Growing Daylilies from seed
We constructed a greenhouse on our property about 8 years ago. I wrote an article for the AHS
journal (fall 2008) about this undertaking, not so much from a technical perspective, but rather as a
guide for things to consider in building a greenhouse in a Northern climate. The greenhouse is an
ideal environment for setting pods. I am hybridizing in early spring before it gets too hot and the
humidity and controlled temperatures seem to make the plants very receptive. I also am able to
start selling seeds in June on the auction.
For years I would chill the seeds I harvested for at least 3 weeks—sometimes for months—and then
sow them in oasis trays. As a result of info garnered on the AHS robin, I now do things differently.
We have achieved much better germination rates by moist chilling our seeds for 5-6 weeks in damp
vermiculite. There are many other opinions about how to start seeds and they all likely have some
merit. This is what works best for me. Seeds can vary greatly in appearance and size. The most
important thing is that they be firm. We give al seeds the "squeeze" test. If they are mushy they are
not viable and are discarded.
Seeds in a ripened pod
Pods on a scape-tags show pollen
parent and date the cross was
made. When they are ready for
harvesting they start to fade in
color and will crack open to gentle
They are ready
There are many ways to plant seeds successfully. I believe that seed stating methods in
Southern climates may not always work for those of us in the North,and vice versa. Moist
chilling or statification works well in the North,because of the dormancy factor. From
"In the wild, seed dormancy is usually overcome by the seed spending time in the ground
through a winter period and having its hard seed coat softened up by frost and weathering
action. By doing so the seed is undergoing a natural form of "stratification" or pretreatment.
This cold moist period triggers the seed's embryo, its growth and subsequent expansion
eventually break through the softened seed coat in its search for sun and nutrients."
Moist chilling simulates winter. Below are seeds that have undergone several weeks of
stratification. I add moist vermiculite to the small bags with the seeds. The bags are labeled
Seeds on the left have been chilled
a bit too long-- maybe two months.
They are more difficult to handle
without some damage to the tender
shoots. The ones on the right have
been chilled 4-5 weeks.--just right.
After two months-- a bit too long
38 cell seedling trays
sitting in a tray so they
can be watered from the
Ten days after planting
(after 5 weeks of moist
chilling seeds in fridge)
Rack from Coscto with
adjustable height feature.
You do not need grow
lights-can use one “cool”
and one “warm”
fluorescent bulb per
After two months
They are planted in spring in beds
in a grid that is mapped out in Excel
They are mulched the first winter
with shredded leaves.