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Author Topic: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination  (Read 49334 times)

partisangardener

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Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« on: December 07, 2013, 06:44:05 PM »
I had this thread misplaced and try to do it in a separate thread. I think this matter is important enough.
So this is a new start and I hope you will forgive me me mistakes.

The Germination of Galanthus species a theory.

I had by Accident in 2011 a lot of seeds from Galanthus plicatus. It was 11 of May. While on my trip to Italy I went by a garden with thousand G. plicatus and Leucojum vernum .

I had asked before and collected more than hundred ripe fruits of each. During the two weeks  trip, I kept them in a plastic bag with some moss. Some of the fruits started to rot and so I washed these seeds and opened the remainder. Added new moss and some sand.

When I came home there was a lot to do, and so I added some garden soil and some perlite. Equal parts to the sand. Put some gravel and a gaze in a pot for drainage and gave the mixture seeds and substrate in this pot. I did the same with the leucojum seeds.

I buried these pots in the ground near some orchids which needed regular watering and shade. So they never dried out.
At the end of summer I remembered this seeds and started to fill my drainage routine and some substrate in a Styrofoam box, for each.

When I turned the pots over (about the End of the summer September maybe) I was
in for a surprise.
The complete sets of seeds had already germinated. (Both species)

They had formed a short germination tube and at he end a round little bulb, with several roots each. The roots intertwined very much and some tubes were grown through the gaze. It was a mess. Leucojum did the same.

Germination seemed 100 % I saw none without bulb. Maybe some seeds had rotted, I didnít count them before.

There were several clumps sticking very much together. These I stretched somewhat without too much damage. Of course the ones grown through the gaze got broken. Afterwards they were covered with two three centimetres of substrate.
These boxes were buried to the rim in my garden. In this warm January they looked afterwards like grass.

Then came frost and snow. The snow disappeared. Still looking very good.

Then heavy frost without snow. -20 for several weeks. After this, he first success was destroyed . All bulbs of both species were slush. Some of the leafs looked still good for a few days.

When I wrote this somewhere in the forum I met disbelief.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 08:21:23 PM by partisangardener »
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2013, 06:46:38 PM »
So I tried this year to document it. The set was about 50 seeds of G.plicatus from may own mother plants. And very few of G. elwesii an G. nivalis. I put them in plastic-bags with life Sphagnum. Placed them in my studio in a dark corner under a table.
Temperature at themoment a few centigrades obove zero now, October it was quite warm more than 20.
They did a long time nothing. At the end of October  (I only checked once a week or so) I discovered the first germination with G.plicatus.

The germination tube was as thick (about)as last time but longer. Quite late according to last time. Temperature was inside not that variable as outside (night /day) maybe this was the reason or the acidic Sphagnum. The few  nivalis and elwesii hadnít moved at all jet.


At the 18 of November the first germination was discovered in the bag with elwesii and nivalis.
At the 14. of December I found the first leaf in some of the older seedlings (G. plicatus) the mother plants in the garden showed some leafs too.
Before I saw only seedlings in late Autumn or winter when I was digging in the garden.
As far as my experiment goes I assume there is no need for a cold period to germinate Galanthus seeds.

They will probably germinate all after they are kept in a moist substrate in a protected place outside. Dry periods will delay the germination and maybe too little temperature variation. This will also produce somewhat lower germination, as is usual for many other species.
I would keep this seeds in a bag with moist substrate for exchange purpose. Like many other spring geophytes.
The germination seems to have a  timer (until germination inhibitors within the seed are metabolised ) which runs faster with natural temperature modus, that a bulb is forming before the first leaf emerges out of it. Delayed hypogeal germination is the term I believe.
This is of course a theory for which I have some observations I assume.
All the pictures I have seen fit into this pattern, but we will see. Next year (I hope)
I will have enough seeds for a better experiment and I will count the seeds exactly at the start.
I believe someone of you will try too.

These pictures are from different seedlings becaus my camera is not fully understood by me and quite old.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 08:21:45 PM by partisangardener »
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Maggi Young

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Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 07:28:36 PM »
Thank you Maggi  :D
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 08:22:09 PM by partisangardener »
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Leena

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 06:34:09 AM »
 This is very interesting, thank you. :)
Leena from south of Finland

Alan_b

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 10:35:14 AM »
Full-sized snowdrop bulbs will put down roots from August onwards (in UK conditions) so you might expect seed germination at a similar time.  The seed would have been set the previous spring so if a cold period was required before germination it would delay germination by a year.  I cannot see any benefit in that.  Here on the forum, Martin Baxendale must be amongst the most experienced in growing snowdrops from seed.
Almost in Scotland.

Martin Baxendale

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 11:15:07 AM »
Here on the forum, Martin Baxendale must be amongst the most experienced in growing snowdrops from seed.

I've never experimented with germinating seeds in moist bags etc so I can't really add much to this discussion. I always sow in pots of well-drained compost as soon as the seed is ripe and never let the pots dry out completely until leaves appear. I don't therefore know exactly when germination starts, only when leaves start to appear - from late autumn through to spring. 

I've always worked on the theory that the seeds need a long warm and moist (never bone dry) period during summer followed by a cool period in late autumn/early winter to germinate.
Martin Baxendale, Gloucestershire, UK.

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 11:27:10 AM »
There is no cold spell required for germination, as far my experiments go. I used only fresh seed which germinates the same year if treated proper. I will try it next time outside in pots and start looking during August.
I don't recommend putting them into a bag, this was only for documentation.
So Martins method is the best in my opinion.
My investigation in this matter was because of very regular mentioning of poor germination because of not enough cold in the winter. This canīt be in my opinion
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 11:50:53 AM »
I found the best collecting time for the fruits is when they are going from bright green to somewhat yellowish before they open naturally. Slugs like to eat in my garden conditions the seeds out of the ripening fruit when it is still green. 
If this danger is too great at a place I harvest even when they start to sink to the ground. Then keep them in a  place without sun but much light outside with protection against slugs. I harvest still good looking seeds then.

They seem to ripen without connection to the plant if  enough moisture and light is provided for.
In one case I had even some snowdrop flowers from a market. I pollinated one exceptionally big flower with four leafs in the vase. It grew a seed pot inside my studio. Several others did so too.
The light seemed too poor for me and some stems started to rot. So I kept them outside on the ground most of the Pod exposed to the light.
The big pod grew one heavy good-looking seed. This was before my discovery, so I put it in the ground between other snowdrops. Lost track oft it and I don't know if it really germinated.
I don't recommend it to do it by purpose but if you cut a seed pot by accident from the mother plant long before it is ripe, don't discard it. You will probably get some viable seeds by treating it in the above mentioned way. And please tell us if it really worked. Galanthus is still good for some surprises. ;)
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Martin Baxendale

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2013, 12:50:54 PM »
My general observation over the years has been that I tend to get good germination during a cold and frosty autumn/winter and poor germination during a warm autumn/winter with few frosts. Of course there could be other factors involved (maybe I let pots of seeds dry out more in one year than another) and I haven't done any proper experimentation so it is just a general observation.
Martin Baxendale, Gloucestershire, UK.

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 01:07:46 PM »
When germination occurs during late summer the weather in the following winter cant be the explanation for good or bad germination. That's the reason why I did it in bags after my first discovery. None had experienced frost  at all before germination, only a few month warm period after ripening under moist conditions.
Germination started even there at temperature minima of about 15 centigrade indoor.
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Martin Baxendale

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 10:28:54 PM »
When germination occurs during late summer the weather in the following winter cant be the explanation for good or bad germination. That's the reason why I did it in bags after my first discovery. None had experienced frost  at all before germination, only a few month warm period after ripening under moist conditions.
Germination started even there at temperature minima of about 15 centigrade indoor.

Perhaps constant unvarying warm moisture in a bag induces germination that would not usually happen in the soil or in pots of compost. Maybe the constant warm moisture in a bag provides the ideal conditions for immediate germination without a cold spell. And perhaps if seeds do not get that constant warm moisture then immediate germination does not happen, and the seeds then require a cold spell of weather to germinate.

In other words, if conditions are ideal (warm and constantly moist) this tells the seed it is okay to germinate during summer as there is enough constant moisture for a seedling bulb to grow. But if there is not constant moisture then that tells the seed it is not yet safe to germinate, and the seed waits until after a cold spell (winter) so that it then germinates  in the moist conditions of the following spring. 
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 01:08:11 PM by Martin Baxendale »
Martin Baxendale, Gloucestershire, UK.

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2013, 05:40:36 PM »
I agree, insofar different condition do change germination habit, as the differences even between two different years show.
But we have to consider that the first  accidental experiment outside in a pot resulted in much earlier germination.

About when the leafs appear above ground is another thing. In the bags the seedlings are exposed to some light and this condition will not show natural behavior in respect of appearance of leaf above ground during the germination. I expect it will be somewhat the same with the adult ones.

With other species with delayed hypogeal germination there is often a cold spell for some time necessary to break the dormancy of a bulb. With  C.plicatus is it, if at all, very short  and not below 5 centigrade plus. But this is maybe due to the artificial conditions.
I don't recall very early leafs the first time. The bulbs where then more round and at least 4 weeks earlier.
I expect there is a lot variation even individually related to environmental conditions.

Plastic bags inside is not as successful as moist outside in the ground (pot or not) it prolonged the germination at least this time.

I hope observation and experiment will lead to more new plants for everyone. I would never have got into this without the first accidental experiment. I found before in my garden  the casual the seedling stages other user showed in this forum.
I did never occurred to me before, that germination could start already n the summer.

I am not a professional galantophile an alas not even British, sorry.
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Maggi Young

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2013, 06:37:05 PM »
Axel, you have my admiration for being able to discuss these matters in English.  :)

Many bulb seeds  will germinate at the time when the parent plants are coming into growth - they may not show much above ground for some time after that - but the process begins then - this is why Ian always suggests watering pots of seed at the same time as pots of bulbs are watered - and for those plants with almost permanent roots  ( like Crocus pelistericus for instance) or those which like some galanthus, come early into root growth, then early germination might be expected even in August.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

partisangardener

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Re: Observations and theory of Galanthus germination
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2014, 07:34:08 PM »
just an update how the seedlings from this post look like now.
This year was the best fruiting with my snowdrops. Plenty material for experiments.
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

 


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