Sweetgrass seed germination
Answered by: Ginny Cotterill
Question from: Lara
Posted on: November 08, 2010

I understand that Sweetgrass seed can be quite difficult to germinate. Any hints as to how I can maximize my chances of success?



Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is one of the Four Sacred Medicines used by the indigenous peoples of North America. Like the other Sacred Medicines, namely Cedar, Tobacco and White Sage, it is valued for its use in smudging and purification.

Growing Sweetgrass from seed is challenging. The seed is of naturally low viability, at about 5%. To complicate things further, germination is inhibited by a hormone called abcistic acid. In order to break this hormone down, the seeds should be stored in the fridge or freezer (temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius) for 4 weeks. Preferably, place the seed in a baggy with slightly damp soilless medium. Then place the baggy in the cold environment. This process duplicates what nature provides for the seed during winter. After the cold treatment, the seed may be sown either directly outside or in a flat in a fairly sunny location. Cover the seed with a thin layer of soil or soilless medium. Tamp and water gently. Keep the seeds damp until germination occurs. Germination should begin after about 2 weeks. Transplant the new seedlings when they are about 2 inches tall into a rich, slightly sandy soil in a sunny site.

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