Propagation forum: Colchicum autumnale

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Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Nov 28, 2015 9:46 AM CST
Anybody have tips for how to start these from seeds? This is the first time I'll be starting any plants from the Colchicum genus from seeds, and I have no idea about how or where to start.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Nov 28, 2015 3:47 PM CST
You picked a genus that requires a lot of patience. Although, supposedly most of the species only need a warm treatment before the cold, and I think most germinate at around 40°F. But it seems in reality, not many people are successful without going through multiple warm/cold cycles. I've tried several times and have only gotten four seedlings that germinated 3-4 years after planting.
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Nov 28, 2015 5:51 PM CST
Four seedlings after four years! Blinking My goodness, that's a long wait. Thank you for sharing your experience, Rick.
I think I will try soaking the seeds for two days to get rid of any germination inhibitors, and then try the moist paper towel germination method. If that doesn't work, the seeds are going to go through cycles of 2 weeks at room temp. followed by 2 weeks in the fridge.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Nov 28, 2015 9:35 PM CST
Those 4 week cycles will be too short to be effective. Just an educated guess, but I would recommend a minimum of 2 months per treatment (4 months for a cycle). There are a lot of people on the SRGC forum (Scottish Rock Garden Club) with experience. srgc.net/forum It is an easily searchable forum, but specific information might be lacking. However, if you ask a question, members will be happy to oblige. You have to register to post, but it is free. I could ask for you, but you may not get the answers you need because I might not ask the question(s) in the way you want. Smiling

P.S. If I initially soak seeds, I always use distilled water or rain water (or untreated well water). All the junk they put into municipal water supplies can't be good.
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Nov 28, 2015 10:26 PM CST
Thanks, Rick. I'll try asking around on the SRGC forum.

I haven't had much trouble with using tap water for soaking seeds before. Surprising, really, since it's both very hard water and sometimes has a pH above 8.30. Big Grin I do have access to a lab with a Milli-Q water purification machine, so I'll see if using deionized water increases the germination success rate.

A 2-month warm, 2-month cold cycle might mimic the natural seasonal cycle better, but I am impatient. Whistling Since I have a fairly large batch of seeds to work with (~300) I will try several methods just to see what works the best.
[Last edited by Phenolic - Dec 1, 2015 5:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Nov 29, 2015 9:41 PM CST
If you come up with any meaningful data, we would all love to see it. Keep us posted, please!
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 3, 2016 6:49 PM CST
Ran into this quite by accident. No experience growing safron crocus from seed, but I have grown things that make "bulbs". I am wondering if the post above mentioning 3 - 4 years for germination is correct. Once germination occurs, you have to wait for the bulb to form and that can take quite some time.

I started 3 things that make "bulbs" in February 2014 - Siberian Iris, Dietes and Dierama. Fortunately I did not have to jump thru stratification cycles hoops as mentioned above. All 3 germinated in ~ 3 months and I have been growing them out (bulb making) since. The 2 D plants are in a back bedroom for protection as they are not hardy here.

I will keep this in mind and if I run into any info, will let you know.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Aug 18, 2017 6:06 PM CST
Update on my attempts in germinating Colchicum autumnale seeds:

Despite trying alternating warm-cold cycles of up to 6 months, nothing germinating in the first year. I dumped the potting mix and seeds in my garden, but even after two years nothing has germinated! I will try again with fresh seed from a reliable source, instead of seed of dubious quality from Ebay.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
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CarolineScott
Aug 19, 2017 8:56 AM CST
Just ordered seeds and will be trying to germinate colchicum autumnale. Doing research now on these.

When does the plant form seeds? Fall ? or following spring ?
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Aug 19, 2017 9:12 AM CST
CarolineScott said:Just ordered seeds and will be trying to germinate colchicum autumnale. Doing research now on these.

When does the plant form seeds? Fall ? or following spring ?


I believe the flower is pollinated in the fall, but the seeds do not ripen until the following year.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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CarolineScott
Aug 20, 2017 8:31 PM CST
Sometimes seed timing gives clues as to best germination method.
I think I'll go with warm then cool.
Or divide the seeds and try different methods.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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CarolineScott
Sep 12, 2017 7:38 AM CST
There is little info on Colichicum autumnale, but people have sped up germination of other Colichicum species with GA-3,
the plant hormone. It works on some species ,but not on others. I might try it with a few seeds.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Sep 12, 2017 3:54 PM CST
Always ere on the skimpy side with GA3. You may actually get better germination with more, but there can be side effects that spell demise in the end.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
CarolineScott
Sep 12, 2017 6:37 PM CST
Yes, the seedlings can be weak or malformed if the GA-3 is too strong. Or they fail to grow. I wonder at some research studies which used higher concentrations to germinate only a few more .
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Sep 12, 2017 7:09 PM CST
Is there a reason why you want to propagate from seeds and not bulbs? I have a few varieties of colchicums. How do you go about getting the colchicum flower heads to form seeds? I can propagate some seeds for you for free if you are interested in them and willing to pay me postage for them. I have these varieties:

Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum'
Colchicum autumnale 'Album'
Colchicum Byzantinum
Colchicum Tenorii

Some NOIDs
Thumb of 2017-09-13/kousa/dd5b40




Thumb of 2017-09-13/kousa/82f448

Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Sep 12, 2017 10:44 PM CST
If fall blooming colchicum flowers are fertilized, the seed pod that is produced is at ground level, probably just peaking above the ground. The seed wouldn't ripen until the following spring or maybe even not until the foliage dies back Shrug! . Whether a zone 6b winter is warm enough to allow for that, I don't know.

Sometimes it is more fun to follow a species through its entire growth cycle, from seed to maturity. Some of us don't just grow flowers for the flowers. Smiling Seedlings (as opposed to asexually propagated plants) usually assure the lack of virus transmission, and also produce healthier, more vigorous seeds themselves.
[Last edited by Leftwood - Sep 12, 2017 10:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
CarolineScott
Sep 13, 2017 4:12 AM CST
My motivation to grow things from seed is two fold:

1. One bulb is $5 CDN
2. I am an inveterate sucker for a challenge in gardening.

The bulbs may eventually split into two, but that is a slow process too.

If I am successful with these seeds, then maybe I would try for other species.

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