How to Germinate Gentian Seeds?

Plants & Flowers
Gentian Seeds

In order to enjoy beautiful Gentians in your garden, it is important to know how to start them from seeds. Germination is one of the trickiest things about these plants, since they have a very long germination period.

Are Gentians Difficult to Grow?

One of the reasons why Gentians are so rarely found in gardens is that they have a reputation to be difficult to grow. There is some truth to this claim: these plants are not among the easiest ones to grow in your garden.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to make your Gentians thrive, but you need to make an effort. Perhaps the biggest problem with Gentians is that they are not so easy to find, so it might be difficult to start them in your garden. While you might find some more popular varieties in garden centers, you have to be ready to start the rarer ones directly from seed.

In other words, Gentians are not for those who are impatient or do not want to dedicate much time to the garden. If you do want to make an effort it is perfectly possible to have a garden full of beautiful Gentians. With these plants, there might be some trial and error but once you figure out what they like, it becomes easier.

Long Germination Period

One thing that needs to be remembered about Gentians is that they have a long germination period. This is where many lose patience. Keep in mind that you won't be able to tell right away if the seeds are germinating properly. Time of sowing and, of course, the variety, can have some influence on how long the seeds take to germinate.

In some rare cases, Gentian seeds may take many months to germinate. This often happens when they are not provided with the best soil or other conditions they need to thrive. On the other hand, with proper timing and the best conditions, Gentian seeds can germinate in less than a month.

Sowing the seeds during spring (but not later than June) seems to provide the best results. This timing makes Gentians germinate relatively quickly and without much trouble. However, keep in mind that this is not the only time of the year when you can sow Gentian seeds, as long as you are ready to wait a bit more for them to germinate.

Sowing the Seeds

It is best to sow Gentian seeds in smaller pots. Many people prefer to sow them flat so they can water the pot from the bottom. The trial and error approach shows that Gentians love bottom water, particularly if it's percolating.

Sometimes, seeds may be dormant for many months and then quickly germinate after they were put in a shallow pot with a water beneath. You can produce the same effect if you use a shallow container lined with gravel.

Photo credit: Peter Stenzel

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