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Midland Diary Discussion: 06 July 2009

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Started by: Diane Clement

Midland Diary No 14 - Seed starts to ripen

Go to latest contribution by Diane Clement, 12 July 2009, 14:05. Go to bottom of this page.

Contribution from Diane Clement 06 July 2009, 20:47top / bottom of page

My new diary entry is here:

Please add any comments in this discussion thread. Thanks!

Contribution from Colin Dolding 06 July 2009, 21:28top / bottom of page

Pleased to see someone has started collecting seed (hopefully for the AGS Seed Exchange!)

Another interesting and informative blog with appropriate photographs.

Many thanks Diane.

I too have found no advantages to sowing Arisaema before April (mice are less active by then as well). Mine have germinated well this year (arisaemas not mice) but still do not have as many seedlings as you to contend with!

Colchicum however I find tend to germinate in February whenever I sow them.

My Hepaticas are all sown and being kept damp and away from the scorching sun, looking forward to some results in the spring. When should I pot on last year and year before's seedlings?

Contribution from Diane Clement 12 July 2009, 14:05top / bottom of page

Thanks for your comments, Colin. I’ll try and share my thoughts on your questions.


I have found Arisaemas to be fairly reliable as warm germinators, in that I have sown many over the years and rarely (maybe never?) had any germinate in the early spring.  In recent years I have sown them in April or May and they come up in a few weeks. 

I also have a problem with mice but here they will choose crocus and the clever ones can obviously read the labels as they tend to go for the more choice species.


Colchicums are another matter.  I did have two pots germinate earlier this spring, these were sown 3 or 4 years ago (and presumably they were waiting for a cold winter), but the ones in this blog were sown in May and germinated in June. I’ve never seen that pattern before, but I have sown many colchicums over the years and had very little germination to build up a reliable picture.


Hepaticas have a much more reliable germination pattern.  They are ephemeral seed, which means they must be sown fresh (although I have heard or the odd occasions of dry stored seed germinating).  However,  I always sow in May when the seed is ripe and falls from the plant. It then needs to be kept moist and shaded through the summer (not always easy) and then it should germinate next February or March. If they don’t germinate in the spring, don’t discard the pots, it’s worth waiting another year as they often will come up then.

The first year will usually see no more than the cotyledons and a couple of leaves. I then leave them in the same pots for another year (shading them in the summer). Some may then flower in the following year, but their third year will be the first flowering for many. Sometimes I don’t repot until after their first flowering.  They will not be very large plants at this stage, but it depends on how many you have in the pot whether you need to repot. If you don’t, then a little dilute feed spring and autumn may help. If you are growing interesting forms, you may need to wait 2 or 3 cycles of flowering to establish the mature flower forms. Don’t select or discard too early!  Repot in June is the accepted advice, I wish I had time to do it then, more often I get round to it in the autumn.   

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