sowing Meconopsis seeds

toad_ca(z7b Bellingham, WA)July 29, 2012

I bought some Meconopsis seeds (betonicifolia 'Hensol Violet' and X Sheldonii Lingholm), stuck them in the freezer (because I read that they like to be chilled first) and then life intervened, and I didn't get to sow them when I intended to.

1. Should I just keep them in the freezer until next spring?

2. Is it OK to sow them where I want them to grow in early spring? Or do I need to sprout them indoors, under lights first?


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Beautiful, unique blooms. Either wait until fall rains return for earlier blooms or start next year. Skip indoors & try the winter sow method instead in milk jugs or 2 liter bottles. There is a Winter Sowing forum here on GW with great information to get you started & hooked. Be sure to control slugs. They sure love seedlings.

More information:

Here is a link that might be useful: sowing instructions from Thompson-Morgan

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:04AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

My understanding is that you want to sow these fresh or there is poor germination.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:54AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Toad, freezing them dry is only storage, it does nothing to overcome the dormancy of the seeds. Fresh really is best, those will germinate when ripe (usually approx now) without any special treatments.

Those seedlings are tiny, and slugs love them. They might not fair well direct sown. Unlike annual poppies, they are slower to put on some size after germination and easy to overlook.

If I haven't sown them fresh and seeds are a few months old, I'll surface sow onto a prepared pot around late January into February, top the pots with some grit to keep rain from moving seeds around, leave them outdoors where they are exposed to the weather, fluctuating temps. You may have to protect from sparrows. Other than that - They manage on their own, germinating in late winter to earliest spring. Not a poppy that 'resents' transplanting, you can either pot them up individually or put them in the garden in Spring - but again, be prepared to protect from slugs.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:55PM
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toad_ca(z7b Bellingham, WA)

Thank you all for the great information! I'll probably try sowing a few directly in the fall (with a Sluggo border) and more in protected pots in January.
Should I just keep them in the freezer until then? Or doesn't it matter?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 4:05PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

It appears the natural cycle would be for them to sprout and grow in summer, form rosettes of fair size before winter and overwinter as these. Them being from cool upper altitudes of a monsoon climate region, there is no summer drought condition for them to need to avoid by waiting until fall (or spring) to sprout.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:14PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I don't freeze my seeds, I keep them cool (cool-ish) and dry on my desk, or - when not organized, like now, on my rarely used dining room table.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Most dry seeds will keep very well for many years in a sealed container in the freezer. It's the right way to do long-term storage.

As far as I know, Meconopsis betonicifolia does not need an initial cold period to germinate. But they do require cool temps for germination and growing on. The best method I have found is to sow them in December or January in a very gritty peat/perlite or peat/pumice mix, and seal the container in a plastic bag, and keep at around 60F until germination occurs. They may need light for germination. I germinate them 6" under fluorescents. Grow them on under fluorescents for the rest of the winter in a very cool place (55-60F). Apply liquid fertilizer regularly. In Spring, transplant into deep sandy/gritty/humusy soil in the garden in a place that gets shade during midday, like on the north side of the house. Keep the soil moist. If happy, they will form a large basal rosette of fuzzy leaves. They may bloom the next Spring or the one after that. Or they may rot out in midsummer for no reason at all.

Here is a link that might be useful: meconopsis germination

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 11:58PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Had occasion to notice yesterday that friends with a nursery currently have blue poppies in a 4" pot size, with leaves maybe 1"-2"+ long, as though sown earlier this summer.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 10:52PM
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bboy, with the weather we've been having, I'm not surprised. The last couple of years have been Meconopsis heaven around here. But if you start them in early summer in a warm year, or if you start them in a warm (over 60F) environment, or if you try to grow them in a sunny place, you will probably end up with nothing. The growing of Meconopsis has been studied to exhaustion. If people want to deviate from the tried and true, that's fine, but it will probably end the same way it has a thousand times before. Also keep in mind that professional growers may have some tricks up their sleeve that are not available to us hobbyists.

Here is a link that might be useful: meconopsis from seed

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:55AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

They don't like it hot and dry at any stage of development, doesn't matter how old they are at the time - if you're going to grow them, you have to provide the right environment throughout the whole cycle. You're not going to avoid the need to keep them cool and moist the rest of their lives by planting the seeds right before winter hits - my faith still rests with the advice to plant them as soon as possible out of the pod.

Plants I saw are being grown by what is basically a hobby operation, on one of the principal's wooded home lot. No fancy methods or equipment being employed at all. I don't, however, know just when the seeds were planted - that was a supposition.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 5:23PM
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