Daylily Seeds, Soil Prep and Planting

One group of seedlings, plants have been trimmed
from their original height of 18-24 inches

photo 2012

There are many different methods for starting seeds. It's an individual thing as most learn what is best for them. Various weather, zones, and elevation play a role in what works best for each. I will relate my process for you to try if you so choose.
Seeds are ready to harvest 30 to 45 days from the time they begin to form pods depending on the daylily or environmental conditions. 

Watch them daily during 
this period. When the pods begin to turn tan or brown, then crack open at the top, they are ready to harvest, or you can gently squeeze the pod, and if the pod separates, the seeds are ready. Mature seeds are shiny and black. Immature seeds are white. Judge maturity more by the pod characteristics rather than the color of the seeds to be sure. If you are going to be away, and the pod might open during that time, you can tie a piece of panty hose
or something similar around the pod, and secure it with a twisty tie.
---Daylily Seed Pods Maturing---
Pods 40 days old, photo taken 2013

The pod in the bottom right-hand
corner is beginning to crack open.
I will harvest it tomorrow.

Drying Daylily Seeds

      I take the seeds, along with their label, 
into an air-conditioned room, usually the kitchen, 
and lay them on the counter top to dry for a couple of 
days. Large seeds may require three plus days.

   After the drying period, the seeds are ready 
to prep for cold storage in the fridge's bottom
 crisper drawer at 39-40 degrees.  The seeds 
stay in the fridge for 2 weeks before planting, 
or longer if planting 
is delayed for some reason. Seeds may be viable 
for a year or longer when kept in cold storage. 
I have planted seeds directly without cold 
storage, but have found that some seeds do have 
a higher germination rate if stratified. 

Daylily Seeds Drying 2015

Purchased these little cups for drying seeds.
Works great!
---Daylily Seeds Drying---
Photo 2013

Prepping Daylily Seeds for Cold Storage

 Mix a 10 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide 
and distilled or boiled water in a cup. Tear a paper  
towel into 4 inch squares, then fold again until the 
squares measure about an inch. Moisten,
 not dripping wet, the square of paper towel with 
 the hydrogen peroxide solution.

Daylily seedlings--A closer look, 2012

Place the seeds into the tiny plastic bags that are 
approximately 2x3 inches long. Put the 
moistened piece of paper towel near the top 
of the plastic bag so it does not directly touch the 
seeds. I don't want the seeds suspended in
liquid, just in a higher humidity environment 
inside the bag. When removing seeds from the bag 
to check for softness, always clean your hands and
 any tools you use to avoid introducing bacteria. 
I use diluted bleach. Wearing gloves helps save 
sensitive skin. I attach the ID labels to the plastic
 bag with a small paper clip that you pinch to open.

Another group of seedlings. Seeds this year matured
about a month earlier than usual. Since it appears that 
spring may not be so forthcoming, I hope the seedlings 
can remain inside the house until conditions are 
suitable for planting outside in the seedlings beds. 
Photo 2012.

The 2x3 in. plastic bags are then placed into a larger 
plastic bag and dated. This is mostly to organize the 
seedlings, and gives me an idea of when 
germination is likely to take place. The seeds will 
begin to germinate in 7-10 days usually. If you wish 
to delay planting, seeds can be placed in 
the plastic bags dry, as the dry method will 
delay sprouting.

---Daylily Seeds Ready for Refrigeration---
Photo 2013

Prepping the Pots and Soil 

When one seed in the bag germinates, I plant 
all the seeds from that bag. 24-oz. cottage cheese 
container makes a good pot for seedlings, but anything 
tall enough for the roots to grow to a good length will 
suffice. Put several holes in the bottom of the pots for 
good drainage, and also put a hole in the rim or just
beneath the rim of the pot to tie on the label. Always  
keep the label with the seeds as they move through 
the process to avoid a mix up. I add the date to the 
label when the first seed germinates as well as the
number of seeds added to the pot. This makes it 
easier to quickly know the percentage of 
germination you get from your crosses if that is an 
important factor. Also, make sure everything is
as clean as can be. Oh, and use a Painter's Pen for 
labeling. It will last as long as you need for the 
seedling process. I also use it on the permanent ID
tags in the garden.

Fill the pots with potting soil, dampened, and 
place in the microwave until the soil steams. This 
kills the fungus gnats, other critters, and bacteria. 
The cottage cheese containers do not slightly 
melt like the plastic cups, although I use and  
reuse both depending on whether I run out of the  
preferred container and have to resort 
to the plastic cups. Another thing I like about 
the cottage cheese containers is that they do not 
tip over easily as do other types.
We can reuse the cottage cheese cups for 2 to 3 
years before they begin to deteriorate. Of course, 
the cups are washed in soapy water, rinsed, and  
then placed in a bleach bath before reuse.  

Since microwaves have different settings and 
wattage, you will need to judge the time accordingly. 
When I see the soil steaming on the first pot, I note 
the time that has elapsed, and use that as a baseline
for the rest. I microwave one pot at a time.  Remove 
the pot from the microwave and run cold water 
through the soil until the soil is warm. The seeds will 
sprout faster and grow faster in a warm medium.

We generally use a type of moisture-control-potting 
soil in the 3 cu. ft. bags. Sometimes we choose other 
types depending on the look and feel of the soil. 
Preference is for soil that does not have large pieces, 
yet drains well. Sometimes the potting soil
contains fertilizer, but this is not a necessity. I prefer 
to choose when to add fertilizer when the plants show 
a need for it. This can be judged by the color of the 
seedling. The plants should be grass green, 
not pale green.

Planting the Daylily Seeds

Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch beneath the 
top of the soil. Don't plant too deeply. Gently 
water the planted seeds to remove air spaces. Then 
I place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of
the cup. A rubber band holds the plastic wrap in place. 
They are then ready to go to a south facing window or 
double door where they will stay for the winter. I 
don't use grow lights because the double doors are  
sufficient lighting for growth. I don't have to be 
concerned if the seeds are getting enough water with 
the plastic wrap covering, but when the tiny plants 
emerge from the soil, I take off the covering, 
and water as necessary with warm water. 

Fertilizing Daylily Seedlings

When the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, I fertilize 
them with a diluted solution of 24-8-16 fertilizer. 
Some potting soils do not have much in the way of  nutrients in them. 
I don't fertilize on a schedule.

Seedlings planted on 9-22-2012

As you can see from this photo, the pots that 
have been uncovered have seeds that
have germinated and the green shoots
have emerged. Water will be added as 
needed. Also, you can see from this
photo, the planting has just
begun. With more germinating plants,
a make-shift frame had to be
constructed to hold more. See
the first photo above for photo
of the frame. The plants are
loving it.

So there you have it. Now it is a matter of 
watching the plants grow, and adding water 
and fertilize as needed. The plants will let me 
know when either is required. I have tried 
various methods in the past, but this method 
works for me. The best trays for holding the 
pots for drainage are the boot trays from Lowes. 
Just perfect. 
In a pinch, I have cut the scapes with pods 
attached, and brought them inside, and placed
 them in a vase of water. They will mature this
way as well as long as they not too immature to 
begin with. Or if a pod falls off, the pod can be
brought inside unopened and left to mature. 
I have done this and when planted, the seeds 
sprouted, but the pod was almost mature.
And the shelving frame just keeps getting 

Update: I used the dry method for the
seeds gathered in 2014. All the above 
steps were the same except for placing
the seeds in baggies without moisture
added. After the refrigeration period,
seeds were planted, and germination 
was excellent. The seedlings are currently
growing very well. This change reduced
the time required to prepare seeds.

However, we did lose a few plants due to 
mold. Perhaps the humidity in the room was
too high, or some other reason or maybe 
 due to this change in procedure.

Update: Mixing a 10% bleach/water
solution in a spray bottle and spraying
the top of the potting soil eliminated the
mold problem.       
Also, more fertilize was used on the 
seedlings to see how the foliage and
roots would respond. The foliage is 
healthy, and when the seedlings are
removed from the pots to plant in the 
garden, we can evaluate the 
root systems. 

If there is no improvement with
 additional fertilizing, then it is back to 
letting the plants let us know when to fertilize
Sometimes with these plants, 
experimentation is a worthwhile  
component of the agenda.        

Update:   When we divided the seedlings 
out of the pots for planting in the garden, the
root systems showed no distinguishing 
characteristics from the use of additional 
fertilize used during the winter inside. So, we
can refrain from using more fertilize 
thus saving the added time and 
However, adding fertilize a few days after 
planting the seedlings in the garden is 
promoting more rapid growth as the 
plants acclimate to their 
new environment.  

Update:   For 2017, we placed the potting 
soil in the pots, and poured in
boiling water to sterilize the soil. 
We continued with more pots as the earlier 
ones cooled. This was far less time 
consuming than previous procedures. Once 
cooled, the seeds were planted. Germination 
occurred within 3 days to a week. The plants 
are growing very well with no problems so far. 
No fungus gnats, no spider mites, and only a few
pots with mold which is eliminated with a 
 spray of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. If 
all goes well for the rest of the winter, this is 
the method we will continue to use in the 
future, until I begin to experiment with
something else, that is.💜

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