CP Water Germination Experiment
Phase 1 tropical & subtropical species, mostly Drosera
When I decided to restart my CP collection I had some seeds stored in my refrigerator for up to 17 years. Some were from the ICPS seedbank and some were from my old collection in the mid to late 1990s. I had over two dozen species and varieties. I had little or no hope that any of those seeds were still viable and I didn't want to waste growing space and resources on a futile effort. So I decided to try an experiment. Put the seeds in test tubes half filled with distilled water and see what happens. In addition to the ancient seeds, I also purchased some new seed and tried to germinate them the same way. Here are the results so far.
Species, source, age, days to germination, and notes, sorted by days to germination
Drosera regia, Bulgarian nursery, fresh seed, 9 days, note 00
Drosera regia, ICPS seedbank, fresh seed, 10 days, note 01
Pinguicula moranensis “Caudata”, ICPS, 1999 +/-, 10 days
Drosera finlaysoniana, ICPS, fresh seed, 11 days
Drosera tokaiensis, ICPS, fresh seed, 11 days
Drosera aliciae sessifolia mix, ICPS 1999 +/-, 12 days
Drosera regia, UK nursery, 1999, 12 days, note 02
Drosera capensis “Wide Leaf”, German nursery, fresh seed, 12 days
Drosera capensis “Red”, ICPS, fresh seed, 13 days
Drosera capensis “Typical”, ICPS fresh seed, 13 days
Drosera burmannii “Queensland Bererwah”, ICPS, fresh seed, 14 days
Drosera capillaris, my old collection, 1999, 15 days
Drosera x snyderi (D. dielsiana x D. nidiformis), ICPS, 1999 +/-, 15 days
Drosera burmannii “Pillaga Red”, ICPS, fresh seed, 16 days
Drosera spatulata “Tamlin”, ICPS, fresh seed, 16 days
Drosera spatulata “Weedy Selection”, ICPS, 16 days
Drosera brevifolia, ICPS, 1999 +/-, 18 days
Drosera indica “Pink Flower” (D. finlaysoniana), ICPS, 1999 +/-, 18 days, note 03
Drosera capensis “Alba”, ICPS, 1999 +/-, 18 days
Drosera sp?, my old collection, 1999 +/-, 18 days, note 04
Drosera capensis “Red”, my old collection, 1999 +/-, 20 days, note 5
Drosera stenopetala, ICPS, 1999+/-, 54 days, note 06
Note 00: I learned from past mistakes and put each seed in an individual test tube. I used the eye-dropper transfer technique first on this batch. Each seedling went into an individual pot. 16 seeds yielded 16 seedlings. So far, 100% survival rate.
Note 1: 21 seeds yielded 21 seedlings. All seeds were in the same test tube (mistake #1). I waited until all had germinated to try planting them (mistake #2). Their roots were stuck to each other and I tried to pry them apart separating them (mistake #3). I tried using toothpicks, needles, forceps and various instruments to handle and move them (mistake #4). Out of 21 seeds, I had 6 survivors. After kicking myself for several days, I ordered more seeds and decided to try again. So far the survivors have been given a light foliar spritz of MaxSea (¼ tsp per gallon of distilled water) and some rehydrated dried bloodworm soup. Four are looking well but two died.
Note 2: This was very old seed and from 5 seeds, 1 germinated. I poured the test tube onto a paper towel. I tried to pick up the seed but had difficulty grabbing it. When I put it in the pot it landed in a bad location. I must have damaged the root by relocating it because it died a few days later.
Note 3: This germinated OK but the pot got knocked over, the soil spilled everywhere, and all the seedlings vanished in the mess. I replaced the soil but over a month later not one seedling has reappeared.
Note 4: This species appears to be Drosera burmannii. I grew this one from ICPS seeds over 15 years ago. Those plants produced seed. I saved it but never labeled it
Note 5: This was old seed that had not been cleaned well. Filamentous algae started to grow. I dumped out the water filtering the seeds out through a coffee filter. I added fresh water and a few days later the seeds germinated.
Note 6: I failed to do my homework on this species. It's a cold temperate growing Sundew. I should have given it 8 weeks of cold stratification with my temperate species.
Material and Conditions
Water: Distilled water with TDS 0 – 1 ppm.
Test tube:plastic 16 mm x 150 mm with plastic stopper
Lighting: T8 - 32 watt fluorescent 48” 6500K, 4 lamps, 6” away from test tubes,
Photoperiod: controlled by astronomical timer set up for 43 degrees North Latitude, synchronized with local (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA) sunup/sundown.
Temperature: 68F – 72F
Wash your test tubes and pour in your seeds. Don't forget to label your tubes with species and date.
Add 10 ml distilled water to each tube and put in the stopper.
Put tubes in a well lit area but avoid direct sunlight due to chance of algae growth.
Room temperature is fine. I did not use any bottom heat.
Agitate daily by shaking each several times.
Check test tubes every day with a magnifying glass of 10x or so.
When you see germination, mix up your growing media, and pot them up.
From here on, grow them as you normally do.
“Days to germination” is how many days until the radicle (first root)visibly breaks out of the seed. In some cases, the time may be a day longer than actual germination period because I waited an extra day until I was sure I saw that root emerging from that first seed.
I didn't count the seeds except Drosera regia so I can't give a germination percentage. The old Drosera regia was 5 seeds with one sprout so 20% there, not bad for 17 year old seed. The fresh D. regia germinated at 100%. With most species, there is a plethora of plants. When they mature I will need a large number of CP growing friends to take the extras off my hands.
Many of these seeds are very tiny. I use a 10x magnifier routinely to check for germination and for feeding some of the hungry annuals and Drosera regia.
After they germinate, the seeds are moved to a pot. You can just pour out your test tube where you wants your plants to end up. If you want a little more control, use a pipette or eye-dropper to suck up some of the seeds and place them precisely where you want them. Even Drosera regia seeds can be slurped up and moved without harming the delicate sprouting root.
Standard 2.5” seedling pots are filled with a layered mix.
The bottom half inch is long fiber sphagnum to prevent soil leakage.
The middle is a standard CP mix, 1 part silica sand to 1 part peat moss.
The top quarter inch is finely ground milled sphagnum moss. (Mosser Lee “No Damp Off”)
Don't mix it up until you need to.
I found only a few downsides. Most are avoidable with small changes.
Filamentous algae can grow in the test tube. But if it appears, just replace the water.
150mm deep test tubes make it difficult to reach the seeds with an eye dropper. Next time use a covered Petri dish or smaller stoppered glass vial
Seeds try to stick to the side of the test tube once germinated, especially D. regia and D. burmannii. Give the tube a good shake to dislodge them.
One failure so far. Byblis liniflora seed from my plant, harvested 11/2015 didn't germinate after a month. Thinking, maybe it's too fresh, it might need a season before it germinates, I dumped the test tube into my regular Byblis pot. We'll see if anything comes up in that spot this summer.
You can germinate CP seeds in vessels of distilled water. The seed is easily visible in the test tube and you can see exactly when it starts to germinate. You don't have to worry about molds or fungus. The growing mix isn't mixed up until the seed germinates so slime mold doesn't have a chance to appear and smother your seed. Sprouting this way takes less room and resources than conventional seed starting methods. From now on, I plan to try germinating almost all of my CP seeds this way.
Phase two of this experiment is an attempt to germinate temperate species of Drosera, Sarracenia, Cephalotus, Darlingtonia, and Pinguicula. in test tubes of distilled water. The seeds, already in water filled test tubes, are currently being stratified for 8 weeks in a refrigerator. I will remove them on May 1st and start my next countdown to germination. I should post a follow up to this forum a month or two after that.
It should be obvious to everyone that I'm not a horticulturalist. I've made every mistake in the book. I apologize to all the plants I killed. All you real CP growers should laugh at this article but possibly it may spark some idea or derivative technique that may further the hobby. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now if only I had some Drosera hartmeyerorum seeds to experiment upon! (Cue evil maniacal laughter and fade to black)