Problems with Cultivation and Identification: seed sowing SAfrican bulbs
Started by: Caroline Reeves
when to sowGo to latest contribution by Paul Cumbleton, 27 September 2007, 14:32. Go to bottom of this page.
I've just purchased seed from Silverhill seeds and although received germination instructions would welcome any advice from UK growers. if it recommends Autumn sowing should I keep the seed in a fridge until Sept or sow now not expecting germination until autumn?
There are two schools of thought here, and success has been had with both techniques. First there are the 'sow it as soon as you get it' adherents, and then the 'I sow all my seed on New Years Day' (N Hemisphere!) gang. Personally, I am a member of the second lot, but it is certainly important that the seed does straight into a domestic fridge at 4-5C as soon as you get it and stays there until you sow it after Christmas. I have been successful with seed collected from NZ, Australia and S. Africa doing this, but I know some successful growers of NZ seed who sow it as soon as they receive it (March/April). If you do this, take care that the seed, (or if you are very lucky, seedlings) are not dried/cooked in a warm spell in summer!
I know this advice is far too late, but having only just seen this thread I thought I should write for future reference. Sorry John, but I would disgree with you on this one. South African seeds that come from the winter rainfall areas and thus sown in autumn need different storage treatment to many other seeds. In the wild, the seeds mature in late Spring and then fall off as the plants die down for their summer dormancy. The seeds then sit around in the hot baking sun of an African summer until the cooler temperatures and rainfall in the autumn stimulate germination. When they first fall off the plant they are not truly mature and they NEED the warm summer period to undergo a period of further chemical changes that result in them being ready for germination later. When you get seed, if you store it in the fridge you will bring this period of so-called "after-ripening" to a halt and this will lead to poor results when you sow. So the best proceedure for winter-growing stuff from South Africa is to store the seed somewhere WARM and dry over the summer. Many of us simply keep it in the greenhouse, or a warm room in the house. Then sow it at the start of September and put it outside in a cool and shady place. Germination of most things is usually fairly rapid - within 6 or 7 weeks for a lot of the S.A. bulbs. Once germinated, take into the greenhouse in full light.