Germinating Schisandra and Gardenia
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Liliana Stewart
Posted on: April 17, 2002

Some time ago I bought Schisandra and Gardenia jasminoides seeds from you. I tried to germinate them, twice, unsuccessfully. Now, I don’t want to start again, unless you provide me any advice, apart from the one on the package, as I’m afraid I’ll be run out of seeds later. Concerning the other seeds I bought, all of them germinated! (Sweet fennel, anise, menthol mint, foxglove, pepper!!, two types of tomatoes, sweet peas, echinacea: it took its time!, marigold, lavender, musk mallow : beautiful.)

In our catalogue we rate schisandra as difficult to germinate and gardenia as medium difficult. Both are slow to germinate, as many shrubs (and trees) are. Schisandra has a complex dormancy mechanism built into the seeds that delays germination by as much as 1-2 years. Gardenia will germinate sooner, but generally it requires several months at least.

We recommend that schisandra be sown outdoors in a sunken wooden seed flat and covered with a mulch. The mulch is left on until the following spring when it is uncovered to check for germination. If germination has not begun by the end of spring, the mulch is reapplied until the next spring.

Gardenia can be sown in seed boxes like the other herbs you had success with, but allow at least 2-3 months for germination to begin. We have had success germinating gardenia without special treatments, but it may benefit from an alternating cool-warm treatment where the seed box is alternately placed in a refrigerator for 2-3 months and then in room temperature for 2-3 months. If no germination occurs by the end of the first cycle, then the cool/warm cycle is repeated.

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