I did a little experiment. Since lavender needs a long growing season to produce the flowers, they need to be started now, but also require stratification (cool temps before sowing). Wintersowing is an option, but they probably won't germinate for at least a month.
I put 6 seeds in a DAMP paper-towel and stuck it in the freezer for 24 hours. After they were back up to room temp, I sowed them and put them under lights. The 1st seedling emerged in 3 days and the rest were up within 5 days. How cool is THAT!! The package advised chilling them in the fridge for 1 month, which would have needed to have been done a month ago to sow them now.
Joanna, I'm glad you were able to get germination that quick and not have to wait a month. As part of your experiment, did you plant some up without putting them in the freezer? That would have been a true test on the efficacy of the short freezing treatment.
I don't know the lavender plant well, but my guess is that the need for stratification was negated by the age of the seed. Many species that need stratification to break dormancy naturally loose their dormancy as they age (very slow chemical reaction in the seed) and eventually don't need any stratification to germinate. Many Aquilegia spp need stratification to germinate, particularly if you are using fresh seed. However, many of those same seeds will germinate with no cold treatment after a year or two of storage.
Just a note of caution to others planting seed needing stratification: The process involves a chemical reaction(s) in the seed which break(s) down germination inhibitors. These reactions only occur at cool/cold temperatures in the presence of moisture. Additionally, they are usually slow reactions and can not be sped up with lower temperatures.
If you are behind in your seed sowing or decide in early summer to sow something requiring stratification (both of these circumstances usually happen to me) I would recommend you split your treatments - start stratification of the seed, but at the same time sow some at the rec. germination temp and you may get lucky. If you don't get any germination at the warmer temps after 2-3 weeks, go ahead and put your pot/seed into the fridge for stratification.
Hi! I recently planted about 100 lavendar seeds in jiffy pots, and of all the them only 6 actually sprouted haha. One of which just died, since transplanting them. I wish I would have known about this "cold" method. My package of seeds didnt say anything about that. Figured id share a picture of my lil ladies :)
I have a question. I started growing some lavender from seeds about 1 month back, using simply seed starting pellets and plenty of water. There's not much sun in the Northeast at this time of the year, so I left them under fluorescent light the rest of the day and night (~15 hours). I got about 50% success rate with stalks that came up. In the instruction that came with the seeds, it said that after this 4-week time, move them into the fridge (39F) for 6 weeks, then move to 50F to complete germination. If some of the seeds already germinated (I added the photo below), do I still have to put them into the fridge? Would they shrivel and die? Is the purpose of refrigeration to induce the seeds opening up after they come to the 50F environment?
This is my first time growing anything. I guess I just want to know what I should do next, short of singing lullaby to make them grow heh...
Hi flower_newbie! I'm not an expert and haven't grown lavender from seed before, but I start a lot of plants from seed every year so I'll try to help.
Your seedlings shouldn't be put in the fridge since it's not ideal conditions for them. You're right--they would die being in there for 6 weeks with no light.
You can put the pellets that don't have any seedlings or signs of bursting seeds yet into the fridge for 4-6 weeks now if you want more seedlings. (My garden's getting so full that I don't worry when some seeds don't germinate anymore!)
You're right... the purpose of refrigeration is just to help with the germination process. It mimics nature where there would be a cold spell before ideal germination time. Some seeds pretty much require this to germinate at all or with any sort of predictability, while others do fine without it. "trc65" already described the process nicely above.
You're off to a good start! Just make sure your seedlings don't dry out (but don't overwater them either) and that they get sufficient light. I don't know how quickly the seedlings/roots will grow--you may need to transplant the pellets into larger pots or you may get by with just transplanting the pellets directly into your garden at the appropriate time. (I prefer the latter whenever possible! Bright light and cool temps usually seems to help keep my seedlings from growing too much too fast.)
Thanks for the tip joannabanana! I started 100 munstead lavender seeds and 50 ellegance purple seeds in the freezer and left them in for 24 hours and then let them thaw like you said. It's been 3 days and I have at least 50 above the dirt and I know the rest are on their way. I read up on multiple ways to get the seeds started and sure glad I read your advice.
Thanks again and I'll post a pic after another 5 days.
After reading the tip regarding freezing of lavender seed to improve germination, I'm doing a variation of Joannabanana's technique. Yesterday I put the pot of lavender seed that I sowed March 4 in the freezer. At this point there was no germination, so I figure that this will probably work out about as well. I'll let y'all know.
planted about 200 lavender seeds in 2x1 cells and about 500 plants came up
no fridge just seed starter mix(peat/perllite) week tea of kelp(1/4 tsp/gal) lightly
covered and misted just before dry. Seed starter was damp when seeds were planted(covered lightly). Heat mat and lights after germination(with in 4 hrs)
Seeds were from Burpee. Do I cut back all but one stem per cell? Can I leave many per cell and up pot them? I've already tried transplanting 1 and a small group. Everything grows!
I have no idea myself, but here is what I found in several online sources.
They all worry about the seeds drying out before they emerge.
There is huge differenc e in how close together to plant seeds: from 4 per foot to 25-30 per foot.
I never found advice about "thin seedlings to xxx inches apart".
Coat the seeds with some anti-fungal powder
Sow after daytime temperatures reach between 77 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Soil temp should exceed 70 F.
Space rows 20-30 inches apart (or 15" to 40").
Sow 4-6-8-12 seeds per foot of row. (Sesaco says 25-30 seeds per foot)
sow 1/2" deep. (Sesaco says 0.75" to 1.5" deep so they never dry out.)
Everyone says - be very sure to maintain evenly moist soil until the seedlings emerge.
I am getting good germination by following Joanne's freezer method.
Except I kept forgetting about them,--- so they were two days warm,--- and two days in the freezer.
Then under lights on Wednesday, and there were sprouts on Saturday.
A few more sprouts today.