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AGS Seed Exchange: alpine seed cultivation

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Started by: Charlie Lysons

recommendations sought on breaking dormancy of a range of alpine seeds

Go to latest contribution by Charlie Lysons, 04 March 2012, 13:01. Go to bottom of this page.

Contribution from Charlie Lysons 20 January 2012, 13:56top / bottom of page

To further explain the thread title: having just received my first seed exchange package in the post(many thanks AGS helpers/staff) I could do with some more spcific advice on optimum seed cultivation approach, ie breaking dormancy etc. for a range of seeds. I have checked out various tomes, but find that recommendations are often contradictory. Can members suggest somewhere I can fine advice (perhaps online?) so that I can maximise my chances of success. I'm particularly thinking of the autumn Gentian species, Pterocephalus, and various Lewisia species, but do members know of a single source of trusted advice for a range of different genus? Thanks in advance!

Contribution from David Nicholson 20 January 2012, 15:44top / bottom of page

There will be others with far more experience than I Charlie but as far as Lewisias are concerned I usually follow the regime that Philip Baulk of Ashwood Nurseries set out in an article he wrote in the September 1988 edition of the AGS Bulletin. If you can get hold of a copy I'm sure you would find it worthwhile.

Contribution from Tim Ingram 20 January 2012, 16:37top / bottom of page

Charlie I have just sown Pterocephalus with bottom heat in the greenhouse. Gentians are best sown reasonably fresh in the autumn and allowed to go through a cold period before germination in the spring. If sown now then they would benefit from a month to six weeks in the fridge, before bringing out to warmer conditions in the greenhouse or frame.

There are quite a few guides to sowing different seed. One of the best is the Jelitto Seed Catalogue which assigns different germination conditions for all the seed they sell - which includes many alpines. I wrote an article in the Bulletin, 'Success with Seed' in September 2009, in which I also gave many references to earlier articles and books - particularly John Good's series in the Bulletin which was partly reprinted in 1991, Vol. 59. I hope these will be useful.

Contribution from Ron Mudd 20 January 2012, 18:24top / bottom of page

I'm sure thats the way David. could you give us an outline of the technique that is presented, please?

Contribution from David Nicholson 22 January 2012, 14:54top / bottom of page

OK, more on the Philip Baulk article and his article is a reflection on his Lewisia year starting in September and covers his growing and sowing regimes for the species.

In September he sows L. tweedyi and L. rediviva and as he is sowing a lot of seed he uses deep clay pans. As I am sowing a few seeds of each species I use my standard 9cm square plastic pots. His mix is JI seed compost "to which is added a small portion each of shredded leaf mould, perlite and grit, the exact proportions not being critical but very good drainage is" I rarely have leaf mould so instead use a bit of finely shredded peat. Prior to sowing he sprinkles silver sand over the surface of the compost to make accurate space sowing easier. After sowing he covers the seed with a little more sand and then a quarter inch of fine flint grit and the pots go into a north facing cold frame.

In October he sows the remaining species (apart from his cotyledon Ashwood strains-see later). For these he uses six inch half pots with a peat based seed compost with perlite to improve drainage. Again I use my standard pots and compost. After sowing he covers the seeds with a quarter inch of fling grit. The pots go into a shaded cold frame or cold greenhouse.

In November/January he sows his cotyledon Ashwood strains in plastic seed trays of peat based compost with perlite. After sowing and covering with grit these

go into a cold greenhouse.

He keeps deciduous species seedlings in their seed pots until the following October before pricking them out. Evergreen species and hybrids he pricks out as soon as they are big enough to handle.

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 22 January 2012, 15:36top / bottom of page

Thanks for that summary David. Now I can permanently put off the task of getting deep enough into an overfull cupboard to unearth said edition of the bulletin!

Contribution from Ron Mudd 22 January 2012, 16:13top / bottom of page

Thanks David.I'm sure this will be of use to many people who monitor the contributions on this site but dont feel that they should contribute.

Please if you ( the anonymous member ) try this method please feedback your results ( positive or negative its all valuable ) so others may learn.

Contribution from Charlie Lysons 04 March 2012, 13:01top / bottom of page

Thanks to all contributors for their helpful comments. I will be checking out the previous bulletin issues as suggested, via the Wisley library not far away. And thanks for the suggestion of the Jellito seed catalogue- I have now obtained an old 2007 one, which has much useful advice.



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