The Q&A Archives: Germinating Trillium

Question: I'm a big fan of our native trilliums here in western Washington state. I have four stands of them, but would love to take the seed and create more. How would I go about starting them from the seeds that each bloom produces? Thank you! Ray Eickhoff Bothell, WA

Answer: Gather the berries when they are falling to the ground or when the seeds inside the berries are turning brown. Don't wait until all the berries have fallen because the ants will beat you to the seeds and all you will find are empty berries! Remove theseed from the berries and plant immediately. Be sure to keep them watered. They like a soil that is full of humus! If the seeds dry out, they will not germinate for several years! But they WILL eventually germinate!! If you've kept them watered (not soggy though) they will germinate the following spring. The trouble is that you wou't see anything. They produce a very tiny root and a very small leaf that frequently doesn't emerge above the soil. Wait one more winter and the second spring after youplanted the will finally see a single leaf. It will be long and narrow. Wait another winter and after the third spring, the characteristic three leaves radiating from a single stem will appear. After a few more winters and a few more springs, the plant will be big enough to bloom. That's about 4-7 years! Trilliums require alot of patience! But they are sure worth it! Not all species will behave as stated above but we don't know alot about their germination habits!

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