Germinating Sweet Violet and Soapwort Seeds
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Howard Effron
Posted: Before April 1998

I am a commercial grower and want to know if I planted sweet violet and soapwort right. I covered the seed with a little soiless mix, watered them and now they are in the greenhouse at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The pack said that these seeds are dormant and they are hard to germinate. Should I stick the flats out in the cold weather for a couple of weeks after a couple of weeks in the greenhouse, the pack says to refrigerate for a couple of weeks after sowing indoors. I might add that the seeds were refrigerated for about 1 month before I planted them.

Storing seeds dry in the refrigerator does not have any effect on the seeds other than to preserve them a little longer. Exposure to cold while dry does not help to initiate the germination process. When cold treatment is called for it means exposure to cold after the seeds have imbibed water.

Cold treatment can be done in several ways. One is to place the seed box (already seeded and watered in the normal way) in a refrigerator for at least 4 weeks and often longer depending on the species. A second is to mix the seeds in moist sand in a bag or box and store in a refrigerator. Third is to place the seed box outdoors, either leaving it out for the duration of the winter or bringing it in after 2-4 weeks.

In the case of sweet violet, we find that we get the best results when the seeds get 8-12 weeks exposure to a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). We also get good results leaving seed boxes out over winter. If your seeds are still firm and show no signs of swelling, then you can move your seedbox outdoors to freeze for 2-4 weeks, or you can move your seedbox into a fridge for 8-12 weeks. Then bring the box back to room temperature for 4-8 weeks. If you see no sign of germination, and the seeds are still firm (not rotted and squishy) then you can give them another cold treatment. Keep alternating between cold and warm treatments until germination begins.

Soapwort may or may not need a cold treatment. We find that seed lots differ. If after the first 8 weeks at room temperature you have little or no germination, you can try cold exposure as described for sweet violet.

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