Germinating the seeds
The seeds sprout best if kept at room temperature for 6 weeks, followed by 3 months in the refrigerator, to simulate the passing of winter. The tips below explain the process.
First, sterilize the seeds by soaking for 10 minutes in a mix of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water; rinse well after. Next fill a zip-lock bag with a pre-moistened mix of sterilized, well-draining soil (2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse sand, for example). Place the seeds inside and cover them with soil.
Place the bag in a dim location at room temperature (60-75°F / 15-24°C), with the bag slightly open for ventilation. Keep the bag there for 6 weeks, watering whenever necessary to keep the soil moist (but not soggy).
After 6 weeks, seal the bag, label it, and put it in the refrigerator. Ensure that the seeds do not freeze (inside the door is usually the warmest place). Check on them periodically to make sure the soil doesn't dry out.
After 3 months (mark your calendar), remove the seeds from the bag and plant them 3/8 inch deep (1 cm) in individual pots at least 3 inches tall (7 cm). Water the soil until evenly moist, and put them in a bright spot that is about 65-74 degrees (18-23°C). Avoid letting them get warmer than 77 degrees F (25°C) for prolonged periods. I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots. Ensure that the soil surface stays moist.
The germination time can vary. Some seeds may sprout a month after removing them from the refrigerator, while others may take 2 to 3 months. The germination rate is usually at least 75% by 3 months. (If any don't sprout after 5 months, try putting them in the refrigerator again for 3 months, checking up on them every few weeks to see if any have sprouted.)
Once they sprout, give them filtered light. Shade them from strong sun. If your potting soil contains nutrients (check the package) your seedlings shouldn't need feeding the first 4 weeks. Feed with some slow-release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer about every 3 months the first year, and every 2 months after that.
When your seedlings are as tall as their pot, replant them gently into larger pots. Water the soil first, to prevent the soil ball from breaking apart, which can damage the roots. Tips on growing older plants are here.
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