Last updated: 29.11.2023, 11:57 a.m.
By: Laura Wittstruck
Plants from colder climates need low temperatures to form seedlings. Cold germinators also include many native species.
November is usually cold and dingy – and sometimes the ground is already frozen. But something is happening underground: certain plant species need the cold season to be able to form seedlings later on. They are known as cold germinators. Hobby gardeners can find out which species are included here.
Cold germinators: That's why they need sowing in autumn and winter
Some gardening experts also know cold germinators as frost germinators. Seeds (promotional link) of such plants must be placed in the ground in autumn or winter, otherwise they will not germinate. The reason for this is that the seeds contain hormones that inhibit or promote budding. The drive-inhibiting hormones prevent seeds from sprouting in the cold season and then freezing to death. If the plant receives a cold stimulus, it begins to break down these hormones. After a few weeks, the seed contains more and more of the germ-promoting hormone – and the cold germinator begins to sprout just in time for spring.
Frost germinator or cold germinator?
How cold a cold stimulus has to be for a seed to develop depends heavily on the plant species in question. Sub-zero temperatures are not necessarily necessary – which is why the term frost germinator is now considered outdated.
List of typical cold germinators
Cold germinators are used to a cold climate – which is why many species native to Germany are among them. For example, you should sow these plants in autumn or winter:
- Christmas Rose
- Scented violets
- Lady's mantle
The Christmas rose grows mainly in the Alps, which is why its seeds like it cool. © IMAGO/Christian Ditsch
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This is how the sowing of cold germinators works
Whether a cold germinator needs to be planted in autumn or winter is usually revealed by a look at the seed packet. Seed trays with the respective label aresuitable for cultivation. This way, hobby gardeners know exactly where which plant is sprouting. These are then simply taken outside into the bed – snow and frost do not bother the seeds.
However, some cold germinators should first swell in a warmer environment. Forgot to sow your cold germinators? No problem: you can still prefer some types in the refrigerator.