Difficult germination of Wintergreen
Answered by: Ginny Cotterill
Question from: Greg
Posted on: February 21, 2011

I purchased some "Very Berry" Wintergreen a few years ago and got no germination. I followed the directions but still did not get any germination. Could you tell me if there are any tricks of the trade that would get me at least some germination? Would the remainder of that seed (4 years old) be worth trying to germinate or would I be better off getting new seed?

Also, I am going get some other seed from Richters that are labeled as moderate to difficult to germinate: Seabuckthorn, Santolina, Roseroot, Licorice etc. Can you recommend any good books or sources that would be a benefit. Any help along with these questions would be greatly appreciated.

It does take some patience when working with Very Berry Wintergreen (Gaulthier procumbens ‘Very Berry’) seeds. They must be stratified for about 8 weeks to break dormancy. Sow the seeds into a tray containing a peat based soil-less medium and cover with vermiculite in a fine layer, just enough to cover the seeds. Then water well but gently. Place the tray in to a plastic bag, and then the refrigerator for 8 weeks. After this period, remove the tray and place it preferably on a heated bed of 20-21 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a heated bed, at minimum, you will require these same room temperatures in the area that you place them, for best results. It will take as long as 1-2 months for the seeds to germinate. It is essential that the medium be kept damp, especially as the seedlings emerge. They are susceptible to drying up and dying without sufficient moisture. I am fairly confident that if your 4 year old seeds were stored in a cool, dark place, they will germinate. If you kept them at room temperature, the chances will drop as the embryo and endosperm may have dried up.

As far as some of your other seed purchases from Richter’s, Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus) and Roseroot (Rhodiola rosea) require only direct seeding, and no further special treatment, although Licorice can benefit by scarification before seeding, and Roseroot requires patience as it is quite slow-growing. Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) will require stratification as well, for 8-12 weeks.

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