rhododendron seed starting

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Sadauskas
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-28
rhododendron seed starting

hello all,

just received my seeds :o and was looking for some seed starting basics on rhododendron kinsai x showa-no-homare and r. shiryu-no homane x mine-no-hoshi(hope I got all that right). I am quite unfamiliar with rhododendrons, but wanted to give some a try. I read something about spahgnum medium, and just wondered if any rhododendron growers might want to chime in?

thanks
michele

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I hybridize rhodies so know all about sowing them.  Here is my technique...others may differ!  I use peatmoss (horticultural grade) that has been sterilized.  I fill the pots, water and let drain for a while.  I then surface sow the seeds and place syran wrap over the pot surface, held in place with an elastic band.  I then place the pot under flourescent lights (or a bright window shaded from direct sun) then wait.  The seeds normally sprout in about 2-3 weeks.  I leave the plastic in place for another 3-4 weeks before I remove it.  In about 2-3 months, the seedlings will be large enough to prick out (wait until about 2-3 true leaves have formed)

Good-luck!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Todd's method is essentially the same as what I have done.  I too, used pasteurized peat, surface sow and enclosed pot and all in a clear plastic bag, set on the north sided of my house in open shade.  The warm cozy inside temperature that he uses is certainly a plus.  Seedlings grow slowly in my experience.  Now if I could just keep the chipmunks away . . .

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Todd is a great Rhodo man, I know, and he and Rick are living in North America so their methods are surely pertinent.
Michele mentions the sphagnum method and I thought you might like to see a couple of old articles from the SRGC journal on the subject?
I have made pdf files, very rough and ready, but  readable I hope, of these... the first by the late Alec Duguid, (the man who did great things  as manager at Edrom Nursery in the Scottish/ English border country) from the SRGC Journal #72 of June 1983  and the second, a response to that article, detailing the method that Ian and I used, from the "Rock Garden" #90 of January 1992 .

At that time we were sowing in the moss alone but nowadays we would use a layer of sphagnum moss over a compost mix rich in leaf mould for ericaceous subjects.

Hope these "blast from the past" items are of interest!

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Sadauskas
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-28

It was nice to open up the forum and see what tidbits of info I received :)  Thank you everyone for your input.  Todd, I will add my rhodo seeds into my line-up of containers. I set my pots up exactly as you describe...just will do the peatmoss instead of my normal mix.  Thank you to RickR and Iam too.  Looking forward to the nargs forum to be as wonderful as the srgc forum ;D

Rimmer
Rimmer's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-02-05

Maggie your post from the SRGC was wonderful to read.
I have been using sphagnum as a mulch when starting cuttings of rhododendron (Ledum) and Daphnes with great results

Rimmer

Rimmer de Vries
SE Michigan, USDA Zone 5b

Gene Mirro
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-25

I have two lots of R. occidentale, one of which I collected myself, so I know the seed was fresh.  Both have been sown for two months now, with no sign of germination.  Aren't these plants supposed to be "immediate" germinators at room temperature?  I am an experienced grower, so I'm pretty sure I haven't done anything boneheaded. 

SW Washington state, 600 ft. altitude

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Gene, rhodo seeds should germiate within 2 weeks.  The key is surface sow and keep at 100% humidity.  I cover my pots with saran wrap until I see the first true leaf emerge.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Gene Mirro
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-25

I tried another batch, and they came up like grass.  They definitely need to be surface-sown.

SW Washington state, 600 ft. altitude

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

I'm pleased the old info proved interesting. :D

We always reckon that the finer the seed (and rhodo seed is pretty dustlike) the shallower it should be sown, so the surface sowing is perfect and, as Gene has shown, works a treat.  :D

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Moyles
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-12-23

Just an additional note:  I think we all germinate rh seed in pretty much the same way: surface sown on milled sphagnum covered under lights with germination generally in 30 days or less. If one is interested I have a paper in which I detail my approach  (A Vireya Seed Ody ......... etc) that is viewable in the archives of Callard's site: Vireya.net.  All ericaceous seed are easily germinated in this way. In any case Vireya.net is worth the trip!  A marvelous site. 

Bill Moyles
Oakland, California

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