The Q&A Archives: Vernalization

Question: I am in the process of vernalizing purple coneflower and milkweed by keeping the seeds in the refrigerator. The instructions call for 3 to 10 weeks of chilling. Can I shorten this time by putting the seeds in the freezer? Will this harm their viability?

Answer: Unfortunately you can't rush Mother Nature. Your seeds require a certain chilling period with temperatures in a range that's optimal for that type seed. Putting the seeds in the freezer would defeat the purpose of treating them to an extended period of cool temperatures. Try planting some of the seeds at the end of the 3 week period to see how well they germinate. Then plant a few more a week later. Eventually you'll discover the minimum chilling period required by your current batch of seeds.

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