet) prepared, I place the pods in the ground keeping the tops of the pods at ground level.  I use a 2x4 wood frame which allows me to row the pods out and helps me keep track of each pod. I fill in spaces between the pods with plotting soil.
Once in the ground, I staple a plastic screen over the frame so the pods do not pop out. I also fence-off the frame to keep the critters out.
When the leaves fall, I cover the pods with leaves ( about 2"). After that, I pretty much forget about them. I may water once or twice if we don't get any precipitation after a 3 week period.  It is important to establish a wetting a drying cycle as this helps pull the abscisic acid out of the seed. BTW, abscisic acid inhibits germination.
Plants germinate in March and I transplant in late April, after they have 2-3 leaves.  The attached photo shows my seedlings after I have removed the leaves and protective screen and getting ready to transplant.  This year I left the nylon mesh on the pods so as not to disturb the roots when I transplanted. The mesh does not appear to harm the development of the seeding and speeds-up the transplant process.
Planting in the pods in the ground and covering with leaves serves as a natural temperature and moisture buffer that protects against a hard freeze and prolonged dry periods. I have noticed the pods the remain covered with leaves tend to germinate earlier than exposed pods.
You can zoom into my picture to get a better idea of my system.  Note the albino seedlings in the upper right corner. These are from a pink amoena self that eventually died. High percent germination is critical if you are trying to determine segregation ratios. It also increases the satisfaction you get from your labor, regardless your objective.
If you already have your seeds planted in pots, you may want to consider burring them in the ground and covering with leaves.
Good Luck to all.
Dan Meckenstock


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