Alstroemeria isabellana - Germinating the seeds

Alstroemeria isabellana


Germinating the seeds

These seeds sprout best if placed in the refrigerator for 4 weeks, after an initial 3 weeks at room temperature. This is to trick the seeds into thinking winter has passed. The tips below explain the process.

 First, soak the seeds in a cup of water for 24 hours.

 Put the seeds in a small ziplock bag or a cup with a small amount of soil - about 1/4 cup (100 mL).  Dark-colored soil is best, because it will make it easier to find and remove the tan seeds from the soil later.  Stir the seeds & soil together, then water it until it is evenly moist (but not soggy).  Leave the bag open.

For the next 3 weeks, ensure that the soil stays moist.  Keep the seeds between about 68 and 78F (20-26C).  I recommend placing a thermometer near the seeds, especially if using a heating mat.

 After 3 weeks, zip up the bag (if you used a cup, enclose it in an airtight container or bag) and place it in the refrigerator.  Make sure the temperature stays above 35F (2C).

 After 4 weeks (mark your calendar) remove the bag from the refrigerator and pick the seeds out from the soil.  Plant 1 or 2 seeds per small pot, about 3 inches tall (8 cm).  For soil, use a mix of about 2 parts potting soil to 2 part perlite or coarse sand.  Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep (6 mm) and water the soil until evenly moist.  Put the pots in an area that stays between 65 and 75F (18-24C).

 Germination occurs over a long period, beginning 1 month from removing them from the refrigerator and continuing another 4 months.  Occasionally, some may take over 6 months, but most should sprout within 1 to 4 months.

 Once they sprout, give them some sunlight or very bright artificial light.  Protect from strong afternoon sun the first few months.  Keep the soil evenly moist.

Fertilizing -- The first 6-8 weeks, feed every 7 days with a very dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer.  Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for this, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients.  I use General Hydroponics Flora fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon/gallon (5 mL per 4 liters).  After 6-8 weeks, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package.  Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.

 You may transplant them to larger containers when the plants are 3 months old. Repot gently to avoid breaking apart the soil ball.  Water before transplanting, to keep the soil ball together.  Always shade the plant from prolonged sun for a week after transplanting.

Tips on growing adult plants are here.

Have fun growing them!

- Jeff

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