Lousy germination

I have heard that others are having poor germination this year as well. Went thru the usual routine of stratifying, etc. that we have done every year, and planted about 400 seeds in 2 trays about the end of Feb. One tray has about a 10% germination, the other just one seed had germinated! I was contemplating putting the trays back in the fridge for a week or so and see what happens when I take them out. If nothing then, will just let them dry out and mess with them in the fall.

Mitchie has even a lousier report! She has about the same number of seeds planted in 2 trays in mid-March. She has only one seed that has germinated out of the whole bunch.

Anyone else have such lousy results? thoughts, comments?



I have seen an overall drop in the number of actual seedlings, but I blame this on having made a large number of tricky crosses using unproven parents. Some of these failed to produce ANY seedlings, although there were hundreds of seeds. I’m not surprised; some were long shots. On the other hand, some of my “usual suspects” that I count on for good seed production and high germination rates performed as always: loads of seedlings.

I would say, however, that germination took about 2 or 3 weeks longer to reach its peak compared to previous years. I wonder if this has something to do with our very late, wet Spring last year.Perhaps seeds did not mature quite right?



Most of the crosses were using parents that we had used before - a few new “tricky” ones. Those would be a bonus if the seeds did germinate, but it’s fun to give it a try anyway. Yes, the seeds may not have matured right, but they were on the bush a good 120 days. I spose seed maturity and germination goes in cycles like everything else - the weather, sun spots, etc.


We just planted our seeds. Didn’t have more than 50 to begin with but of those 5 had germinated in the fridge and looked pretty eager to start to grow.

Hope the others will follow their example and germinate too. They were such nice fat seeds that they showed a lot of promise, but only time will tell.



It might be noteworthy that 2/3 of our Apple trees have ZERO blooms on them this Spring as well. One of these, the Arkansas Black has not missed a year in at least 15 years. Go figure.

I actually had better germination this year than last year. But last years germination was horrible, so it only could have gotten better. The better germination this year most likely is because I used better seed parents and because I gave the seeds a longer warm stratification period than last year. I had twice as many seeds but ten times as many seedlings, so the germination rate was five times better than last year.

My germinations were different this year. Things were slower getting started, never really had a flush of seedlings, and there are still a few popping up. I have also noticed that the pollen parent is definitely influencing germination this year.

I find that the choice of pollen parent always influences both germination rate and how fast the cross germinates. Case in point: I have used ‘Rosy Purple’ in breeding for several years and its seeds germinate like the proverbial weed. I made several crosses using it again in '08, including a couple hundred pollinations with ‘Violette’. The ‘Violette’ cross germinated two weeks later than the other ‘Rosy Purple’ crosses and at a rate of about 5%, as opposed to the usual 80%.

I really noticed that this year also. Folksinger x 1T20 (one of David


Sometimes its that one or two seedlings that turn out to be the most worthwhile. I seem to recall that when Ralph Moore made the cross of ‘Little Chief’ X ‘Violette’ he obtained only half a dozen seedlings or so. One became ‘Sweet Chariot’ and another became ‘Vineyard Song’, two very unique and valued modern shrubs. Without ‘Sweet Chariot’ we would not have ‘Midnight Blue’ and ‘Ebb Tide’!

I only had 1225 seeds this year, compared with 4114 last year. Germination was mixed and depended on the cross, as usual. Overall germination is 32% so far, compared with 27% last year. The cross with the highest germination is

Ebb Tide X (Schoener’s Nutkana X Coral Dawn)

at 78%. A number of crosses had 0% germination, but most of them were from parents of known low fertility. The seeds stopped germinating and I put them back in the fridge about 6 weeks ago. I’ll get more germinations when I take them back out in a couple of weeks.

I had some op seeds from Lafter that I just placed on top of an old flat. The 4" x 6" flat had some rose seeds that never germinated and had been stored in the shed over 2 winters with temps of colder than -30 degrees. So I placed the Lafter seeds on top of the old dirt and put a layer of promix on top. They were brought in the house and placed on top of the refrigerator. Within 5 days I had over 15 germinations but only on half of the flat. That didn’t make sense, until I realized that 2 years ago I had planted 1/2 the flat with one rose and 1/2 with another. So it’s the 2 year old seeds that have come up and I don’t know what they are. A lesson learned from being lazy.

This years seed only one germination from an op Prairie Sunset.

I did not get any seeds until late February, (and then only from Joycie and Incantation) something that never happened to me when I first took up hybirdizing. By then it is starting to get warm here. I tried refrigerating them for a while, first in the regular refrigerator, then in a warmer wine refrigerator. I planted them in two big pots of vermiculite which always worked for me before and placed them outside. Then I discovered that the neighborhood cats adopted the pots as cat boxes. They must have adopted some fairly acrobatic perches – in any event, in spite of all the prime fertilizer I have had no germinations. I just harvested another batch of seeds which I will put in much smaller pots. I can’t figure out why my roses insist on setting seed out of season. I am hoping that my daughter has more luck in Alexandria, although she lost a lot of plants over the winter when she had an extended illness and was unable to care for her plants.

I recommend enzymes and then red light.