Starting Aconite Seeds
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Maria Clauser
Posted on: March 13, 2002

Received my wonderful seed order and can’t wait to start planting. I am a little confused with the Aconite (S1010) sowing instructions for indoors. It says to place seeded flat in the fridge for 1-12 months until germination begins? Is this correct? Is there any way we can speed these seeds up? Or... just plant them in the fall.... and be patient? I find that sowing indoors is wonderful for the spirit, especially with our long grey winters...

Aconite (Aconitum napellum) is what is called a ‘cold germinator’. Cold germinators need exposure to cold followed by warm exposure in order to break dormancy and to germinate. The conditions required to break dormancy are different for different species, and are different even for different lots of seeds of the same species. The instructions on the packet are a generalization for a variety of cold germinating herbs that we sell. In most cases there is no precise set of conditions that is proven to be optimal which is why we just give a generalized overview of what is required.

We recommend that you sow the seeds the normal way in a seed box, water, and then enclose the seed box in a plastic bag and keep in a fridge for three months. Then remove the seed box from the fridge and place in your normal seed box area where it will be exposed to normal light and temperatures, and keep watered (but not soggy with water). Then if no germination has occurred within 2-3 months, but the seed box in the fridge for another cycle of 3 months cold followed by 2-3 months warm. Germination will likely start in the first warm period, but you may get more occuring in the second warm period.

If this is too much bother, you can also sow the seed in seed boxes which are left outdoors under a mulch over winter. This way the natural process of freezing and thawing over the fall, winter and spring months breaks the dormancy and germination will occur in the spring.

Also, if Richters didn’t have a 6 plug minimum limit, you probably would generate more sales... I just wanted one plant (plug) and not 6.

To be clear, we have a 6 potted herb minimum. The minimums for plug trays and for plug packs are two. And you may have as many as 6 different varieties in the 6 pot minimum order, and two varieties in the plug pack and tray minimum orders.

The problem with shipping fewer than 6 potted herbs is that the cost of packing and shipping is almost the same for 6 herbs as it is for one. That means that the total cost would be so high that it would seem to be unreasonable. After much research we found that the six pot minimum is the best balance between costs and price.

One more thing. All the variegated plants are sold as plugs and not seeds. Does this mean that the seeds produced from a variegated plant may not resemble the plant it came from?

There are some variegated herbs that do come true to form by seeds (e.g. Harlequin rue), but you are right in thinking that most variegated herbs are only available in plant form. Most of the time variegated herbs are single plant mutations that were found among a population of plants and then multiplied by cutting. It most cases these will not come true from seeds.

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