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Propagation (seed, cuttings, etc): Gentianella campestris Seed germination

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Started by: Sarah Curtis

How best to germinate Germinate Gentianella campestris (field gentian) seed

Go to latest contribution by Sarah Curtis, 09 December 2011, 09:21. Go to bottom of this page.

Contribution from Sarah Curtis 05 December 2011, 15:03top / bottom of page
Student request

I'm a student at SA/RBGE and my Hons project is on Gentianella campestris. I have some wild collected seed and i'm looking for information from anyone who has germinated thisand or grown it either successfully or unsuccessfully. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated.

PS. I have permissions and consents for the seed I collected.

Contribution from Margaret Young 05 December 2011, 15:40top / bottom of page

It is some time since we grew Gentianella campestris and we never had much success in getting a good seed set from garden grown plants.

Seed sown now and left outside to get the benefit of cold stratification will germinate in early Spring. We would sow in a general seed mix of loam/leafmould and sand by equal volumes. The seed, while not long-lived, does not appear to be overly fussy as to depth of sowing. Seed either sown halfway down a seed pot or just under the surface covering of gravel seems to do just as well. Once seedlings are growing on strongly, a little light feeding can be given... though we more often than not forgot to do that and the plants still made reasonable rosettes and flowered in their secong full season. As I say, the lack of good seed set on the resulting plants was a disappointment and so we were not able to keep the plant in cultivation over a long period.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 05 December 2011, 16:15top / bottom of page

Sarah - I have never grown this pretty little plant but do have the related Centaurium scilloides which self-sows gently on my sand bed outside. I would agree mostly with Margaret and treat the seed like Gentiana verna, sown fresh in the autumn if possible and allowed to go through the cold period of winter. Usually fresh gentian seed like this will germinate very well in spring, though the seedlings are very small and tricky to prick out. However, I wouldn't cover the seed except with a very light layer of grit, because it is so fine and some gentians at least seem to need light for good germination. Good luck.

Contribution from Margaret Young 05 December 2011, 19:01top / bottom of page

I don't think that the G. campestris seed is light dependent for germination, Tim. Our expereince suggests it is not and although I can no longer find the notes given to me by a late friend who was doing a bit of work on such plants from Scotland, I have at least remembered a Swedish paper that he mentioned and I have found a reference online, though only an abstract.

The paper is 'Germination ecology of the endangered grassland biennial Gentianella campestris' by Per Milberg, Department of Crop Production Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden published in Biological Conservation

Volume 70, Issue 3, 1994, Pages 287-290 ... the abstract is here :

Contribution from Tim Ingram 05 December 2011, 19:24top / bottom of page

Thanks Margaret! Sarah refer back to Margaret's reply! I have learnt something too.

Contribution from Sarah Curtis 06 December 2011, 08:50top / bottom of page

Thank you Margaret and Tim.

Margaret I have that paper, thanks. It's good to hear some "tried and tested" theories from people to back up the lieterature as often the literature is contradictory.

Once I had air-dryed the collected seed I put it into paper packets in a tupperware box in the fridge. It's been there for a couple of months now and I hope to get it to germinate in a growth chamber in January. The the fridge has been the stratification (hopefully) and if I set up the chamber to have March/April average temperature and daylight length the seed should be tricked into "thinking" it'spring and germinate. Fingers crossed. Thanks again.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 06 December 2011, 09:42top / bottom of page

Sarah - is the seed moist and imbibed in the fridge (I have often used slightly damp sand or vermiculite)? If not it will not have received a stratification and you will need to do this and sow it later in the spring. This does often work well with late sown seed that one knows needs a period of cold before germination, though I have never tried it with gentians.

Contribution from Sarah Curtis 09 December 2011, 09:21top / bottom of page

I have decided to take your advice and sow now, leaving the seed-trays outdoors to stratify. I'm going to sow half the seed I have and then use the other half to run a germination trial starting January, this way I will hopefully get two sets of results.

Despite being a student at both a land-studies college and a botanic garden, the comments on here have been by far the most useful to my endeavour, so thankyou both.

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