Seed Treatments

Perennials

Species Common name Germination Requirements Species notes
Asclepias incarnata Swamp milkweed Two to three months cold stratification; seeds need exposure to light Found in open wetlands and pond margins in nature, takes well to upland areas;
attracts many pollinators-flies, wasps, Fritillary butterflies; beautiful flower color.
Asclepias syriaca Common milkweed Two to three months cold stratification; seeds need exposure to light Preferred by the Monarchs, and many other pollinators; undeserved title as a "weed".
Clematis virginiana Virgins bower Two to three months cold stratification Climbing vine w/prolific dimunitive lace white flowers in Aug., feeding huge numbers of pollinators
Eupatorium perfoliatum Boneset Two to three months cold stratification Cool looking opposite, clasping leaves on stem; does well in wetlands and uplands; like most asters attracts many pollinators
Eurybia macrophylla Large leave wood aster Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate. Forms large drifts on the forest/field edge where it makes a great ground cover.
Eutrochium maculatum Spotted Joe-Pye weed Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate. TALL growing fellow with softball sized clusters of lacy, pink flowers in late summer; visited by many species of butterflies
Eutrochium fistulosum Hollow Joe Pye weed Two to three months cold stratification; needs light to germinate Smaller growing then spotted Joe-Pye with an extra set of flowers just below the terminal head. Southern Maine is the northern limit of this Joe-pye.
Geranium maculatum Wild geranium Two to three months cold stratification. Grows in part sun at the forest edge or in the field; spectacular dark pastel purple flowers; good for colonization.
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal flower Two to three months cold stratification; seeds need exposure to light Luscious red flowers you can't stop looking at; grows in wet areas, stream sides, often in coarse, gravelly substrate, but does well in our gardens in part shade.
Maianthemum racemosa False Solomon's seal Two to three months cold stratification. Grows in part sun at the forest edge; arching stems bloom with fluffy white flowers and give rise to cool looking red-mottled berries; great under-rated plant that needs to be in more gardens.
Solidago caesia Bridal wreath G-rod Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate. A shade loving G-rod, and by far the most elegant; graceful arching stems graced with yellow flowers and delicate blue-tinged leaves.
Solidago canadensis Common g-rod Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate. The g-rod that you see growing in fields; upright, proud and beautiful with its head of bright chrome yellow flowers; NOT CAUSING HAY FEVER as it is so wrongly accused of doing; feasted upon by many,many pollinators; earlier flowering g-rod.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae New England Aster Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate. Spectacular purple to pink flowers that light up late Autumn when everything else is winding down. Excellent late season food source for pollinators. Maintains its natural form (as opposed to becoming leggy in over-fertile soils) when grown in soil of low to moderate fertility.
Verbena hastata Blue vervain Two to three months cold stratification, needs light to germinate (Cullina, 2000). Tall growing plants of moist and wetland meadows sporting vibrant racemes of brilliant purple flowers; pollinator favorite; long lasting blooms.



Shrubs

Species Common name Germination Requirements Species notes
Amelanchier stolonifera Thicket shadbush Two to three months cold stratification; scarify seeds. Colony forming shadbush, usually not more then 2-3 feet tall; food used by birds, small mammals.
Corylus americana American hazlenut Fall planting or 2-6 month cold stratification (Dirr and Heuser, 2006). Important wildlife food plant-nuts feed many species.
Ilex mucronata (Nemopanthus mucronatus) Mountain holly Seeds need warm moist period followed by cold Similar growth form as Winterberry, but berries are a special matte red, leaves blue green. This plant needs to be known.
Juniperus communis Common juniper Scarify seed to remove waxy coating (Cullina, 2002). Plant seeds in Fall, expect germination by second Spring (Dirr and Heuser, 2006) A plant of immense importance; it spreads over the landscape like a warm blanket providing cover and habitat for many small mammals. The berries feed everything from deer to birds. Rich, shaggy, brown, exfoliating bark; sharp medium green colored needles. I will be offering plants soon.
Kalmia latifolia Mountain laurel Cold stratification may be helpful but not mandatory; best germination at 72 degrees, higher temps. have been shown to hinder germination (Dirr and Heuser, 2006) Seeds collected from wild, native plants in Goffstown N.H.
Spiraea alba Meadowsweet Two to three months cold stratification; seeds need exposure to light Important plant for wildlife. Dense drifts of this shrub seem to be preferred nesting sites for song birds; copious seed production is an important food source for many rodents and birds; flowers attract large number of pollinators-butterflies, wasps, and bees. Grows in dry open upland areas mostly, but sometimes in wetlands too.
Spiraea tomentosa Steeplebush Two to three months cold stratification; seeds need exposure to light Spectacular shrub of open wetlands,and meadows with moist soils; leaves are covered with a thick pubescence (hair) flowers are pyramidal in shape and usually come with a pink tinge to them. Like Meadowsweet, flowers attract large numbers of pollinators.
Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides Witherod 60 days of warm moist stratification, 60 days cold moist strat., germination after moving back to warmth. Fruit goes through multiple color changes before ripening-white,red, then blue/black-the most appealing aspect of this shrub; excellent for wildlife as animals love the fruit.
Viburnum lantanoides Hobblebush 60 days of warm moist stratification, 60 days cold moist strat., germination after moving back to warmth. Saucer plate sized flower clusters come out before the leaves in Spring, brilliant red fruit in late summer; superb spreading shrub


Trees

Species Common name Germination Requirements Species notes
Thuja occidentalis Northern white cedar Two to three months cold stratification Found growing happily in wetlands and uplands in its native haunts.

References

Cullina, William A. 2000. Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Cullina, William A. 2002. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines-A Guide to using, growing, and propagating Native American Woody Plants. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Dirr, Michael and C. Heuser Jr. 2006. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture. Varsity Press, Cary, NC.

Haines, Arthur. 2011. New England Wildflower Society's Flora Novae Angliae. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.


Explanation of seed germination terms.

Unlike vegetable seeds, most of our native plant seeds need to have a pre-treatment before they can be expected to grow. In nature, seeds rely on certain environmental cues like exposure to light, seasonal temperature fluctuations of certain duration, and degradation of the fleshy seed coat.

The challenges of germinating some of our native species from seed cannot be over-emphasized. I make the attempt to supply pertinent germination information on this website taken from my experiences and trusted texts. It is up to the purchaser to do their own research as well to ensure best success. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or comments.

Stratification is treating the seeds at a certain temperature for a period of time, usually under moist conditions. Many of our natives need this cold period, followed by a warm period, before they can germinate. In nature this cold period is Winter, followed by warmth in the Spring and Summer.

Light- Plants of open sunny habitats often require the presence of light to germinate; this cue tells them they are in the right place. Seeds can persist in the seed bank for years waiting until a break in the forest canopy or some other disturbance unleashes the sunlight.

Steady humidity is found in many habitats, like sphagnum moss bogs, wetlands, and rich shady uplands. Plants coming from these habitats grow in near constant humidity, and so too must their seeds. These requirements can pose a challenge for growers, but they can be met in various ways. Humidity domes over trays or sphagnum moss on top of your growing media can maintain moist, but not saturated soil conditions.


Updated on April 7, 2017



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