Can you tell me what I'm doing that is so wrong, and how to do it
Last year I tried to grow Sassafras seeds with no success. This year I
will try again!?! I followed the instructions on the seed packet
I soaked the seeds in tepid water. After 12 hours, I removed the (now
wet) berry. I continued soaking for another 12 hours. I cleaned the
seed coat by scrubbing lightly with a plastic kitchen scourer (to
remover any remaining berry tissue). At this time nearly all the seeds
had sunk to the bottom of the water. I then divided my seeds into 2
equal portions (discarding the seeds which floated on top). I soaked
half the seeds in fungicide suspension for an hour. I used
"Supercarb", at a dilute concentration of 1g/450 ml water. This
contains "carbendazim plus activator". I placed the seeds into 2 used
Petri dishes containing moist sand, both in the same plastic bag (to
prevent them drying out). After cold stratification in a fridge, at a
temperature of about 2-5 C for 4 months, I noticed that the seeds
without the fungicide treatment had (as expected) gone mouldy. I
planted my seeds out into 2 containers (last March). One half of the
seeds (half of the treated ones and half untreated seeds) were put in
a container with sand and the rest of the seeds into a container with
John Innes No 1 compost. So I had 4 series of seeds; each series given
a different treatment. These were all put in a cold frame. I ensured
that the seed containers did not dry out by checking the moisture (by
touch) and watering when I thought it had got too dry. None of the
I missed out the mulching, (described below). Is it that important?
Sassafras is a dioecious plant. Is it possible that I had a bad, e.g.
an infertile, batch of seeds?
I am at a loss to figure out what I did wrong. This method of soaking
in fungicide has worked well for other seeds both those requiring cold
stratification and those that don't.
Most of the instructions I've read on the Internet for growing
Sassafras seeds mention cold stratification but not all describe how
it should be done. Some of the instructions say that 2 months of
stratification at 2-5 C is sufficient.
The original reference on that topic (Bonner and Maisenhelder [ref. 1]
<quote>Germination:- The seeds exhibit strong embryo dormancy, which
can be overcome with moist stratification at 41° F. (5° C) for 120
days. Germination can be tested in moist sand or other media at
temperatures of 70° to 85° F. (21-29° C) for up to 120 days.</quote>
As I said I am down but not out. I have ordered a new batch of seeds
and will try again. Apart from mulching (with leaves?) and trying
different fungicides, is there anything else I should try? For
instance, should my cold frame be in the shade or in the sun? What is
the sense in trying to germinate seeds in sand? I noticed that the
sand dries out quite quickly. I only tried sand because the guys who
did the initial trials, using 120 days cold stratification, also used
sand. They published their results in the
This year I will start 8 series (for planting next spring). I will try
out 2 different types of fungicide and a quarter of the seeds will get
no fungicide at all. I propose:
Series treatment (fungicide, cold stratification period):
1 no fungicide, 2 months
2 no fungicide, 3 months
3 Supercarb, 2 months
4 Supercarb, 3 months
5 Supercarb, 4 months
6 Dithane 945, 2 months
7 Dithane 945, 3 months
8 Dithane 945, 4 months
I will put my cold frame in direct sunlight, all series will be
germinated in John Innes #1 and mulched with leaves. Are there any
I got my seeds from a recommended US seed supplier: "The Sheffield
Seed Co." Here are the instructions provided on the seed package:
Sassafras albidum db. Source 2004, Missouri.
Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours.
Stratification: cold stratify for 120 days.
Germination: sow seed, 3/8" deep; damp the soil, keep moist, mulch the
seed bed, can be sown outdoors in the fall for spring germination.
Other: remove seed from fruit prior to treatments.
1) Bonner, F. T., and L. C. Maisenhelder. 1974. Sassafras albidum
(Nutt.) Nees sassafras. In Seeds of woody plants in the United States.
p. 761-762. C. S. Schopmeyer, tech. coord. U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 450. Washington, DC.