Responses of dormant heather (Calluna vulgaris) seeds to light, temperature, chemical and advancement treatments
Two seed lots of Calluna vulgaris were obtainedfrom English Nature (seed of Cornish provenance) (EN) and John ChambersWildflower Seeds (JCWS). In laboratory tests, under continuous light untreatedseeds of both seed lots were partially dormant at temperatures between14–35 °C, but JCWS seeds were more deeply dormant thanENseeds. The optimum temperature for germination for both lots was ca 18°C. Germination of EN seeds was much lower in the dark than inthe light at all temperatures; JCWS seeds did not germinate in the dark. In thelight at 22 °C, dormancy of both seed lots was broken whenseeds were incubated in GA4/7 solution(2 × 10−4 M). Dormancy ofJCWSseeds at 22 °C in the light was broken when seeds wereincubated in four different smoke solutions but more so when used incombinationwith GA4/7. Soaking seeds for 4h insmoke/GA4/7solutions before sowing improved both the speed andpercentage germination in pot experiments on a mist bench in the glasshouse byat least 10-fold. Soaking with GA4/7 alone produced a 5-fold increasein germination but seedlings were more etiolated than with thesmoke/GA4/7 mixtures. A seed advancement treatment modified from thatused commercially on sugar beet seeds also promoted germination in bothlaboratory and glasshouse tests. This entailed soaking seeds in 0.2% thiramsuspension for 4h followed by incubation in excess solution at 22°C for 4 days. This treatment was not as effective as thesmoke/GA4/7 seed soaks.
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