plant alstromeria seeds in pots now, with plans to mulch/cover/protect pots over the winter?
Asked September 6, 2018, 4:10 PM EDT
Hi, I've succeeded once with seeds in pots. My gut says plant them now, in well drained soil, because that's how nature would do it. Let me know if you have thoughts/experience. thanks, sue
Benton County Oregon
Thanks for your question about starting Alstroemeria seeds. Your "gut" has good instincts, IF the plant is a local native. Native plants are ripening their seeds now, and they will drop, blow, or be carried somewhere where they will wait out the winter to germinate (or in some cases, germinate in fall).
However, Alstroemeria is a tender perennial native to south America, so the conditions in its native habitat are rather different. Seed starting is actually a very complex subject, because seeds have a variety of mechanisms to delay germination until conditions are favorable for them to grow. If they didn't, all the seeds would germinate right away around their parent. In reality, different seeds need varying combinations of cold/warm, moist/dry, and physical damage (such as passing through the gut of an animal), before they will germinate.
Fortunately for you, Alstroemeria is not one of the really hard ones to germinate, IF it is sown fresh from the plant (if the seed you have is dry, try the same procedure, but you have a lower chance of success).
According to the AHS book "Plant Propagation" (an excellent reference on the subject), the seed should be sown in a well-drained seed starting mix, at a minimum temperature of 68 deg. for 4 weeks. Then, remove the seeds from the pot and "chip each outer case above the embryo, which shows as a dark spot" (they need damage to the seed coat to finish their germination cycle). Then re-sow them, and maintain them at about 50 deg.
So in other words, no, don't put them outside, and during the remainder of the winter you'll need to keep them in a cool place, but well above freezing.