Saturday, January 19, 2013

Raising Auriculas from Seeds

Raising auriculas from seeds is relatively easy, you just have to keep a few things in mind and have a little patience. 
Seed tray with moist soil.
I collect my seeds when the seed pods have ripened in late summer/autumn. I sow some seed direct and save some for sowing in the following spring. The reason I sow at two different times is an insurance; just in case one lot fails.
I tend to get a better germination from the fresh sowing, but then I must get them through the winter. One winter I had an invasion of mice in the greenhouse; which dug up all the seed trays in search for food and not many of the small seedlings survived. The seeds for the spring sowing, I save in unbleached coffee filters which are put into an airtight box which in turn is placed at the bottom of a fridge.
Sowing seeds.
Which ever time of the year I sow I use the same method. I use the same soil mix as the one I use for growing auriculas in pots but add extra perlite so that it drains better and it also gives a lighter texture to the soil.
I place the soil in small seed trays or pots, depending on how many seeds I am going to sow. I lightly moisten the soil and then spread a thin sowing of seeds on top. I then cover the seeds very lightly with vermiculite and spray a little water on top, just too lightly moisten them. I do not cover the trays or pots.
Covering of vermiculite.
The trays or pots are then placed in a cool semi shady place in a cold frame or greenhouse. Keep them at a temperature of around 10C to 15C, any higher than 20C can result in the seeds going into dormancy and then they will require a cold period before they will geminate.
If they dry out and need watering, place the tray or pot in a larger tray and water from under (pour water in the larger tray not in the tray/pot with the soil & seeds).
Lightly spray to moisten.
The first seedlings can start to appear after 14 to 21 days but it can take a lot longer, 28 days is normal but it can take months for some seeds. (I’ve had some germinate after 6 months.) So do not be too quick to throw away a seed sowing as a failure, you never know, they may still start to germinate.
When the seedlings are big enough to handle, prick them out and plant them into small pots.
Hopefully after two or three years they should come into bloom.

You never really know what will come from the seeds that you have sown (especially if they have been open-pollinated) and its always exciting to see the first blooms appear.
Important to label with date & seed details.
Small seedlings pushing through.
  One thing I should mention is that auriculas do not come true from seeds. Any seed taken from a named cultivar will be different from the original auricula, in some cases they may appear to look very similar to the original but they are not identical to the original. I.e. seedlings sown from seeds which have been collected from an Ancient Society, can not be called (given the name) Ancient Society.
To have an auricula identical to the named cultivar and which can carry the same name, you must propagate by division. This I will cover next week.
Small seedlings at around 28 days.
 There have been experiments in cloning auriculas and I have heard various reports that the results are very mixed when propagating by this method. I have no experience on cloning auriculas; if any members have any experience of cloned auriculas and would like to share their information with other members, please let me know.
Next week I will be writing about propagating auriculas by division.