Tasmanian seeds: to plant or not to plant?

claysoil(z6 PA)January 23, 2004

Now that I've taken the plunge and ordered seeds from Elizabeth Town, I need to know what to do with them when they arrive. I've gone through the archives and seen that some of you refrigerate them for 6 weeks in their packets and some pot them up and put them under lights.

I'm in zone 6 and would appreciate hearing from anyone else in my zone as to what you did with your Taz seeds. Has anyone just potted them up and put them outside to brave the elements? Our high today is 12 degrees!

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I plan on putting mine (when I get them (hopefully soon)) right into pots outside..and let Nature do her job. I don't have good facilities for indoor growing anyway...so the cold chilling period will be outdoors.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2004 at 1:42PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

I think that with 1/3 of my seeds I will do just that; pot them up and put them outside in a somewhat protected area as this way seems the most natural and straight forward. I don't quite understand why more people don't do it that way, and am hesitant to comit all of my seeds to it since the more experienced growers don't seem to do it. With 1/3 I will follow the fridge method others have described. The final 1/3 will go into pots in my unheated basement. Dbarron, I'd apprciate it if you'd keep me posted on your germination findings.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 12:49PM
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Welcome to ET seed sowing. Elizabeth Town Hellebores has added an area to their website which deals with sowing seed which sounds like good advise. I was a newbie last year and went about things all wrong and still had germination! My biggest mistake was putting them in shallow pans which I could not understand was a big deal until I transplanted a saw the roots grew very long and the top exhibited little growth(which is what they do).

Here is some more info which may help or confuse you, but hope it helps. This web site deals with sowing seed from same climate as ours and, in England an US seeds are available in summer-Tasmania is having their summer now, thus we get their fresh seed now. Either way, it will make your winter more interesting.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 9:05PM
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Yes Terry, this is good advice, espeacialy about the pest.

My problem with this method is that the hellebore emerge in late October, early November. That is just in time for our annual deep freeze, called winter. The problem I have is what to do with the sprouting hellebore for four months.

Claysoil, all your methods of sprouting hellebore should work. I would not recommend anyone in the north with deep freezing temps to place seed that has absorbed moisture outside. Temps lower than the low twenty's F have been known to be bad for seed that have their embryos swelled. I am not sure if this is true for hellebores but I expect that a good deep freeze is not good. Though a slight freeze I know does no harm.

The best way to learn what sprouting method will work for you is to experiment with your own collected hellebore seed.

Happy Sprouting!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2004 at 7:48AM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Terry and Bruce, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I've been reading and rereading your posts on other threads. You're my hellebore gurus. I'm thinking that I will also learn from the hellebores that I planted 3 years ago as they mature and flower more and scatter their seed and I watch the pattern of seedling emergence in the wild in my area.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2004 at 7:28PM
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lilysgarden(5a N.H.)


When I received my prestratified seed (warm, moist stratified for 8 weeks) from Elizabeth Town Hellebores last winter, I sowed them directly outdoors in my prepared seed beds. Knowing that they would be arriving when our ground/soil would be frozen, I prepared the beds by poking 1" deep holes, two inches apart, in straight rows.. for ease in sowing when they would arrive in winter. I simply removed the snow that had covered the beds, sowed the seed in the "frozen" prepared holes, covered them with soil mix, and shoveled the snow back on top of the beds to keep moisture in and to keep them at a set 32 degrees. Needless to say, as each new seedling emerged on its own in spring, I was simply thrilled with the percentage of germination (some more progressive than others... Doubles, Anemone forms, Picotee, etc). By fall the 3" plus seedlings should have been strong and sturdy enough to withstand my snow covered zone 4/5 garden... I will see for certain when the snow melts this spring, but they are such hardy little buggers that I expect to not only see last year's seedlings, but to see new germination from that seed lot as well. I did lightly mulch around/between the seedlings with shredded leaf mulch just for an extra protective blanket and peace of mind. I'm expecting my new seeds from ET any day now and have, once again, prepared beds for them last fall. I'll be a seed sowing maniac when all those seeds that I ordered show up in my mailbox... my neighbors expect to see me shoveling snow and sowing seed each winter now... I'd hate to disappoint them. ;o)

Bruce! Nice to see/hear you! I was concerned/worried that you had dropped off the edge of the planet (not that I've been making my presence here much lately either). I do hope that all is well with you. Will I be seeing you at the NARGS meetings this year? I would love to finally meet you.

My best to all for wonderful germination,

    Bookmark   January 30, 2004 at 10:03AM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Lily, Thanks for sharing! I like your idea. I was thinking of sinking pots in the ground so I could move plants around if I wanted to do so. Did you do anything to prevent critter damage?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 2:19PM
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lilysgarden(5a N.H.)


The only thing that I do to avoid critter damage, in both my seed beds and garden beds, is that I plant garlic bulbs throughout each fall. This has been the only sure way that I have found to keep the moles and voles out of everything. You may have a bigger problem with mice living/nesting in pots over winter. Whenever I have over wintered potted plants/seedlings outdoors, I have done (as you said) sunk the pots ... I then throw a few loose garlic bulbs in and mulch with shredded leaves... thus far, I haven't had any critter damage. As far as slug damage goes, the wooden forms that I use for my raised seed beds (usually being given away and found at your local electric supply store or lumber yard) come with steel banding attached around the outfacing wood side of each form and this seems to make a barrier that slugs and snails do not like to cross. Now, my own chickens and cats are a completely different story... LOL ! I actually did construct a removable wooden/chicken wire top to place on top of one of these seed beds which contained a very rare seed lot, that I simply couldn't imagine trying to replace if critters (like squirrels, cats, chickens, dogs, etc. etc.) ever got inside. This has worked out great!! If I had a problem with critter damage than I would surely construct a few more as they are of quite simple construction and reusable for years.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2004 at 3:30PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Garlic sounds easy enough to try, though I wish I had some of your chicken wire tops. I'll keep my eye open for a wooden square I can drape some wire over.

Thanks again Lily

    Bookmark   February 4, 2004 at 4:03PM
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lilysgarden(5a N.H.)


Again, you are very welcome. The tops can be easily built to size by purchasing pine strapping (approx. 2" wide) from your local lumber yard or Home Depot. It comes in many lengths, but 8' is easy to handle and costs just over a dollar per 8' length. Three 8' lengths are enough to build two tops, 4' X 2' ea. The 1" hexagonal chicken wire can usually be purchased at your local grain store per foot length and is available in many widths, including the 2' needed for the tops that I make. A 4' length of this chicken wire doesn't cost very much either. Use a staple gun to affix the chicken wire to the wooden form you have just made and you are golden. (Rabbit wire 1/4" or 1/2" square works even better to keep out smaller critters) If you want to add extra strength to the top than you can pick up 4 flat "L" brackets to screw to the 4 corners.

The whole project doesn't cost that much and doesn't take too much time either.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2004 at 7:26PM
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lilysgarden(5a N.H.)

My seed order from Tasmania came today! Yay! I had better start shovelling that crusty white stuff off of my seed beds and start sowing tomorrow...

Spring's just around the corner... I saw a huge "V" of geese flying north yesterday...


    Bookmark   February 9, 2004 at 7:05PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

My seeds have arrived also and I'm just thrilled. They had to make a substitution and I was sent "dark, almost black", how cool is that?! 14 precious seeds of them!

I did go ahead and put some of my seeds into pots outside even though I am worried that we will have temps going above 40 before 6 weeks are up. I wanted to dump a load of snow over them for insulation, but it's all ice and can't be broken up. Maybe another day.

Some are potted in my cellar and half are in the fridge in their shipping packets where I know they will be a consistent cold for 6 weeks.

Now I know that I am going to make myself nuts constantly peeking at them to see if they are doing anything! And according to all of the advice I am getting, the first wait (3 years til first bloom) is the longest and I should plant every year so that I get to see new blooms every spring. The madness has begun....

    Bookmark   February 15, 2004 at 12:43PM
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