Daylilies forum: daylily seed spoiling

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Name: Linda Curtis
Prince Edward Island, Canada (Zone 5b)
1peislander
Dec 16, 2016 9:30 AM CST
Hi All,
I am having a problem with my daylily seeds spoiling in storage. I dried the seeds 2-3 days, put them in zip lock bags and stored them in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Now many are moldy or rotten.
Should I toss all of the bags with any spoiled seeds or is there any hope of salvaging seeds that showed no sign of spoilage but were in the same bag as the spoiled ones?
Name: Linda Curtis
Prince Edward Island, Canada (Zone 5b)
1peislander
Dec 16, 2016 9:44 AM CST
Hi again,
Further to my previous question on seed spoiling, any suggestions on seed drying / storage so this doesn't happen next year? Thanks in advance for your help.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 16, 2016 10:22 AM CST
The moldy ones may have molded because they were not viable. I would be inclined to start the firm ones unless you have a lot and you are concerned some pathogen might have spread to them. It takes 2-3 weeks to air dry daylily seeds to a low moisture content according to research. They don't need to be stored in a fridge although it can prolong the storage time especially in a warmer more humid climate. In paper bags/envelopes in a cool dry room is fine, that's how I've stored mine. They only go in the fridge for stratification (in damp vermiculite) a few weeks before I plan to start them.

People that store them with a relatively high internal moisture content (such as yours would be after only 2-3 days) often put a piece of kitchen paper towel in with them to soak up any condensation. How effective that is I don't know because I've never done it that way.
Name: Linda Curtis
Prince Edward Island, Canada (Zone 5b)
1peislander
Dec 16, 2016 11:42 AM CST
Hi Sue,
Thanks for your suggestions! I did put a piece of paper towel in each bag of seeds to stabilize the humidity level. I will try drying them much longer next season and will also try paper envelopes as well. Live and learn! Again, thanks for your help; it's much appreciated!
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Dec 16, 2016 12:50 PM CST
Agree that stored seeds should not be in plastic, I've even had issues with metal containers.
The problem with paper.... Is that bugs may consume stored seed.
I usually planted daylily seed as soon as I collected them.
I've never had an issue with dormancy requirements.... The seeds generally come up readily.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 16, 2016 1:18 PM CST
Linda, if you use paper bags/envelopes you might want to keep those bags in a larger container such as a biscuit tin or something like that just to stabilize the humidity in the environment.

Stone, I don't know why some daylily seeds benefit from stratification while other peoples' don't. I once thought I'd prove that they don't have seed dormancy after I'd germinated some on a sunny windowsill in April with their never have been stratified or even stored in the fridge. So, I collected some more seeds and this time tried starting them in fall. Just to compare, I stratified some and started some without stratification. To my surprise, the unstratified ones had erratic germination spread out over weeks, even months. The stratified ones all germinated together within a week or two. So the difference may be in the time they are started, the starting temperature, or that the environment the seeds experienced during development determined whether they had seed dormancy or not - or all of the above. In some cases seed dormancy may have been bred out by people not waiting for the stragglers. Whatever the reason, it results in some confusion when people compare methods of starting daylily seeds.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Dec 16, 2016 1:26 PM CST
sooby said:I collected some more seeds and this time tried starting them in fall. Just to compare, I stratified some and started some without stratification. To my surprise, the unstratified ones had erratic germination spread out over weeks, even months.

Ok, sounds like you stored the seeds....
My method is to plant immediately.

Dry storage does things to seeds. Not surprised that they lost some viability.

How do you plant columbines and echinacea?
I plant them immediately as well....
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Dec 16, 2016 1:42 PM CST
I dried daylily and iris seeds for a couple of months and then refrigerated them in a wet paper towel and plastic bag. I have sometimes used Rootone, a powdered rooting compound which is also a fungicide on the daylily seed and also iris seed and didn't see a difference. I've never had a problem with spoiled seed. I suspect that you didn't dry them sufficiently.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 16, 2016 2:14 PM CST
stone said:
Ok, sounds like you stored the seeds....
My method is to plant immediately.

Dry storage does things to seeds. Not surprised that they lost some viability.

How do you plant columbines and echinacea?
I plant them immediately as well....


Yes, they were stored. They are harvested too late to start immediately in this climate. But the longer stored ones were the ones I started in spring with no pre-treatment and which had 90+% germination within a week or two. The ones that benefited from stratification were not stored for as long because they were started in fall. There was no loss of viability, the germination % wasn't different but the non-stratified ones in fall took longer to germinate than the stratified ones.

I have also experimented with straight from the pod - same thing, seed dormancy. With other plant seeds dormancy can wear off in dry storage, so that's a possibility. But it may just be a mechanism determined by the climate or time of year of seed maturity or something like that.

I haven't tried columbines or echinacea. I would just let them self-seed. On a related note, though, I've tested a species daylily seeds for seed dormancy and about 25% would germinate immediately while the rest had seed dormancy. In some formal research decades ago in Illinois it was found that about 55% of the daylily seeds in their tests had seed dormancy. Some more recent research in Japan also found seed dormancy in two species daylilies that grow wild there.

Anyone who has been breeding daylilies for a while and who doesn't stratify may, as I suggested above, be selecting against seed dormancy if they don't wait for the later germinating ones. Say you have seed dormancy in 40% of your daylily seeds but you only keep the 60% that germinate quickly, then over time you are possibly selecting against seed dormancy. It may also be that seed dormancy is more likely in seeds matured in colder climates.
Name: Ashton & Terry
Jones, OK (Zone 7a)
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kidfishing
Dec 16, 2016 11:59 PM CST
I have tried seeds many different ways. I have some that were planted as soon as the pods were harvested. I have others that were dried for 2 or 3 days and then dry stored in the fridge in plastic bags with a piece of dry paper towel. I have kept them in dry storeage in paper cups and paper envelopes at room temp. I also have seeds that are in the fridge in moist vermiculite. I have had very few mold in storage over the past 8 years. I have had several damp off or mold after planting but not in storage.
Kidfishing
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
Dec 17, 2016 6:02 AM CST
I rarely dry out seeds. I cannot afford to leave them out or the cats find them. Mainly because I am getting vaguer about making sure things are shut.
I put them straight into the crisper in zip bags. Even in plastic they dry out over the months and become light weight and crinkled. I plant seed over a year old.
I rarely get mould and most of the seed is fine. This may be luck, however.

Name: bron
NSW-Qld border Australia
DD + her little ones
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bron
Dec 17, 2016 7:21 AM CST
Today I harvested 2 fat seeds from a bee pod on Alexander's 'Maleny Eyecatcher'. They went straight onto a paper towel folded around them then into a ziplock bag and the fridge. They are not sitting in the water but there is quite a bit of water in the bag. I write the name and date on the paper towel

I did once but would never again plant seeds outside here. Over about 6 weeks I check and put them on a new paper towel and rinse the bag. Then I put them on the dining room table so I could keep an eye on them. When there is 1/2 " of green leaf and a root formed I plant them with the black seed just visible in small pots with a mix of peat moss, gravel and fairly fine old compost. Some I planted first into vermiculite.

I now have 55 sdlgs that I will have to plant out somewhere. But today was 33 degrees C here with winds that caused blackouts and no internet. So even though the sdlgs in pots are outside, they are protected most of the day.
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Dec 17, 2016 8:10 AM CST
I always dry my seeds for 3 days minimum. I store in plastic baggies in the fridge and rarely have any mold. One summer I had a huge amount of crosses take and my crisper was so full that I could barely get it closed. That caused about 10 packages to mold. I think the fact that I had so many in the crisper caused the molding and there was not enough air circulation in there. I have also noticed that certain cultivar's seeds require more drying time than others. When I had Roses in Snow, I would have to dry the seeds from that one a few days longer or the seeds would always mold. Another cultivar's seeds that will mold if they are not dried longer is Pastel Classic.
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Name: Greg Bogard
Winston-Salem, NC (Zone 7a)
Sscape
Dec 17, 2016 10:25 AM CST
I guess the first thing to ask is: When are you harvesting the seeds? Are you letting the pods go the recommended 6 weeks before harvesting the seeds? Are the seeds dark, plump, shiny and black? Are they of varying size from the same pod? All these things will have an influence on the viability of the seeds, and therefore will determine if the seed rots, or not. Keep track of when you make the crosses so you know how old the pods are. In week five, start looking at the pods. If the pods are getting brown---are the brown areas dry, or wet? If dry, that's OK--they can go longer. Many cultivars will only set seed in one or two of the 3 to 4 chambers of the pod. Many times the plant will shut off nutrients and water to those chambers, and they will dry---while the other chambers stay green. As long as the dry chamber does not start to rot when wet (rain), it will not effect the rest of the pod. If it stays wet after a rain storm, and feels slimy to touch---especially if it smells bad, the pod needs to be harvested. If the pod is at least 5 weeks old, set it somewhere where it will dry for a few days before opening the green chambers. If the seeds that come out at that time are as described earlier, then give them the squeeze test.
The squeeze test is pretty simple. Take each seed between your thumb and forefinger and give it a gentle, but fairly firm, squeeze. If you detect any give to the hull---like squeezing a rubber ball---the seed is probably not viable. The best seeds are the ones that have no "give" to them---they are hard and shiny black, and can withstand a pretty hard squeeze before bursting. (This takes some practice. Test this on some seeds that are not the ones you want to save before you start to squeeze your prized ones.) However, there is some gray area to this evaluation. There are rare cultivars that produce seeds that are never hard and shiny. I have a great pink cultivar that is a seedling produced by Stoeri that routinely opens the pod on week four or five, produces elongated, soft, wrinkly (they look like skinny raisins), dark brown seeds that are extremely viable. On the other hand, I have a plant that routinely produces seeds at week 6 that are hard and shiny--and pass the squeeze test, but are brown in color and do not germinate. These examples are the rare exceptions--not the norm. Color and hardness are the best predictors of viability.
I let the seeds dry for two to three hours (I have the cat problem, too) and then put them in plastic snack baggies that I get from Lowe's Food. I have tried the ones from Food Lion, and other grocery stores, but the ones from Lowe's are a bit sturdier, seal better, and allow drying better than the others. In the bags with the seeds goes a piece of copier paper approximately 2" x 3.5" upon which is written the name of the parents of the seeds, i.e.: Blue Pink Beauty x Bella Sera. I use the whitest, thickest, most high quality typing/copier paper I can find. The reason for that is that that kind of paper has the highest amount of residual chlorine left in it. The chlorine acts as a disinfectant that helps prevent rot. It also absorbs excess moisture from the seeds and distributes that moisture over a larger area in the bag. I store the bags in paper lunch bags in a refrigerator that is set at 45 degrees. I check the seeds after a week or two. Some seeds are pretty moist when harvested (especially if it rained the day before, or the day of---harvest). In those cases there may be visible water in the bag, or a moist area on the paper that is more than 1/2" in diameter. This can also happen if there are too many seeds in one bag. I generally place no more than eight seeds/bag to prevent this from happening. If there is only a small moist, but not wet area on the paper, I will rearrange the seeds in the bag to get them on a drier area of the paper.
A little moisture in the bag will keep the seeds viable in storage longer. Also, many times, it will decrease the need for stratification of the seeds before planting. If you know that stratification is needed for some seeds (both parents are Hard Dormant varieties), it is easy to do. Just add a few drops of sterile water to the seeds in the bag a couple of weeks before you want to plant them. Keep a daily watch on them to see when the husk starts to break open and the root just starts to emerge from the seed. That seed will need planting right away. Daily watching will also detect any rot that starts up on one or more of the seeds that could threaten the viability of all the seeds. The white paper in the bag with the cross name on it serves another purpose at this time. If the moisture around a seed has a brownish hue to it, open the bag and inspect the seeds---especially that one. It may be starting to go bad, and can be removed.
Seeds processed and stored this way have retained as much as 50% viability after three years. So---that great cross you made last year that you just did not have the room to plant then---go ahead. More than you think will germinate. I hope this information has been helpful.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 17, 2016 10:47 AM CST
"If you know that stratification is needed for some seeds (both parents are Hard Dormant...)"

Greg, have you personally tested that foliage habit is correlated with seed dormancy? Previously published research suggests it is not, so just wondering. Also, I have tested seeds that were selfed from a dormant parent and some had seed dormancy and some did not although admittedly the split was 75:25. Likewise I have tested seeds from a semi-ev pod parent and some had seed dormancy and some did not. This is registered foliage habit because all daylilies are functionally dormant in this climate.

IMHO one has to find out from experience whether one can expect seed dormancy in one's seeds or not - if any daylily seeds take longer than a couple of weeks or so, three at most, to germinate then they would probably be considered to have had seed dormancy.

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