Cold Stratification

Cold Stratification

Stratifying in a refrigerator typically refers to the process of cold stratifying seeds. Cold stratification is a technique used to simulate winter conditions and break seed dormancy, which encourages germination. Here's what you need to know:

What seeds need stratification?

Many trees, shrubs, and wildflowers native to temperate climates have seeds that require cold stratification to germinate.

How to stratify seeds in a refrigerator:

    1. Prepare the seeds:

        • Remove any wings or fleshy coatings from the seeds.
        • Soak the seeds in water for 24-48 hours (depending on the specific seed requirements).
    1. Choose a moist medium:

        • You can use damp paper towels, sand, peat moss, or vermiculite.
        • Make sure the medium is moist but not soggy.
    1. Place the seeds in the medium:

        • For small seeds, spread them out on a damp paper towel.
        • For larger seeds, mix them into the damp medium.
    1. Seal the container:

        • Place the seeds and medium in a sealed plastic bag or container.
        • Poke a few small holes in the bag for air circulation.
    1. Refrigerate:

        • Place the sealed container in the back of your refrigerator, where the temperature is coldest (around 35-40°F).
        • The stratification period varies depending on the seed type, but it is typically 4-12 weeks.
    1. Monitor the seeds:

        • Check the seeds periodically to ensure they are staying moist.
        • If the paper towels or medium dry out, add more water.
    1. Plant the seeds:

        • Once the stratification period is complete, you can plant the seeds in pots or outdoors (depending on the season and climate).


    • Label the container with the type of seeds and the start date of stratification.
    • Check your seed packet for specific stratification instructions, as the requirements can vary.
    • Don't let the seeds freeze in the refrigerator.
    • Not all seeds require stratification. Be sure to research the specific needs of the seeds you are planting.


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