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meizwang

Cephalotus seed germination

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I sowed a few hundred fresh Cephalotus seeds for the first time last October 2012, and stratified them for about 6 weeks. After that, they were placed under lights, and they sat around until about late february. Out of the hundreds of seeds, ONE germinated after 4 months!

I gave up on watching them, and placed one pot outdoors, and left another pot indoors. Literally half a year from sowing, I'm finally starting to see more seeds here and there sprout. The pot outdoors started sprouting at the same time as the pot indoors. Luckily, moss didn't grow in these pots because if it did, I doubt any of these would have germinated.

Has anyone figured out a way to treat the seeds to get them to sprout faster and more uniform? I'm beginning to suspect that stratification didn't do much.

-Mike

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Hi Mike,

I lack some information in your description.

1. How fresh/old were the seeds? Were they yours or you bought them from someone?

2. You stratified your seeds at what temperatures? (That has a great importance.)

3. Are you sure that most of the seeds were even full? They could have been empty, so the result must have been poor too.

I sowed Cephalotus seeds once. They were fresh (had less than half a year or something). I stratified them for about 2,5 months in my refrigerator in temperatures around 2-3*C (35-37*F). I sowed them so that the end of the stratification would be on the end of March, beginning of April, when the day is longer and there is some sun shining. This year is different. I remember that from about 15 seeds I sowed only one haven't germinated and the rest it took around two weeks or so.

I venture to say that your stratification was just too short. If you even think of the winter season in region this species grow, it is not 6 weeks short.

If you find this method inefficient, you can always buy Giberelic acid and make... help me guys... 2-3%(?) solution. I do not really remember the concentration, but it is small. It stimulates germinating of many species and not only CPs. The problem with Cephalotus seeds might those his hairs. I have no idea how they might effect reaching the seeds coat by the solution. Still worth of trying.

Edited by Cephalotus

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that's excellent information, thank you! Yes, these seeds were harvested from my own plants, all the result of crossing different clones with each other. Of course, some probably selfed. They they were dried at room temperature for a week and then immediately sown on pure peat moss. They likely have embryos as they are have a little bulge in them, but it's possible that they don't have embryos. The fact that they continue to sprout leads me to believe that they're for the most part viable.

I think longer stratification sounds like good advice, and I'll try it out. While the winter is not 6 weeks short in the wild, the thought was the plants being exposed to 2-3C 24/7 for 6 weeks could equate to a few months of exposure to the same low temperatures in the wild. The thought was it's probably only that cold at night, and the day temps. are likely to be warmer. In any case, I think longer stratification makes sense, and I'll let you know how it goes.

-Mike

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Hey Stephen, the seeds I got from you lately (EB x self) still aren't germinating :D

Hope they do soon

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Hi Mike,

I noticed something similar to you--I sowed some of Stephen's Cephalotus seeds in September 2011. Half of them I put outside in a growhouse and the other half I put in my [warm] terrarium. In December, the ones in the terrarium had started to germinate. I then brought in the ones from outside as it was getting quite cold (as in below freezing) and they also started to germinate.

While I note this is a small sample size, I won't bother stratifying any Cephalotus seeds in the future.

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I am sure that fresh seeds, just collected will more probably germinate without any special treatment. But maybe when we allow them lay and dry out a little, they will go in some state of dormancy and will benefit from stratification. Until someone with enough amount of seeds won't do a properly designed experiment to check that, we will just wonder: to stratify or not to stratify? :)

I think that stratification can't harm them, since they have cold temperatures during the winter but it can be beneficial.

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From reading a number of posts over the years, my sense has been that germinating Ceph seeds fall into 2 camps -- depending on the conditions:

- those that mimic nature - sow the seeds & generally give them cooler / cold weather until spring when the warmer temps will stimulate germination

- those that sow as soon as possible after harvest and provide temps that at least get somewhat warm during the day

I have always used the latter approach with my own seeds & typically get ~50% germination (+/- 10%) with the majority of sprouts occuring in under 2 months (usually 4-6 weeks).

Most of the comments I've read suggest that stratification doesn't provide any meaningful advantage. The experiment detailed in the ICPS growing guide roughly achieved my normal results with & without stratification.

Based on this, I was surprised to see the strong comments supporting stratification in this thread from a respected grower who apparently feels quite strongly about the practice.

Hey Stephen, the seeds I got from you lately (EB x self) still aren't germinating :D

Hope they do soon

On the "Big Boy" - 4 out of 14 have germinated & in the 'Eden Black' Group - 13 out of 20 (with my lazy / no-stratification approach).

Edited by RL7836

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Thank you Ron for giving the link to that experiment. I read it with pleasure and I can point some weaknesses. I really liked this sentence:

Most of the germinations occurred during the fall time, so the time of year may be more important than the stratification time.
It will support what I will write below.

A few things:

1. If the seeds are fresh they usually do not need any special treatment to germinate. They should be provided suitable conditions for germinating and many species will just germinate. I am not writing only about CPs, because I experienced that with a great number of species also many non carnivorous. Meaning, if we have our own seeds or we bough some but we are sure that they are fresh, than when sown should germinate fast. I cannot give a specific interval for "still fresh and already not fresh". It probably depends on a species and way of storing. I definitely see no point in making any experiments on fresh seeds regarding their special treatment to stimulate germination. Some germinating inhibitors, which such special treatment should overcome, sometimes need time to develop. When the seeds are produced in hot and dry season those can be the conditions to prevent them from fast germinating and allow the germination inhibitors to be produced, to occur.

For example, according to my old knowledge Drosophyllum lusitanicum seeds are hard to germinate. I read about scarification, pouring with hot water and other weird treating. When my friend who live in Portugal near this species, sow them "just like nature does" and they germinate perfectly. He just sow them in time they should be sown - first autumn after they were produced. I should still ask him if he provide those seeds heat. I noticed that species which grow in very much heating places germinate a load better if first given a load of heat, than stratified. His Drosophyllum seeds germinate very well. They have natural cycle of humidity and cold at time they should have. When I tried to sow this species several times during the summer, they germinated only after treatment with giberelic acid. Before this acid, I tried all other methods and all were unsuccessful.

2. If the person describing this small experiment come from northern Hemisphere than I simply don't understand why starting stratification in April? April it is time I would consider best to end such treatment. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are still not that high but rising constantly. Sun is not that strong and they can be placed in full sun. Seedling adapting to it each day. Simply good conditions for seeds to germinate, instead of baking sun and heat.

3. Everyone who ever made any scientific experiment know that there should be a number of repeats. Single attempt means not much since it is unreliable. For example not all the seeds could be able to germinate even if the conditions were perfect. Seeds should be well selected, to maximize the probability for all of them to be full. There should be at least tree repeats and a control. In this mini experiment the results were:

- no stratification - 8 germinated,

- 4 week stratification and - 4 germinated,

- 8 week stratification were - 9 germinated.

Those were results for 18 seeds sown... Meaning the result was generally poor. Best one was 50%. My single one attempt of germinating Cephalotus was better, when I remember just a single few seeds didn't germinate... something like 1-2 from 10 or 15.

I hope that no one is thinking that I just hate other people and love to disgrace them. Not at all! I just made quite a few scientific experiments myself and I just know how one should look like to bring true results. On the one described I cannot make a judgement if stratification is beneficial or not, or if sowing fresh seeds fast is better than stratifying older ones.

Ron, you had a germination of 4 out of 14 (~29%) and 13 out of 20 (65%) with your method. As you can see, same method and a huge germination rate (ratio?) difference. Now if someone made an experiment with the first set of seeds with stratification and other person made opposite experiment with a second group of seeds. The result would be so different and still meant nothing. It seems that the seeds selection for such experiment would be the biggest effort and there should be a really big control set to determine germination rate for further analysis.

Okay, you already probably hate me for the length of this post. :(

Edited by Cephalotus

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Unfortunately sometimes you get good germination rates and some times you don't. I set up seed from two different lots of imported seeds and none have grown.

Mind you the weather has not been kind to my Cephs this summer, due to long periods of heat. Many of my good plants looked like they died over summer, but the new shoots are coming now. Hopefully the seed I sowed will grow next season. It was all set up much the same as when I had good germination rates of my own seeds. Some of those grew a year later than expected.

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What a fascinating discussion-thank you all for your input!

Cephalotus: Your drosophyllum analogy brought up some interesting facts from my experiments. Fresh Drosophyllum seeds (3-4 weeks from harvesting) had a very low germination rate. Seeds that were a year or older, stored in the refridgerator in a sealed ziplock bag, germinated uniformly without any treatments.

Cacti seeds behave exactly the same way: fresh Ariocarpus seeds had very poor germination (maybe a few here and there), but after being dried at room temperature for a week and then stored in the refridgerator for a year, seeds germinated uniformly and with great success.

With this in mind, I'm intrigued to look at Cephalotus seed germination from a different angle. First off, I want to throw out the idea that they have a short shelf life...the fact that they're just starting to sprout after 6 months of being under lights in warm temps. indicates they probably have a good shelf life, so long as they are stored right (ie. dried for a few days, and then immediately sealed in a ziplock bag and put in cold storage). Will 6 month old seed that are stored properly germinate right away, without stratification?

There is definitely something in the seed that is inhibiting germination. For cacti and Drosophyllums, it makes sense to not sprout after the seeds are produced (which is usually in early summer) because it's dry for too long to sustain seedlings. I don't quite understand cephalotus seasons in the wild enough to make sense of this inhibiting compound, but for sure, 42 days of stratification with very fresh seeds doesn't do squat, haha!

-Mike

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I just found the first few EB x EB seedlings pushing their way above the moss in their pot. Hopefully the first of many. Inspite of being sown in early spring the seed has waited until its normal germination time to grow. Hopefully the rest of my imported seed is doing like wise.

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I have now found the first few seedlings of my other UK Cephs! :D Hopefully the first few of many more to come up. It has been a long wait for signs of life as they have done a 6 month reset of the seasons.

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Nice ! cephalotus from seeds is fun !

This little seedling have 1.5yo approx.

8700669628_8882f211af_b.jpg

Edited by Maiden
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Here's an interesting update:

Seeds sown: 10/2012 (freshly picked from the flower stalks, a week old, dried at room temperature)

Stratified: 42 days

Grow conditions: under 80 watts fluorescent tubes, with bottom heating

Media: pure peat

% germination after 7 months: approx. 50%

Most of them took about 4-5 months before they germinated. Interestingly, seeds that were "hidden" under some sarracenia seedlings (growing in the same pot) had better germination rate than seeds exposed to full light. Might be a humidity issue though. Seeds still continue to germinate, but as stated earlier, the majority took 5-6 months before sprouting.

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Grow conditions: under 80 watts fluorescent tubes, with bottom heating
Any idea what temps the seeds actually experienced?

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