6 rules for stratifying seeds at home
“Late autumn is a great time to start the process of stratification of seeds of many crops” ... That’s how many articles about seed propagation begin. I suspect that for most beginner gardeners, the word “stratification” begins with a slight panic: “Where are we going! It’s scientific ... ”I’ll try to tell you about it in a simple way. The article contains 6 rules for stratification of seeds, following which you can successfully prepare them for sowing.
To get started, go for a walk in the autumn to a park, a forest, and someone to your personal garden. You see, many plants have fruits, and therefore seeds. Moreover, some of them are already on the ground. The weather is still warm, the temperatures are positive, it rains regularly ... One word is autumn. It would seem that seeds that have fallen to the ground should germinate; conditions are appropriate. But there it was, and they will lie until spring. And only then part of them (those that are in the layer of the earth) will germinate.
This is how nature takes care of plant reproduction in our harsh climate with frosty winters. After all, if the seedlings begin to emerge in the fall, then they will inevitably freeze, die. Therefore, inside they have substances specially developed for many years of evolution that prevent them from germinating ahead of time.
The thick shell is also a kind of protection. And only during the long winter months, being in moisture and cold, the seeds get rid of these substances, the shell loses its strength, and in the spring the seed sprouts.
In fact, this is natural stratification. It should be understood that such treatment with cold and moisture is needed, as a rule, to seeds of plants from temperate latitudes with frosty winters. Tropical crops do not have such protection against early seedlings. Yes, they don’t even need it, it’s warm there in the winter too - take your health!
Stratification at home is a process that mimics natural stratification. And for it to succeed, you must adhere to the following rules.
1. Learn about the features of stratification of seeds of a particular plant
Before sowing certain seeds, it is worth taking care of obtaining reliable information. Do they need stratification so that they ascend? And if necessary, what and for what duration? In different cultures, these terms and requirements are different. Say, the seeds of a tulip tree (lyriodendron) will need a year and a half (!) To germinate with simulated winter – summer – winter cycles, and lavender seeds will only need one month of low temperature. I advise you, be sure to read the recommendations for a particular plant.
Recommendations on the duration of stratification of seeds of popular plants are in the material "Stratification of seeds at home."
2. “Ordinary” plants stratify in the open ground, exotics - in the basement or refrigerator
Seeds of plants usual for your locality (seeds can be stocked in large quantities) can be safely sown in open ground before winter, of course, after preparing the beds and marking the sowing places with special markers or simply sticking plastic spoons or knives.
Read about the subtleties of winter sowing in the materials “How to sow flowers in the winter?” and “What to plant in the winter?” 20+ crops for winter crops. "
If there are few seeds and they are from rare plants, then stratification should be done more purposefully. Sow in containers or cassettes and place in conditions simulating natural (refrigerator or cellar with a temperature close to zero). Above +4 is bad, and a little freezing is permissible.
3. Prepare the substrate correctly for stratification.
Stratification should be carried out in sterile soil mixtures or substrates. Mold and other fungal diseases, like pests, can completely nullify your many months of effort. In principle, any options are suitable, but it is more convenient to stratify small seeds in a mixture of peat and sand, you can add garden soil (be sure to disinfect all the components that you take from nature), and large seeds in sphagnum, peat, a mixture of peat and sand.
Also for home stratification, ready-made purchased soil for plants is suitable, as a rule, it does not require any additional processing. Sometimes gardeners who stratify a lot of seeds at once, to save space in the refrigerator, do not sow the seeds, but put them in plastic bags with moist vermiculite, moss or even dampened paper towels, and after the due time, they sow in cassettes or containers .
True, this method is good for large seeds that are easy to find in such substrates. And remember that saving is saving, but the substrate should be 3 times larger in volume than seeds.
4. Provide high soil and air humidity
It is better to soak the seeds before laying them in the substrate for a couple of days in water, this will speed up the process of activating the chemical processes inside. And then throughout the entire period it is necessary to maintain high soil and air humidity. Therefore, it is necessary to place containers with seeds in a plastic bag. Or use purchased mini greenhouses for seedlings. In case of drying, the seeds should be sprayed with water from a spray bottle. It is better to use soft, filtered water, and even better - thawed snow.
5. Constant monitoring!
Check stratified seeds regularly every 2 weeks. That is why a refrigerator or a cellar is convenient for these purposes. Open plastic bags, open mini-hotbeds and inspect the seeds for mold. If it has appeared, wash large seeds, and treat the seeded with a fungicide (hydrogen peroxide diluted with water is suitable).
6. Sow hatching seeds in time
When you saw that the seeds have nested, immediately sow them in the soil substrate and put in a warm place. If a large sprout has already grown from a seed, you need to do this very carefully so as not to break it. Break, the future plant died. When the first shoots appear, the containers must be put on a well-lit window sill and additionally highlighted with special phyto-lamps (days are too short in winter).
As you can see, there is nothing complicated and terrible in the home stratification of seeds. All that is needed is attentiveness, accuracy and patience.