According to good ol' Wikipedia, Seed Stratification is: "a process of treating seeds to simulate natural conditions that the seeds must experience before germination can occur." As Zone 3 flower farmers, we want to do everything possible to set up our cut flowers, and therefore our farm, for success!
Certain varieties of cut flower seeds need cold stratification to germinate and flower in the year you're planting them. Pre-treating seeds helps them overcome their winter dormancy — it spurs the seeds into action on a timetable that better suits our seeding schedule! "Cold stratification is the process of subjecting seeds to both cold and moist conditions."
At Horse Hill Flowers this will be our first year stratifying seeds. We're still early in our flower farming endeavours — which means this year is a bit of an experiment. After researching the variaties already purchased we've chosen to cold stratify: Bells of Ireland, Bergamont Monarda, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Larkspur, Phlox, and Sea Holly.
Last growing season we did not have great success with our Sea Holly and we're hopeful cold stratification will result in a greater germination rate!
Instructions for Cold Seed Stratification:
Research which seeds germinate best with cold stratification.
Look at your options for different methods of cold stratification.
Choose a method.
Not sure where to start your research? We've found a few resources for you:
Our Method of Cold Seed Stratification:
Lightly spray a square piece of paper towel with water.
Sprinkle seeds on paper towel.
Fold paper towel over the seeds.
Label your baggie with the stratification date and when you need to seed them.
Place folded paper towel in baggie.
Leave baggie slightly open to prevent molding.
Carefully place in fridge.
Check seeds every few days for molding or signs of germination.