January could not appear to be an apparent time for backyard work within the Northern Hemisphere, however that is really an important time to arrange the seeds of sure vegetation for the spring thaw. Profitable germination in a managed surroundings, like a backyard, requires that seeds undergo circumstances just like what they’d expertise in nature. If a seed would endure a protracted drop in temperature or freezing and thawing circumstances in its pure surroundings, then that seed will profit—and even require—a protracted interval of chilly to be able to efficiently germinate (Hartung, 2011). This course of is known as “chilly stratification.”

What’s Chilly Stratification?

Chilly stratification is a course of that seeds would endure of their pure habitat to weaken the seed casing and promote germination (Cech, 2009). Some seeds want to stay at chilly temperatures for a number of months earlier than they’ll germinate. Different seeds could have to undergo a number of laborious freezes with brief durations of thaw-out in between. Fortunately, you may mimic these chilly climate circumstances from the heat of your cozy kitchen by utilizing your fridge or freezer. 

Chilly dry stratification is for seeds that endure a protracted drop in temperatures, however not essentially a moist and snowy winter of their pure habitat. You’ll be able to imitate this cooler climate by putting seeds together with barely moistened (not soggy) sand, peat moss, or potting soil into plastic baggies (Hartung, 2011). Label and retailer within the fridge for a number of months. The chilly and humid surroundings mimics the chilly damp earth. As soon as the seeds start to sprout, or the designated period of time has handed, you may plant them in trays indoors or instantly within the floor. (If planting outside, verify your average last frost date to verify the specter of frost has handed.) 

Chilly moist stratification is the method to make use of with seeds that undergo alternating durations of freeze and thaw. Recreate these winter circumstances by putting seeds in a plastic zipper bag with a number of drops of water (no sand, soil, or peat moss). Then, place the baggie within the freezer. As soon as a month, take the baggie with the seeds out, place it in your counter in a single day to thaw, after which put it again within the freezer within the morning (Hartung, 2011). Be sure you label the baggie with which seeds are in it so that you simply don’t combine them up if you’re utilizing this methodology on a number of sorts of seeds.

In both moist or dry stratification, the objective is to have a constantly damp, however by no means soggy, surroundings for the seeds. An excessive amount of water and the seeds might mildew. Not sufficient water and the seeds could halt their germination course of. There could also be instances when that you must add extra water or potting soil to the baggies to be able to keep the fitting circumstances all through the method. Often verify the circumstances of the mini-ecosystems contained in the baggies to make sure better success with these seed therapies.

white bowl on table filled with garden soil and seeds for cold stratification

Let’s Discuss Choices, 

Relying on the place you reside and what you’re planting, you could possibly sow your seeds within the fall and permit nature to do all of this be just right for you. That’s if the surroundings of your backyard will present the suitable moist or dry stratification circumstances that match what the plant would undergo in its pure surroundings. 

If the climate in your planting house gained’t mimic the circumstances of the winter within the plant’s pure habitat, then it’s best to take issues into your personal fingers and assist the seeds alongside utilizing the strategies described above. 

The chart under reveals a collection of vegetation that require chilly stratification. The chart reveals whether or not the vegetation listed want moist or dry circumstances throughout this course of.

Plant Title Chilly Moist Stratification Chilly Dry Stratification Size of Stratification
Arnica (Arnica spp.) X 2 months
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) X 21 days
Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)  X 2 weeks
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)  X 2-Four months
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)  X 1 month
Crampbark (Viburnum opulus)  X Three months
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)  X Four weeks
Night Primrose (Oenothera biennis)  X Three months
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)  X X 2-Three months
Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) X 3-Four months
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) X 3-Four weeks
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) X Three months
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis X 3-Four weeks
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) X 1 month
Plantain (Plantago spp.) X 1 week
Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) X Four months
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum spp.) X n/s
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) X 1 month
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)  X 5 months
Vervain (Verbena officinalis X 1 month
Violet (Viola spp.) X Three months
Wooden betony (Betonica officinalis) X 21 days

(Desk compiled from Baskin & Baskin, 2002; Blessman et al., 2001; Davis & Kujawski, 2001; Feitz, 2015; Heirloom Organics, n.d.a-f; Luna et al., 2008; Native Plant Community, n.d.; Schultz et al., 2012)

Cold stratification pinterest graphic


Baskin, J. M., Baskin, & Carol, C. (2002). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of container (plug) Zanthoxylum americanum [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=rutaceae-zanthoxylum-1974

Blessman, G., Flood, R. M., & Horvath, David J. (2001). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of bareroot (area grown) Ceanothus americanus L. [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=rhamnaceae-ceanothus-260

Cech, R. (2009). The medicinal herb grower: A guide for cultivating plants that heal (Vol. 1). Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs LLC.

Davis, Ok. M., & Kujawski, J. (2001). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of propagules (seeds, cuttings, poles, and many others.) Monarda fistulosa [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=lamiaceae-monarda-1073

Feitz, J. (2015). Seed propagation of Ohio native vegetation [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.internet/JoshuaFietz/seed-propagating-ohio-native-plants-46273070

Hartung, T. (2011).  Homegrown herbs: A complete guide to growing, using and enjoying more than 100 herbs. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.a). The best way to develop Astragalus | Information to rising Astragalus [Database]. Retrieved from http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowingastragalus.html

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.b). The best way to develop licorice | Information to rising licorice [Database]. Retrieved http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowinglicorice.html

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.c). The best way to develop marshmallow | Information to rising marshmallow [Database]. http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowingmarshmallow.html

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.d). The best way to develop mullein | Information to rising mullein [Database]. Retrieved from http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowingmullein.html

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.e). The best way to develop plantain | Information to rising plantain [Database]. Retrieved from http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowingplantain.html

Heirloom Organics. (n.d.f). The best way to develop wooden betony | Information to rising wooden betony [Database]. http://www.heirloom-organics.com/information/va/guidetogrowingwoodbetony.html

Luna, T., Evans, J., & Wick, D. (2008). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of container (plug) Valeriana sitchensis [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=valerianaceae-valeriana-176

Native Plant Community (n.d.) Propagation protocols: Arnica [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/propagation/protocols?SearchableText=Arnica&getNPNScientificTitle=&getNPNFamilyScientific=&getNPNStateName=&getNPNProductType=&getNPNOrganizationName=&getNPNCompanyName=&formSubmitted=1

Schultz, J., Beyer, P., & Williams, J. (2002). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of container (plug) Oenothera biennis L. [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=onagraceae-oenothera-2129

Schultz, J., Beyer, P., & Williams, J. (2001). Propagation protocol for manufacturing of container (plug) Viburnum opulus L. [Database]. Retrieved from https://npn.rngr.internet/renderNPNProtocolDetails?selectedProtocolIds=caprifoliaceae-viburnum-1556

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