Alpine Strawberry Seeds

mcantrellAugust 9, 2008

So, I am attempting to get some Alpine Strawberry plants started, and have had quite a bit of trouble.

On a whim, I purchased 3 packets from Swallowtail Garden Seeds and forgot about them for a few weeks. Once I remembered, I planted each one, about 1 month between plantings. All 3 packets have resulted in 0 (perhaps 1) plant.

The first packet of 100 seeds I put in a tray of peat moss and perlite, dusted the top with the seeds, sprinkled a small bit of peat on top for coverage, then watered and covered with a clear dome, leaving the whole affair in the window. The tray and dome were actually containers for deli food from the local supermarket, properly cleaned up for use in this manner. This setup worked just fine for catnip seeds, so I was hopeful that I would have similar success with the strawberries.

No stratification or soaking was done, as it was more or less a spontaneous thing.

I had 1 small seedling pop up, literally weeks after I had given up the pot as a failure, which may or may not be catnip (as the bottom layer of soil was re-used). I repotted that one yesterday in a bigger pot and put it in a sunny windowsill. It is about 3-4 weeks old now and was not growing in the 1" pot I had it in.

The second packet I used on a setup I had already germinated some Strawberry seeds from. However, the other strawberry seeds that I managed to germinate were literally seeds flaked off a fresh strawberry from the store, but I had a great deal of success with that, with 5 rather big "keeper" plants from the set. It has been 2 months now with no germination, again with a domed cover (with several holes for ventilation), and in a shady spot near the windowsill. I have since moved the setup outside into a shady area, I am hoping the colder temperatures at night would spark germination. Again, no stratification nor soaking of the seeds.

The third setup was a standard 1" pot. The pot was sold as a little $1 kit from Target for Valentines' day, and came with alpine strawberry seeds, which I did not use (I am unsure as to the age of that seed). These pots actually have had a really good success rate for me and other seeds, but again, I foolishly did not try stratification nor soaking the seeds. I had 1 seedling from this, which I believe got damp-off and died.

I have sinceforth moved the pot onto a small nook near the air conditioner, in order to see if lower temperatures will work. By my count it still has 99 seeds that might germinate, someday...

All 3 of these were more or less spontaneous attempts at getting these seeds to work, in all 3 cases I had seeds laying around that I had forgotten about and just decided to go for it.

However, I got a new setup of seeds from Kitchen Garden Seeds, 3 packets of 1000 yellow alpine seeds, 2 packets of red alpine seeds. This one had slightly different instructions, mentioning that the plants will not germinate over 70 degrees. In addition, angered by my previous losses, I looked up propagation of these seeds online, apparently they require being frozen for a short period to bring them out of dormancy?

So right now, my setup is:

2 packets in the Freezer, put in there 2 days ago. 1y 1r.

2 packets in the Fridge, put in there 2 days ago. 1y 1r.

1 packet in my workshop, 1y.

I am unsure how to proceed from here. My plan is to take the 4 packets out of the fridge/freezer at the start of September. The temperatures in my area are hovering around 55-60 at night, but hitting 85-90 in the day, which is apparently too hot for the seeds to germinate?

What would everyone suggest I do with my new seed? I was thinking of keeping the plants out during the night, and putting them near the air conditioner during the day, in order to attempt to keep them cold enough to germinate. I could try the baggie method (ziplock with damp paper towels) instead, but with the size of the seed I am a bit worried about that.

I have a kit of Fiber Grow Pellets -- peat moss discs with a "hairnet" surrounding them, which supposedly are great for starting seeds, as well as a tupperware tray that I can use to put them in and keep them moist, but that is a moot point if the temperature is what is preventing germination.

Would the seed be ok if I simply left it in the fridge/freezer until fall? I honestly would like to get the seed started this year rather than waiting for fall and growing them in a window all winter, but if that's the only option I will take it.

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mwellik(z7 DE)

I grow and sell alpine strawberry seeds. They can be tough at times to germinate. They will germinate at higher temperatures if the seed is good. I've had them germinate when temperatures are in the 80's and higher. The problem at higher temperatures is to keep them moist. If they dry out, they die - and quickly. At higher temperatures I usually get germination in 6-9 days. At lower temperature (in the 50's) it takes about two weeks but can take a month or more.

I wouldn't suggest using peat pellets. I personally had a couple of disasters this past spring with them as did several of my customers. I believe the problem is that they dry out too quickly. Myself and customers also had problems with sponge type materials so I don't recommend them either.

Another key in germination of alpine strawberry seeds is that they need light. I've had germination without light but my experience and the literature shows that light is a big help.

If you are in a warm zone, then I would suggest germinating them now. If you are in a colder area and have a greenhouse or protected area, again, go ahead now. If you don't have a greenhouse or protection and are in zone 7 or lower, wait until January, December at the earliest. These seeds take 4 months from seed to seed - meaning that 4 months after you seed them they will produce their first fruit - of course, this is the ideal.

Seeds of any strawberry sown immediately after saving it will usually give good germination. Older seeds do need to be kept at 40 degrees F or less for at least 3-4 weeks to break dormancy. I actually freeze them for 4 weeks. But, you can usually get by with this only once so don't freeze or chill all until you are ready to sow.

A dome over the flat or capillary watering works great for alpines. Once a good share have germinated take off the cover and remove from capillary matting to avoid seedling diseases. Keep them moist, but not soggy wet. A little air circulation during the seedling stage with an ocillating fan also helps with the disease situation and helps them to more naturally dry out. This also helps with fungus gnat problems which can also become severe with soil that doesn't dry out.

Hope that helps. Good luck. Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: Alpine Strawberries

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:23PM
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Well, I've tried 3 setups:

Setup the first: 5-6" long tray, covered with dome with several humidity holes removed. Seed was not prepared in any way. Very limited germination, only 1-2 seeds ever sprouted out of 100 planted, and only 1 of those has lived.

Setup 2: 1" small pot, no covering. Seed was not prepared in any way. 100 seeds planted, 1 seedling sprouted then died.

Setup 3: 4" small pot, dome with several humidity holes. Because I like Irony, this was originally a single serving of strawberry shortcake from the local bakery. Seed was not prepared in any way. 100 seeds planted, 0 germinated. Soil was pure peat moss.

I have put the 3rd Setup outside in permanent shade, in the hopes that they will do something. The second setup is being moved between the porch at night and next to the air conditioner during the day, in an attempt to keep it cooler.

My next setups will involve 2 packets from the freezer (1 yellow, 1 red), 2 packets from the fridge (1 yellow, 1 red), and 1 packet that has not be frozen -- although I might.

When I remove these it will be at least September. Do you think the seeds would survive until December in the fridge? I am in zone 5 to 6, depending on if you believe in Climate Change affecting the USDA zones.

I will have 3000 Yellow Alpine seeds and 2000 Red Alpine seeds, so I can try a few different setups, I was going to try a set of the plugs or pellets or whatever they're called (the discs that swell up), as well as a standard pot or two, as well as my domed dish, etc etc.

Alternately I could try the baggie method, I donno if that would work with seeds that small...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 8:17PM
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One more silly question -- would the germination rate be higher if I had REALLY fresh seed? Like, seed straight off the strawberries into the soil?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:44AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I had a little trouble at first this year germinating alpines (for the first time), but finally got it right on the second try.

Clear deli container with lid (just like you used), no holes at all

Moist seed starting soil, about 2" in the container

Add seeds

Lightly sprinkle sifted peat moss through a screen (like from a screen door) onto the strawberry seeds (just barely covering them).. very lightly

Gently spray with a mister. The peat is so dry it will normally bubble-up in places as water attempts to soak through the fine peat.

Put lid on container and set underneath fluorescent tube shop lights in basement for 14 hours/day

Mist again on the 2nd day

Mist every other day thereafter, replacing clear lid each time.

Strawberries germinated about 2 weeks later with the misting regime under the lights.

After several weeks I transplanted the 1/4" wide plants into 6-packs and let them grow several more weeks with careful watering (don't let the leaves get wet once transplanted and out of the deli container).

Believe it or not, this is exactly what worked for me. I do the same exact procedure for lettuce too.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:54AM
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Did you prepare the seeds by freezing them?

I have no shop lights unfortunately, but I do have a grow-light in a desk lamp, that might be the best compromise...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:42PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

No freezing done at all... straight out of the seed packet. They were sold as medicinal 'herbs'. The package says they are good for feminine cramps.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 8:13PM
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reba_nc(z 7)

I have 85% germination rate on alpine strawberries with the moist paper towel in plastic method. They germinate in 3-5 days. I pick them off with a toothpick and pot them in a compost/potting soil mix and keep moist until established. I get so many more plants with this method than sowing directly that I consider the extra initial effort well worth it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 9:36PM
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Got 5 setups and put the rest back in.

Freezer seed -> Pot of Potting Soil
Fridge seed -> Pot of Potting Soil
Freezer seed -> Baggie method in fridge
Fridge seed -> Baggie method in window
Fridge seed -> Baggie method in desk drawer

We'll see what works. I still have a lot of seed, they're in the fridge/freezer again.

I am actually almost scared of the thought of 85% germination. I probably have 500 seeds across the 5 setups.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 12:11AM
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i bought alpine strawberry seeds two different times last year, i winter sowed them, failed. and i also used the stay green soil and covered them barely and i kept them moist, failed. didn't let them dry out. now here's the thing. i did like the other, i scraped off the seeds from a huge strawberry, and i got a huge amount of strawberrie babbies. the thing is, they grow better than the seeds i get from the places. so i don't order from them anymore. the year befor i ordered and the same thing again. i thought ok i might get it right, LOL no deal. i mean winter sowing is supposed to be the best method but not for this. ~Medo

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 10:10PM
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Weird, the seeds are staining the paper towels. That's odd. Hope it's not fungus.

I'm opening them once a day and letting the air cycle out, so... Hopefully in 2-3 weeks, we'll have some plants. :)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 11:51AM
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Oh my, I fear I may have an embarrassment of riches.

Bag 1 (Window, Seeds from Fridge): Multiple sprouts, including some very obvious green. I moved 2 seedlings into a pot, but this was probably premature. They do not appear to be breaking through the 1 layer of paper towel.

Bag 2 (Fridge, Seeds from Freezer): No activity yet, but I have not checked for roots.

Bag 3 (Desk, Seeds from Fridge): No Green, but a ton of roots. 1 more week and I'll start seeing green.

Pot 1 (Small 2" square pot, Seeds from Freezer): 1 or 2 seedlings coming up.

Pot 2 (4" plastic pot, Seeds from Fridge): 6 or 7 seedlings coming up.

No clue what I'm gonna do with 50-60 Yellow Alpine Strawberry plants. Probably give them away as gifts to teammates at work, assuming they all survive.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Hi guys, at first I want to say WOW, how did I live my life without knowing about this forum.

So I really want to plant alpine strawberries in my place, but I live in a very warm place, here we don't have winters, it remains almost the same temperature all year , ranges from 77F to 91F and doesn't drop any lower than 70F or any higher than 93F (like ever) and I'm trying to grow these here. I will try stratification via putting them in the fridge, my seeds come from Spain so I am hoping these are more heat tolerant.

But the question is I was just wondering, with these daily temperatures, do I have to pretend to the plant its *spring* by giving it partial shade, before exposing it to the daily +80F average?

And do you think that it will actually die in the hot weather, did you ever have problem with plants dying in a hot summer?

And if you could prevent how did you do it?

Do you guys think its a good idea to give it partial shade or full sun? (we have 12h and min of 11:30h of sun every day ear round being that *winter* is the -30 minutes of sun)

That would be very kind of you if you could tell me anything about hot weather and strawberries

thanks :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 7:30AM
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