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Feb 3, 2011 10:31 AM CST
|Hello everyone, I am a newbie here. I am looking for advice in growing marts from seeds. Please share your techniques and growing medium. Thank you.|
Feb 5, 2011 1:32 AM CST
|Martagons are fairly easy germinators, but not one for immediate gratification. They have delayed hypogeal germination. |
Hypogeal because the first leaf it sends up is not a cotyledon, as with most plants, but actually a true leaf. This is because the seed first produces a tiny bulb, and from that bulb comes the leaf. So the first leaf does not come from the seed.
Delayed because the seed first produces a tiny bulb, and then must go through a cold season before it will send up a leaf.
So in nature, the seed does not send up a leaf until its second season after planting:
Season 1: germinates and produces a tiny bulb
--- then winter ---
Season 2: the tiny bulb sends up a leaf.
With martagons, only one leaf is produced in season 2. Usually only one leaf is sent up in season 3 also, but it is much larger. Thus, a minimum of 5 years is needed for bloom, and it may take longer.
This may help you some:
The first time I grew martagons from seed, I didn't know any of this. I planted them in a pot, as I would with any other seed, and of course the first summer, nothing happened above ground. I figured the seeds either rotted, or are still sitting there, ungerminated. But I knew that many seeds (not necessarily lilies) will germinate after a summer or winter season in the soil, so I have always made it a practice to keep all seeded pots for at least two years. That second season, my martagons showed. I was very pleased, and later that year I read what had really happened.
Those seeds I had planted in ordinary potting soil, and kept them bagged to keep the moisture constant through the spring and early summer. When "nothing" happened, I removed the bag and just watered them as I did all my other potted materials.
So this is the simplest way to grow martagons from seed.
May I recommend this first time, even it just becomes an experiment that later fails, that you use this upcoming method, that in addition to being able to see the tiny bulb formation, can cut the maturation time significantly.
1. Start with ziplock baggies. I usually use 2 x 3 inch or 3 x 5 inch size.
2. Use a growing medium that is soiless. Peat or fine vermiculite seem to work the best for me. I like vermiculite because it is easier to see the brown seeds in it. A soiless medium means less disease problems, as there is very little "food" for disease organisms to grow on.
3. Moisten the medium just enough so it sticks together, but not waterlogged. Vermiculite stores a lot of water within itself. If you use vermiculite, the "sticking together" test doesn't work. Think back when you were a kid, playing in a sandbox. The amount of moisture in the sand that you would need to build with, that's what you are striving for here. If clumps of vermiculite stick to your hands, there is too much water. If individual vermiculite granules stick to you, that is good.
4. Wet the seeds and stick them to the bottom of the ziplock bag that is laying flat. Spoon the medium over the seeds, and fill the bag. The seeds will easily be visible through the plastic, so you will be able to monitor their progress.
Alternatively: first fill the bag loosely with your growing medium, and then put the seeds on top of the mix as the baggy lays flat on the table. A drop of water on the end of a toothpick will grab a dry seed for easy placement.
5. Close the baggie, and place them in a warm 65-70 F area, seed side down. If any seeds mold, they have either been damaged beyond repair, or were not alive to begin with. If possible, try to remove them.
6. Within 2 weeks, seeds should be visibly plumped, and somewhat translucent. If none are plump, then you most likely need to add a bit more water. Just a bit: use an eye dropper or similar. If some are plump and some not, than most likely the unplump ones were never alive.
7. At this stage you may see some germination, with a "root" emerging from the seed. This is actually a kind of stem (not a root) called a hypocotyl. At the end of this stem, a bulb will form. (This stem may be as long as a half inch, but is typical an eighth to a quarter inch long. Rarely it is so short that the bulb is formed inside the seed.) From the opposite end of the bulb, a true root will emerge. Depending on different factors, like the age or vigor of the seed, germination should take place in 2-4 weeks.
8. Keep the seeds in the warm stage for at least 3 months total. Four months will produce a bigger little bulb, if you have the time. There is no need for light, and no need for dark during these months.
9. Now is the time for the cold treatment. Put the baggie in the refrigerator for 3 months or longer. If you have to, 2 months is probably sufficient. Six months is fine, but put it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, or the bulbs may sprout prematurely. If you cold store them longer than 3 months, place the baggie seed side up. That way if they begin to sprout, you will be able to see the action. Stored seed side down, any sprouting will be into the medium and blocked from your view.
10. When the cold treatment is over, gently remove the bulbs and plant in a suitable potting soil in a pot 5 inches or more deep. Seedlings will remain in this pot for 2 or more years. They are too tiny and fragile to go directly in the garden. Leaves will emerge from the bulbs, not the old seed coverings. If, for whatever reason, the old seed is removed, lost, rotted or whatever, it is of no consequence.
Rather than opening the baggie by its traditional ziplock, cut one side completely open, and gently turn the contents into a prepared pot. Don't worry that bulbs are (or are not) upright. They will right themselves as they grow. Better to handle the tiny bulbs as little as possible. this is an easy time for damage to occur, and infections to take place. Aim to plant the bulbs one quarter to one half inch deep.
11. Keep moist, and grow in the shade. Only one leaf will emerge per seedling, so try to make the most of it, and keep it alive for as long as possible. Typically, that first leaf may last for only a month or two. The longer it stays green, the larger the bulb it produces.
12. If leaves all die off, you can reduce watering, but don't let the pot go completely dry. For the rest of the summer, the bulb is not sleeping, but is actually growing. However, since it has no leaves, water needs are minimal.
- - - - - - - - -
Using this method, starting in the fall, you can cram 2 years of growth into just one year. The 3 month warm treatment(started in the fall) is equivalent to the first natural 6 month spring/summer, and the ensuing 3 month cold treatment is equivalent to the 6 month fall/winter. That would be your first "year", abbreviated to just 6 months. Your second season of growth for the seed will begin with the ensuing natural spring.
Okay. If your head is spinning, I'm sure you're not alone. But it is what it is. That's why you should think of it as a fun journey, and not be too disappointed if you falter along the way.
Martagon seed. The photo is back lit so you can see inside the seed. Normally the center part of the seed is opaque and dark brown.
Martagon seed growth.
Feb 5, 2011 8:15 AM CST
|Just wanted to say welcome!|
Is you real name Lily?
Thanks for posting the great info, Rick.
Click here for Siberian Iris Gardens!
Feb 5, 2011 11:23 AM CST
|Rick, thank you so much for the wealth of informations you have shared. The seeds were already planted prior to posting this thread. I also found the article written by Darm Crook for the Genus Lilium site. I am not sure if I did plant them right hence my posting here. Wetting the seeds is a good advice and does make sense which I did not do. The media I used is mixed perlite, vermiculite and seed starting mix as I ran out of peat and I did sow the seeds on the day of the blizzard here in IL. Hope it works.|
I purchased a mini fridge for these projects. I have lily bulblets spending their first winter in it and my lily seeds are stored in there too. What is the coldest temp that you suggest?
Looking at the germinated seeds, it also make sense using vermiculite. BTW,that is a great photo. Your methods and techniques should be published in the NALS QB. It will certainly help a lot of lily enthusiasts venturing in growing marts from seeds.
Below is a photo of how my seeds are sown. They are stored in a warm area in my basement. If my first try sowing mart seeds fail, I can always buy some more at NALS Seed Exchange. I am waiting for it right now. I will definitely adapt your growing methods the next time.
Thanks again. I appreciate it.
Feb 5, 2011 11:25 AM CST
|Polly, thanks for the warm welcome and yes my name is Lily (Lilia).|
Feb 5, 2011 11:27 AM CST
|Polly, I realized that I posted in the wrong forum. Can you move it where it belong?|
Feb 5, 2011 11:39 AM CST
|Lilia, what a beautiful name! You sooooo belong here. |
What forum would you like me to put it in, and I can move, it, but actually it's fine here.
And if you don't mind, would you come over to this thread and introduce yourself. Thanks!
Click here for Siberian Iris Gardens!
Feb 5, 2011 12:04 PM CST
|Thank you for the detailed instructions.|
I will follow them with the next ones as I already did a WS of these ones.
Kept them 6 weeks in a warm bathroom and now they are outside the house.
I'll keep them through another winter if no results this spring.
Feb 5, 2011 12:13 PM CST
|Thank you Polly! If it is fine here, leave it here then.|
Feb 5, 2011 10:13 PM CST
|Some people do soak orientpet lily seeds in water first, and claim beneficial results. Others don't. But as a general rule, soaking lily seeds is not needed or done. I meant to wet the seeds at that very moment, only so they would stick to the bottom of the baggie, and stay put while you fill it with the peat/vermiculite.|
Perlite is just fine to use, but don't use it exclusively when germinating seeds. Since perlite does not absorb water, and only holds a small amount on the outside of the granules, it would be very difficult to maintain the correct moisture level for any length of time. Adding peat or vermiculite alleviates the problem. Seed starting mixes are soiless, and are usually composed of peat and vermiculite, and sometimes perlite too. Your media should be just fine, Lily.
Regarding your mini fridge, since you have bulbs in there the coldest temp would be 33F. Dry lily seeds in storage last the longest in a deep freeze. Even zero degrees is fine. Seeds could easily be kept for 10 years this way with no loss of germination. Keep the freeze/thaw cycles to a minimum.
"My" method is really not mine. Even the sticking wet seeds to the bag was adapted from someone else.
Caroline, that's good advice you are giving yourself:
I'll keep them through another winter if no results this spring.
Sometimes seeds are just stubborn, and we can't mimic mother nature to their satisfaction. So another year under her care is a good plan.
Feb 6, 2011 8:57 PM CST
|That is what I did to the OT seeds I got from Dr. G. They are in the fridge right now after the 5 days soaking. I had sown asiatic and trumpet seeds with great success last year. OT and hypogeal seeds are new to me this year. Have you grown kelloggi and michiganense from seeds? If so, how these two species 'behaves'? I know they have hypogeal germination but as they are species, maybe they are finicky.|
It is great to know that my media is just fine. Can't wait to see baby mart bulbs in three months time!
I will freeze my seeds if I can't sow them all this spring. I will be away for a month so I am not sowing any epigeal seeds right now. Thanks for all of the info. I am soaking them all in.
Feb 7, 2011 10:27 AM CST
|I have grown michanense seeds in the traditional (simplest) manner on two separate occasions. They performed normally, although with this method, it is hard to give any growth specifics.|
This winter I went back to using the baggies for my hypogeal germinating lily seeds. Compared to other species, L. michiganense and L. superbum needed more moisture in the medium than others, especially the ones native to the Caucasus (L. monadelphum,L. szovitsianum of which I have four accessions).
Out of three viable michiganense seeds, only one has actually germinated so far. It has produced a tiny bulb inside the original seed sheath! This is what makes the baggie method so fun: I can actually seed the hypgeal stem that terminates with the bulb, even as it grows inside the seed.
Years ago I did germate L. kelloggii, with the bag method, according to recommended procedures. See Darm's articles. While it was fun to see the bulb growth and leaf emergence at approximately 50F within the bag, transplanting the delicate things proved fatal to most, and the others didn't last much longer. I hoped the bulb was just dormant, but these western species tend to be very finicky (excluding L. pardalinum) in our eastern climates. Of them, L. columbianum is reported the easiest to grow as mature plants. Still, I couldn't get even that species past the 1 year stage from seed. If I ever try these again, I will plant seed directly in to a pot of soil.
Regarding freezing seed, you may want to look at this:
Anthony, regarding the gloriosoides seed you sent me (for which I am forever grateful), there looked to be two or three viable seed. Three have plumped, one of which has just begun germinating after moving them to 60-65F. At 68-70F, they plumped just fine, but seemed to do nothing more. When I germinated L. speciosum var. rubrum years before, I experience the same results - germination not at 68-70F, but growth at 60-65F.
Feb 7, 2011 5:51 PM CST
|Thanks for the great information. One question, when you start your seeds (3 months heat) do you place them in a lighted room or a dark area.|
Feb 7, 2011 9:46 PM CST
|Just because of convenience, they are on a high shelf in an upstairs room with windows, so they get natural indirect light. When I germinated the western American lily species that need ~50-55F, like kelloggii, they were in a box open to the cinder block wall in the basement. Absolutely no light there, even when they initiated their first leaf.|
Feb 8, 2011 10:19 AM CST
|Rick, I learned a lot from you. You unselfishly shared your knowledge with me. Thank you so much. I will sow the kelloggii seeds in pots come summertime.|
Feb 8, 2011 11:05 AM CST
sgardener said: I will sow the kelloggii seeds in pots come summertime.
I don't think that will work, unless you plan on bringing the pots in for the winter and keep them around 50F at least until a leaf emerges. kelloggii seed germinates and develops and send up the first leaf, all at about 50F. In nature, they germinate in the fall and develop through their mild winter. Once they have gone through these stages, then they might adapt to our regular seasons.
Feb 8, 2011 11:15 AM CST
|I forgot about the temp. |
Thanks again and I will post my success or failure in germinating seeds of this species.
Feb 8, 2011 4:25 PM CST
|That would be great. Not that I speak from experience, but they say there is more than one way to skin a cat. |
Still, you may stumble into something...
Feb 10, 2011 10:32 AM CST
|Leftwood - (Rick)|
I know you can start your Martagon seeds at any time, but when do you think is the best month?
Thanks for all the help....
Feb 10, 2011 5:39 PM CST
|That would depend you your growing season. Optimally, that would be 6-7 months before your spring. That would leave 3-4 months incubation time (when the seed produces the tiny bulb), and 3 months for the cold treatment that will allow ensuing leaf growth. I don't know where Arcata is relation to temperature zones (you may want to add your zone to your profile under "Your account") so I am not sure how helpful my answer is. Your aim is to have them sprout when they normally would outside in your climate, so it will be well established and ready for winter.|
That said, I can't say I always follow my own advice. Every year there is some fudging with some seeds, for whatever reason. Delayed hypogeal germinating seeds (which include martagons) that I receive in seed exchanges in January and February are usually held over until the following November. Alternatively, they could be just planted in spring, and hope they germinate ('cause you won't know until the following year when (or if) they send up a leaf.