I'm not entirely sure what draws me to these flowers, such an enigma. Maybe it’s because they blur the lines between flower or foliage are incredibly versatile and just a little bit eccentric. With their tall lush green stems, unusual cup shaped flowers which resemble 'bells' or their surprisingly sweet scent - Bells of Ireland I just knew I had to grow them in my own garden.
But I was so frustrated by the incredibly conflicting advice on Google (need darkness, wait no they need light, need to be chilled etc), so I delved deep into my own very un-scientific experiment on how to get these little brown triangle’d shaped seeds to grow.
I trialed all the following environments to see which one proofed to be the best germination method
- Light vs dark
- Chilled vs not chilled in packet (dry)
- Chilled in damp kitchen roll vs not chilled (handy towel for you kiwi’s)
- Soaking the seeds prior to planting vs not soaked
- Length of time chilled for…I even tried giving them a bedtime cuddle and cup of Yorkshire tea (jokes).
Ok that sounds really complicated. However in my small backyard experiment they was one very stand winner with 90% germination success.
🌱🌱Chilled for 6 weeks (in the fridge), still in their packet (dry), soaked for 12 hours (in BioAg Ful-Humix solution) and lightly covered, after sowing I place them on a heat mat 🌱🌱. I did conduct this experiment July-August (New Zealand winter).
Courtesy of this experiment I now have 50+ Bell of Ireland seedlings - which of course I'm super stoked with.
I must add Bells of Ireland germinate a bit erratic I still have seedlings popping up in the trays I sowed over 6 weeks ago from my initial experiment of light requirements for germination.
Ok for those for those who like a little bit more nitty gritty I'll now to delve deeper into it:
Light vs dark for germination - I found this had little effect. Surface sown/lightly sown/3mm deep all germinated. I just prefer the lightly covered. The surface sown I had to coax the roots into the surface and seemed a bit leggy, the deeper 3mm sown looked a bit pale. Lightly covered seemed to be the happy medium with nice strong stems.
Damp vs Dry - I was surprise to see the seeds I just left in the packet germinated a lot better compared to those placed in damp kitchen roll (honestly this surprised me!)
Seeds in the freezer - All had a poor germination rate - I wouldn’t recommend. This was for seeds either left in the packet (dry) or in damp kitchen roll.
Time - I placed some seeds in the fridge 6 weeks ago - 90% germination success compared to those 2 weeks ago 55% germination.
Soaking - Soaking seeds can help aid germination (similar to Sweet Peas). Having recently discovered the wonders of BioAg Ful-Humix I soaked half the seeds for 12 hours in a solution of this.
If you’ve got this far - thanks for reading!
The most important thing to take away from this is it was just my own exploration and experiment, and conducted very off the wall. This is not the written rules, however I know in the future this is the method I'll choose to follow to get my Bells of Ireland germinating. Next year I will purposely leave some of my Bells of Ireland to set seed and follow a natural life cycle (although having the will power to resist picking them all will be another thing!), and seeing how well they naturally self seed. I’m always open and curious to hearing about your success and wins! *Edit to add* I left a few of BoI to set seed, and eventually had numerous self sowed seedlings pop up - Woohoo!
Next up I'll be talking about germinating some of our perennials, especially some of those tricky ones such as Verbena pink spires and Verbena white spires (Verbena hastata) Geum Prairie Beard (Geum triflorum) Astrantia - Greater Masterwort and Sea Holly just to name a few.