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30/10/2013 at 22:20

Can never get Verbena boriensis to grow - I just buy them as plugs.  

Yellow rattle can be difficult to get going.  It needs really short grass, some uncovered soil and stratification (cold spell then warmth) to germinate and grow.  It's a really interesting native wildflower.  It gets most of its food from grass roots so its unlike almost every other plant - they produce their food by photosynthesis alone.  

Yellow rattle gets its name from the seed pods that rattle with seeds.

31/10/2013 at 11:35


funny you mention the verbena bonariensis, I sowed them for the first time this year. I didn't get a good germination rate and gave up with them. they did germinate though and I ended up with about 40 plants but very late, I'm over wintering them. I wouldn't grow them as annuals like that. There could have been a thousand seeds though.

I was going to suggest something like Carpinus betulus. I've only tried to grow them once but got none germinate while I've stratified other trees and got great germination. I think it might be the supplier but I don't have the data to back that up. Other things I bought from them I got almost 100% germination.

31/10/2013 at 11:48

Interesting that you didn't germinate Carpinus betulus Jim. Of all the trees around this garden, that is the one that has never given us babies.


31/10/2013 at 12:35

The question is, why should any seed be hard to germinate? After all the plant is trying to preserve its genes and producing a seed which will not grow is counter-productive. surely?

The difficulty lies with us, not the seed. Lots of reason why that might be though. Non-viable seed is the most frequent. Some plants just cannot produce a viable seed under condtions in Britain. I have one plant which only produces seed which will grow only after a very very hot Summer.  Lack of suitable pollinators is another.

Some seeds have a very short life span, Hepatica, Anemone, Salix and such like.

Others need sowing conditions which are hard to provide. For example they need the germination inhibitors removed by the passage of the seed through an animals digestive system.

There are lots of other factors which some into play too.

31/10/2013 at 14:20

Berghill, that's exactly my thought too.. I'm so fussy, and still haven't deiced what to write about, I just wanted someone to say "do this" lol. I hate none strcutred things. 

I guess all seeds are easy to germinaite if we know them. 

31/10/2013 at 14:56

That's the trouble with asking us, the forum. We all have different experiences, then we go off on a discussion of why what happened when. We forget all about the original question.

I think you could pick any of the species mentioned. It's likely that the discussion here will go on for some time and even more possibilities will appear

31/10/2013 at 16:34

I have found white forget-me-nots unusually hard to germinate. I would like to know why when the blue ones proliferate like crazy. I've even complained to the one & only seed company that will sell packets of white-only forget-me-nots, (2 years ago). They replaced the seeds and I then had moderate success. I had more luck this year and today I have planted out the grown-on plants while taking out the majority of the hundreds of blue ones from borders. I do wish garden centres/nurseries would sell white-only forget-me-nots plugs. It would make life so much easier than having potted-on plants hanging around awaiting the autumn border clear-out before planting along with spring bulbs.

31/10/2013 at 17:37

The one thing I did not go into is the question of germiantion inhibitors. These are present in the seed and are there to keep the seed alive and dormant until the optimmum time for germination. Some of them need cold to break them down, some need moisture and some just need time. Some need a combination or all or some of these.


31/10/2013 at 17:39


nutcutlet wrote (see)

That's the trouble with asking us, the forum. We all have different experiences, then we go off on a discussion of why what happened when. We forget all about the original question.

I think you could pick any of the species mentioned. It's likely that the discussion here will go on for some time and even more possibilities will appear

I agree nut, it is essentially hijacking the thread and unfair on the original poster. Having said that it would be a dull place if we all stuck rigidly to rules. 

I'm told if you collect the seeds from Hornbeam while stil green they'll germinate the following spring but I've never tried it. Certainly works from Cowslips. 

A nice story about seeds needing odd conditions to grow. The Tambalacoque of Mauritius. It was almost extinct. Nobody knew why there were no young trees, non younger than 200 years or so. It was a guy called Stanley Temple thought it was perhaps because it had been eaten by Dodo so fed some seeds to a Turkey. When the seeds reappeared from the other end they were planted and amazingly, grew. Thanks to him the future of the Tambalacoque is secured. And another good suggesting for Ecco14


31/10/2013 at 17:43

I had some seeds which the advice given was to soak them for a few minutes in mlld sulphuric  acid to emulate the digestive process. I did not bother sowing them.

31/10/2013 at 19:11

Jim, re the hornbeams, what do they do naturally? Mine don't drop off green. Am I missing some part of the cycle?

I think I'll be leaving out the sulphuric acid Berhill. 

31/10/2013 at 21:17

My verbena bonariensis seed into my gravel paths without any help from me, which may be a clue as to how to germinate them.

Parsley can be difficult to germinate... they do say that if your parsley germinates easily you are unlucky in love... and vice versa..

31/10/2013 at 22:05

If there's anything you can't germinate just sling it at a gravel path WW.

I'm always banging on about leaving seeds outside over winter. But it works.

31/10/2013 at 22:20

I get loads of really good agapanthus by the same method... benign neglect is often best...

01/11/2013 at 09:23

I forgot to mention that some seeds need their outer coating damaged before water can get in. That is one reason why sowing on a gravel  path often works. Rain rubs the seed against the gravel and abrades the coating.


01/11/2013 at 11:27


Nut, you're so right about the gravel. I use a heavy sand and grit mixed with a little peat free compost for seeds topped with grit, it works so much better than anything else and I made a gravel bed for the base of my dry stone wall, it's been a great seed bed for the wall flowers.

Re the hornbeam, I don't know what they do naturally but if you think the tree really only needs to get one seed to germinate and grow to fruiting size to do its job. Squirrels, magpies and jays probably do the job for them though. I've had Alders come up in pots and I have no Alders that I've seen around my house.

01/11/2013 at 14:02

Thanks Berg. and Jim... now makes sense....I must spend more time jumping up and down,,,

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