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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - February 27, 2007

From: YORK, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Seeds and Seeding
Title: Danger of seeds being damaged in cold stratifying
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I started cold stratifying some wildflower seeds with some damp cloths in a refrigerator to plant them in the spring. When I was finished preparing the seeds the refrigerator door was somehow left open, leaving the seed/medium mixture icey for about 48 hours. My question is this: could the seeds be killed? I believe they are all hearty to about zone 5. I assume frost happens in nature all the time, but how will this affect my seed treatment? Thanks, and happy gardening with natives...

ANSWER:

There is a very good chance that your seeds will be just fine. They could have possibly been damaged if the cloth they were in was too wet and the seeds had imbibed too much water. That, however, is rather unlikely. Certainly, as you suggest, seeds survive more rigorous conditions outside in their zone 5 native areas.

 

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