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Just received my JL Hudson order of Aquilegia atrata seeds. From what I've read, I sow them warm for 2 to 4 wks, then switch to cold for 4 to 6 wks and then move to 41 to 53 for germination. If anyone has any experience with these, I'd appreciate any input.
Cindy, I have not grown A. atrata but I have germinated many of the other Aquilegia species. What you're suggesting is pretty close to what I do for most that I have grown. I usually sow seeds in a small (4inch) pot and transfer that to refrigerator or garage when needed for cold and out to warmer temps for germ. If the cold germination temp (41-53) is truly necessary you might want to split up your seed and winter sow some of them in a pot/milk carton, etc in a protected area outside. When I am trying to germinate species that need a cooler germination temp, I often have better germ in winter-sown containers outside than I do germinating them in my setup inside (about 62 degrees min). If all else fails, GA3 treatment almost always works for Aquilegia.
If you are really lucky, they might germinate during the initial warm period. Aquilegia tend to loose their need for stratification with age and I sometimes get enough to germ without the cold treatment. Of course that is a two edged sword as Aquilegia also loose their viability with age.
Yeah, I normally stratify all my Aquilegia seed as well but I start with stratifying rather than giving them a warm period first. I'm thinking that I'll try two different batches - one as WS and one as my "normal" method. I'm thinking that the coolest spot for germinating might be my garage. Even though it's heated to about 55 during the week and a little warmer on weekends when we're working in there. We don't actually park a vehicle in there so it's our "basement".
Do you give your Aquilegia's a warm period before the cold treatment?
I usually do give them a warm period first, not because I think they need it, rather to see if I can get any germination without the stratification. You never really know for sure how physiologically old purchased seed is, so I try a warm period first to see if I get lucky.
Good point. I've decided to use both techniques. Concentrating on doing the WS stuff today since it's a little more labor-intensive - gathering containers, cutting them, etc. - so that I can get them outside.