Sasha
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:17 am
Location: Edmonton, Canada

I froze my seeds

I collected some wild seed a couple weeks ago and then popped them into the freezer, thinking that would be a good place to store them. They're all southern Boreal species, and should be able to handle freezing temperatures, and I thought this might be a good way to start the stratification process.

Then I did some reading and realised that some of them require a warm period followed by a cold period followed by another warm period, which is bad news as I've already thrown them into a "cold period". Also, they're currently just stored in envelopes: no sand, soil or water. Now I'm wondering whether they'll think it's "spring" when I take them out of the freezer and add sand/water to them. How badly did I screw this up? Should I just leave them there until I'm ready to start germinating them, or take them out and follow the specific germination instructions for each species? Would it still be okay to sow some of these seeds in my garden before winter (temperatures outside are still significantly warmer than in my freezer, thankfully), or will the increase in temperature spur them to germinate in late fall?

BostonianChick
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Location: Quincy Mass

Hey sasha!

This is a bit of a difficult situation! I would suggest leaving them in, taking them in and out of the freezer more then the reccomended amount even if you forgot to do something can cause damage to the seeds. They get adapted to and enviorment and if you change that too much it will cause them to die.

So i would leave them in the freezer until you are ready to take them out for their warm period and then just plant them in the soil. This should cause too much harm to the plant just try to keep it in a cold soil so that way when it warms up it was liek it was int he soild the whole time. so when you are ready and you go out and buy the soil and pots put the soil in the pots and freeze those then take them out a little before you take the seeds out so that way you can make a hole int he soil. then put the seed in it and cover it and they will both defrost around the same time.

I hope this helps!

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Boomslang
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Sasha, I'm glad you asked about freezing seeds. I put all my zinnia and sunflower seeds in the freezer recently. I was kinda wondering the same thing you were. :)

Sasha
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:17 am
Location: Edmonton, Canada

Thanks Bostonian chick! I think I'll leave them where they are, and hope for the best.

Apparently a lot of seeds can be frozen and it won't hurt their viability. I just wonder how I'm affecting them in terms of breaking dormancy. Boomslang, if your seeds are commercial I imagine they would be pre-processed as necessary to break dormancy, and unless they're very tender warm-climate species they will hopefully be okay.

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rainbowgardener
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Freezing seeds isn't the same as cold stratifying them. I freeze all my annual seeds for preservation and then just bring them out in the spring and plant them.

For the wildflower perennial seeds that need to go through various warm cold cycles, with cold stratification, freezing isn't part of that. Cold stratification involves planting the seed (usually in moist potting soil) and then chilling the soil and seeds. Dry freezing doesn't count.
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Sasha
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:17 am
Location: Edmonton, Canada

Okay, so I should be able to take the seeds out of the freezer in late winter, mix them with sand/soil/water as recommended, and re-chill them to start the process of breaking dormancy?

tomc
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Sasha wrote:Okay, so I should be able to take the seeds out of the freezer in late winter, mix them with sand/soil/water as recommended, and re-chill them to start the process of breaking dormancy?
Yes you can. On the less good news front (for me) woody plant seed never ever germinate at as good a rate as if left in a moist medium and stored in a cold frame or just plain outdoors.
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