How to germinate Viola seeds

tropical_thought(San Francisco)February 3, 2010

I want to germinate some viola seeds I bought, but I did not realize how hard it would be. The last time I tried I only got one plant. I have had luck with winter sowing of pansies. I want to know about this have to put them in the refrigerator or freezer. I think a direct sow will create a healthier plant, but if I was to do this whole complex put in frig five days, germinate, move out doors, can someone give me detailed instructions on how these steps work? I am in San Francisco and we are like 50 degrees here right now, and we grow all year, there is no snow, so I don't know if I could chance just planting them outside. And why do they need total darkness to germinate? Obviously they don't because I never would have gotten one plant with the direct outdoor sow. I have a photo of the one plant I did get a few years ago. But, it only produced one flower.

Here is a link that might be useful: Viola I grew from seeds

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I just started 48 Viola seeds last week and as of this morning about 20 of them have germinated. I think by total darkness they mean that the seeds must be covered with soil. The seeds I had came from a seed packet from the farm store, I didn't give them a cold treatment or anything. This is what I did:
1. Filled plastic cell packs (6 packs) with moist Pro-Mix
2. Made a little hole in each cell with my pinky
3. Put one little tiny seed into each hole
4. Covered them lightly with the soil that got pushed away by making the hole
5. Misted them with a spray bottle and covered the tray with clear plastic
6. Placed them in a sunny window in a room that never goes below 64 or 65F at night and stays about 70 or 75 degrees during the day (I am not saying that these are the proper temperatures, but it has worked for me)
7. When they started to germinate I removed the cover to allow for air circulation.

I have never tried winter sowing, so I have no advice to offer with that, maybe a post over in the WS forum could give you more advice on that.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 7:14AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Thanks I want to give them the treatment, because one plant with one flower was a very disappointing yield. I have to buy a cell/flat, but the kind I see in the stores are always much cheap thin plastic. If I buy a flat, I want one that I can use again without it being bent out of shape after one use. I have to do an online search for that. I want to also ask in the voila forum as you suggested, but I think they frown on double posting.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 9:47AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

tropical, 'viola' covers a lot of plants and they don't all have the same germination requirements. i.e. Your Prince John viola from your photo is v. cornuta, and while a moist chill (not freeze) wouldn't hurt, should germinate in approx 21 days @65-70F. Which viola seed did you buy?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 10:56AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

On the package it says Burpee Viola Blackjack, but does not give a Latin second name. I had good luck with a black pansy called black moon, so I thought this might be similar. The package only has sewing direction for climates that snow and are colder then my zone 10. I read on the botanical interests webpage you have to put it in the refrigerator or freezer, but maybe that's not correct? We are running about 50 degrees here, I thought I could do an outdoor sew.

Special Germination Instructions: Even though easy to germinate, Violas do better with stratification, a process of subjecting seeds to moist/cold treatment to break the seeds dormancy. Indoors, sow seeds into moistened soil and place in the refrigerator or freezer for about 5 days. Seeds can then be germinated. Viola seed also requires darkness to germinate. Make sure seeds are planted at recommended depth of 1/8".

Here is a link that might be useful: How to germinate viola seeds

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 11:03AM
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started_with_bean(Zone 5--MA)

I started violas last year, and like sarahbarah, started them in soil in a shallow container and kept a light sprinkling of soil over the seeds and they germinated quite well. These were seeds that were open pollinated from a GW trade. I kept them quite warm over a radiator and aired them out a couple of times a day, but definitely kept them moist. Once leaves emerged, took off plastic and gave them lots of light, both natural and artificial (sunlight when available, fluorescent other times) for about 8-12 hours/day until nice an tall. If you don't want to have to guess your germination with a bunch of soil sitting around, try the baggie method. I wet a coffee filter or two, put the seeds between the layers, stick the whole thing in a ziplock baggie, and put it over someplace that's consistently warm during the day, like your computer or a cable box. That way, you can see what germinates, and it's easier to keep warm and you're not bothered with getting specific flats. Plant into pots once you see a decent size rootlet and first set of leaves. Handle gently!

I think the sun is really weak and short during this time of year, even in SF. Taking into account how long the fog hangs around, your flowers may not be getting enough light to grow well. I also find that my violas liked getting a haircut after first blooms and that got me more flowers a couple of weeks later.
Hope this helps even a little!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 11:16AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It looks like your Black Jack is also v. cornuta - I'm only seeing them advertised by Burpee and sister company Cooks Garden where they also refer to them as Johnny Jump Up (= cornuta) .

While the moist chill isn't required, you may get better (higher percentage) germination with it, if your temps are averaging day/night around 50F, that's probably cool enough - it's doing the same here and I'm putting seed containers for things that could use the moist chill outdoors. While probably safe in sowing and placing your pots outdoors, don't expect to necessarily find germination within the 21 days at the cooler temps, you likely won't find seedlings until your temps warm up a little. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the light/dark requirements either, this type self sows reliably without anyone trying to regulate amounts of light.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 2:52PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I have some wild johnny jump ups that reseed like weeds, but the cultivated ones do not reseed. Normally I buy them as plants, and they can only be increased in numbers by division. I have never gotten one reseed what so ever on the violas. Here is a photo of the weed ones, that I actually have to get tough and pull them out. All of these reseeded in shade.

I am going to try the refrigerator, I have a small drinks refrigerator, I got for the purpose of chilling things like bulbs. I want a high yeild this time.

Here is a link that might be useful: wild johnny jump ups

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 3:08PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I guess I will do the cold treatment then the warm treatment, because the birds will eat them if they hang around. I will end of having to weed and disturb them. I have so much grassy weed poa annua, it sprouts daily, I have to disturb my soil frequently. Although I have gotten some poppies and snap dragons to sprout with a direct sow. At least I think they are snap dragons and not just weeds. This is after thinking it over. If I don't sow in flats, I can not tell if I am getting the weed johnny jumps or the ones I planted and you can not tell the difference until it blooms, which is why I sort of tried to cut down on the amount of wild johnny jumps. Each flower makes like 100 seeds on the seed head. They are nice cute little flowers, but I like to try different colored ones.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 3:33PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I had so many seeds I used a flat and direct sewed the rest, so I will have to see what comes up now. I put them on the sunny side of the garden, where there are less of the johnny jump up weeds, so I hope I can get maybe one or two plants. I put in some already grown just in case skippy blues.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 8:26PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Next time I am going to wait until April to sew them. I only got two plants, and they were all created by direct sew. The ones I put in flats were very weak, and never grew. San Francisco has a mild climate.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 11:17AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I didn't get any germination last year. I kept the extra seeds in the frige until spring of this year. I then sowed just like I would any seed of that size, didn't cover, kept under lights and misted until germination(5-7 days). After germination I placed the container in a bowl and kept 1/4-1/2" of water at all times until ready to go in the garden.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 9:54PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I did get a huge amount of germination from the indoor sow, but none of the plants lived. They stayed very weak. I did get three plants, I found a new one, from the direct sow, that lived to give flowers. But, johnny jump ups, as in the photo posted above are easy to reseed. Violas are more difficult.The violas are more compact plants. The johnny jumps have bigger flowers and a more branching habit. They actually self seed if you let them. Each flower head will make seeds that you can see or even harvest.

Here is a link that might be useful: The viola from seed

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 9:54AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

The johnny jumps have bigger flowers and a more branching habit.

Those flowers are only 1/2-3/4" and there is about 8 plants there.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 4:36PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

The link in my posting above is wrong. I was sure that I used the Burpee Viola Blackjack link and now I can't find that link anymore on Burpee. It has been changed to the
king Henry Viola - cornuta

My photos pertain the Burpee, which has a better germinate rate then the Botanical Interests. When I grew the prince john I got exactly one plant, that did not even look like the correct plant.

The johnny jumps up which are also posted a photo earlier are viola tricolor and the ones I was trying to grow are viola cornuta. Someone else commented that the link was wrong, but now it's really wrong, I don't know why it keep changing. But, I just got those seeds at Lowes Osh or home depot, so it may be possible to find them out there in the racks if one wanted to try the same flowers. One can also buy johnny jump up seeds but those are viola tricolor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Johnny Jump Up defintion wikipedia

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 12:27PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

LOL! Wikipedia information is entered by everyday people like you and me and has as much mis-information as any forum. Try googling johnny jump up flower or try daves garden and you will see that JJU is viola tri-color.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 2:36PM
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