Hellebore Seeds Treatment for Winter Trading?

lois(PA Zone 6)November 27, 2010

Hi, I would like to try harvesting the seeds from my hellebores next summer for seed trading the following winter. I'd like to be able to send hellebore seeds that would germinate in the spring after wintersowing them, but hellebore seeds seem to require a warm/cold/warm cycle instead of just a cold/warm cycle.

is there any way to bring hellebore seeds through their first warm cycle without planting them? Or, will I have to plant the seeds in the summer and then dig them up again in the fall for trading?

The reason why I want to trade seeds in winter is that most other (non-hellebore) types of seeds are are not available until fall or winter.

Is it even possible/feasable to try doing this?


Lois in PA

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Just so we're clear, best germination will be achieved by sowing the seeds soon after they are harvested, June into July.

But, you can provide the first warm moist period after holding the seeds for a few weeks too - not ideal, but close.

Minimum of 45 days before you want to mail them, and 60 days would be better, soak the seeds overnight. Place 20-30 seeds in a 2x3" zip lock with approx one or two teaspoons of moist sterile vermiculite or moist sterile sand (not soggy, like wrung out sponge moist)....leave them at room temperature. At the end of the 45-60 days, they will be ready for the moist chill, mailing still in the sealed zip lock in a protective bubble envelope. They can't be allowed to dry again at this point.

Just make sure the recipient understands the germination process has been started and on which dates, is clear that he/she is committed - understands they need to be sown chilled at this point and not held until Spring (or until convenient :))

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 8:03PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Great info, thank you. You even answered a couple questions I didn't think of asking! Good to know about not letting the seeds dry out.

That's what I gathered, sowing the seeds fresh is best. I will probably sow a few fresh for myself. But many seed traders are not looking in the seed trading forums in June, and their seeds would not be ready until at least Oct.

What would happen if I kept the seeds in the damp sand for more than 60 days? For example, 120 days? Would the seeds rot? Sprout?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 9:15PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

If the damp sand is sterile, they would probably be fine - I haven't kept them as long as 120 days myself. Very occasionally when sown immediately fresh, helleborus seeds might germinate without any of the lengthy temperature changes - but that happens only rarely.

I do find the gardeners looking for hellebore seeds often appreciate the chance to have them fresh though, and if experienced understand that means summer. I place my Ashwood order in winter, sow when I receive my seeds in July.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 10:39PM
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loretta5_gw(Z6 PA)

I have held seeds as long as 120 days myself. They germinate just fine. It is said that the minimum length of time they need to be held warm and moist is 8 weeks. You wouldn't need to hold the seed yourself for 8 weeks as long as you tell the recipient when you put then into warm moist stratification and that they need to let them stay in the baggies at least 8 weeks before starting the cold moist stratification period. The easiest way to do that is to write the date of sewing on the baggie with permanent marker.

Just as an aside, it isn't cold enough in my area to start the cold moist stratification period outside after 60 or even 120 days so I put the baggies of seed in the back of the refrigerator until they germinate - yes they will germinate right in the bag in the dark - then I pot them up and put them under lights until time to put the seedlings outside. It works great.

It's good of you to offer seed. I'll be checking to see if I can use any. I love Hellebores.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 10:38AM
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I am trading hellebore seeds right now. I collect them, keep them in moist soilless mix at room temp for three months, then put them in the fridge. I have germinating hellebore seeds--root growth only, that I package up on moist paper toweling and send in ziplocks to my traders.

I tend to trade most of my seeds on the general Seed Trading forum; when the hellebore seed is fresh in June, I find very few people post or check the message board at that time.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 1:27AM
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