Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

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Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Bonsai Jay on Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:38 pm

Greetings,
I shall get to the point. My name is Jaimie. I have literally no hands on understanding of bonsai. I have 3 or 4 old books on the subject.
Anyway here it goes!
(Soaked seeds over 24hrs previous night)
1. I used a seeding tray with 80 cells.
2. mixed akada and reg soil in each cell
3. Placed a single seed gently finger depth in each cell and did with each species in a row behind each other.
4. Labeled each line and did the same for each species, watered them well, but not drown.
6. I placed them like that in my fridge Nov 16th 2015 for stratification.
7. 1 Jan 15th 2016 I remove them from the fridge, water them generously and place them on the window sill exposed to sunlight for approx 6hrs a day.
8. I water every second day.


The instructions I had were literally a single paragraph that only gave a basic idea that you must refrigerate these seeds for 3 months.
I have not noticed any signs of life and concluding I may have killed thise batch of seeds?

I killed them didnt I?
Trident Maple, Buxus evergreen box, Japanese Black Pine, Ulmus Parvifolia, Japanese Quince, Japanese cheversis, Punica Granatum, Cypres Hinkopi and zelkova serrata

Any help and advice if there is any way to rescue this massacre ive made of this would be much appreciated.
Thanks

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  leatherback on Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:08 pm

Hi,

Nice way to get started, but also the long way.. Using seeds I mean. Just realize, that most bonsai are not grown from seed, but rather cut down from much older material. Only patient people grow from seed Very Happy

That being said.. You could (should) probably just have placed the tray outside. Stratification is needed because seeds stay asleep untill winter has passed. The 3 months is because... In winters like the current, temperatures go up and down; The seeds need a long cold period before they wake up.

I am guessing you could just chuk them outside now, and you would probably get sprouts in april, may. Just place it sheltered from direct sun, and make sure they do not dry out (And keep mice and bird from reaching the tray! Nothing as annoying of seeing seeds germinating, and a bird just pulling them andor mice chumping on the fresh seedslings, I know from experience.)

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Bonsai Jay on Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:33 pm

Thanks for your reply, you have given me hope maybe one or two sprout. I chose to grow from seed because I have a personal resolution to prove I will commit to a discipline, be reliable and most of all learn something about patience. We'll see how it goes.
I want to see what I could do better as I have 15 new batches of seeds awaiting stratification next.


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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  fiona on Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:09 am

Whereabouts do you stay, Jaimie? Anywhere near Airdrie?

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Bonsai Jay on Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:25 am

north of Aberdeen

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  james_smith on Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:08 pm

Seeds are not "sleeping"; they haven't germinated yet.  There are chemicals that prevent the seeds from germinating contained within the seed.  Those chemicals must be broken down.  There are two methods by which the chemicals are broken down: exposure to either warm or cold (none of your species have a warm stratification requirement.)

The time necessary for each requirement varies by species:

Trident Maple: 90 days cold
Buxus: 30 days cold
Japanese Black Pine: 60 days cold
Ulmus parvifolia: 90 days cold
Japanese Quince: 90 days cold
Japanese cheversis: No idea
Punica granatum: No stratification
Hinoki Cypress: 60 days cold
Zelkova serrata: 60 days cold

Here's what I do:

  • Soak the seeds 24 hours in warm water (don't mix species)
  • Find sandwich bags
  • Write the species, date and required stratification time on the bag (don't overlook this step!)
  • BARELY wet sphagnum moss, place in plastic sandwich bags
  • Add the seeds to the sphagnum moss
  • Place in fridge
  • Mark your calendar
  • Wait
  • Start checking the bags for white root tips close to the due-date
  • Plant

I do not water during stratification.
The seeds have absorbed all the water that they need until germination during the soak.

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  fiona on Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Do you live anywhere near Keith? (for those members who are not lucky enough to live in Scotland, Keith is a place and not a person. LOL) If so, you have one of Scotland's finest bonsai-ists on your doorstep.

Did you know there was a club up that way too?

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  leatherback on Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:34 am

james_smith wrote:Seeds are not "sleeping"; they haven't germinated yet.  

Guess things here are lost in language. The seeds are not dead. They are not active. They are dormant/sleeping in other words. Waiting to be woken up by the right circumstances to start growth. Smile

Good overview of the germination requirements. Thx.

What I have never understood.. Why go through the hassle of fridge-stratification? Why do you not pot them up in fall, and place them outside for winter?

Cheers,

Jelle.

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  fiona on Tue Jan 26, 2016 4:59 pm

leatherback wrote: Why do you not pot them up in fall, and place them outside for winter?

From my reading of Jaimie's original post he has done both. It looks as if he potted them and then put them in the fridge. I also assume that they are now on the inside window sill rather than the outside.

If he'd asked before carrying out the work, I'd have advised him to do what Jelle is suggesting as it is almost ideal conditions for most of his trees up there, despite having been much milder this year. The pomegranate will struggle over here anyway even if it does germinate. No reason why he can't do that now though.


Jaimie, by Japanese chevrensis did you mean Juniper chinensis?

And just out of interest, where did you get the seeds?




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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  M. Frary on Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:38 pm

I plant my elm seeds right off of the tree into soil. They pop up in 2 to 3 weeks. Zero refrigerator time.
Grew 100 last spring.

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  fiona on Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:34 pm

What summer, spring and winter temperatures do you normally get in Michigan?

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  M. Frary on Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:36 pm

Hi Fiona!
We are a lot like Alaska in regard to spring in the part of Michigan where I live. We actually have had worse winters than a lot of Alaska for the past 2 winters.
Spring lasts about 3 weeks. It starts in the May right around Mothers day.
Our summers get into the 80s with an occasional 90 degree temp for about a month.
It gets below zero consistently on non El Nino years. This year it has only been below zero twice. Last year we had 30 plus degrees below zeo temps. for a few weeks and stayed below zero for a couple months.
For us a day like today that is 28 degrees in January is downright balmy.
Autumn is short also. About 3 weeks too. It starts dipping below freezing in October here.
So all in all I get around a 4 month growing season.
No need to cold stratify any native tree seeds here. Red maple and elm seeds sprout almost as soon as they hit the ground. I'm constantly pulling red maple seedlings like weeds out of all of my containers.

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  MKBonsai on Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:06 pm

Jay,

My advice (bearing in mind you're in the UK) is:

If you have a space outside - put the seedtray/pots outside now and wait - if they're going to sprout they should do so in the next 2-3 months. It may be that some will only sprout in 2017 if they haven't been temp cycled enough to break the dormancy this year. Also, yield could be low - it can be very variable however and fairly unpredictable as it depends on where the seed has come from and how old it is, so be prepared for variable results.

I get my seed grown trees into the ground planted onto a tile or into catlitter tray size pots ASAP - this helps them grow and flare much more rapidly.

Good luck - let us know how you get on!

JT - MKBonsai

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  james_smith on Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:54 pm

What I have never understood.. Why go through the hassle of fridge-stratification? Why do you not pot them up in fall, and place them outside for winter?

You absolutely can stratify them outside over the winter. Temperature is temperature, whether caused by nature or an appliance. Here's why you may want to use a fridge instead:

- You have full control over the timing and conditions using a fridge, grow lights, and heat mats
- You don't have to deal with animals in a fridge (mice, birds, squirrels, cats using flats as a litter box, etc)
- You may not have the climate conditions required to break dormancy
- You control the moisture level of the stratification medium
- There are fewer fungal spores floating around in a fridge compared with outside

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:14 pm

james_smith wrote:What I have never understood.. Why go through the hassle of fridge-stratification?

james_smith wrote:  Here's why you may want to use a fridge instead:

- You have full control over the timing and conditions using a fridge, grow lights, and heat mats
- You don't have to deal with animals in a fridge (mice, birds, squirrels, cats using flats as a litter box, etc)
- You may not have the climate conditions required to break dormancy
- You control the moisture level of the stratification medium
- There are fewer fungal spores floating around in a fridge compared with outside

those sound like pretty good reasons to you, eh ? scratch

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Jesse on Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:45 pm

james_smith wrote:
Here's what I do:

  • Soak the seeds 24 hours in warm water (don't mix species)
  • Find sandwich bags
  • Write the species, date and required stratification time on the bag (don't overlook this step!)
  • BARELY wet sphagnum moss, place in plastic sandwich bags
  • Add the seeds to the sphagnum moss
  • Place in fridge
  • Mark your calendar
  • Wait
  • Start checking the bags for white root tips close to the due-date
  • Plant

I do not water during stratification.
The seeds have absorbed all the water that they need until germination during the soak.

Thank you for this.  One clarification for my own sake and it is a stupid and novice question to be sure Embarassed  Are the sandwich bag seeds then zip-locked shut or just the fold up type to allow some airflow?

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  kingsnake on Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:23 am

One clarification for my own sake and it is a stupid and novice question to be sure Embarassed  Are the sandwich bag seeds then zip-locked shut or just the fold up type to allow some airflow?

I haven't found it to make any difference, personally.  The only thing you have to worry about at that stage is preventing mold.  The seeds already have all of the moisture they need until germination (thanks to the pre-soak), so raising the humidity isn't an issue until there are roots to take up external moisure.  Overall the seeds are MUCH more tolerant of mistakes than you think!  Don't be afraid to try king

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:59 pm

Did anyone say the soil is supposed to be sterile.

Additionally read up at Bonsai4me for ground growing to speed up trunk thickening.
Laters
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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  kingsnake on Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:17 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Did anyone say the soil is supposed to be sterile.

Additionally read up at Bonsai4me for ground growing to speed up trunk thickening.
Laters
Khaimraj

True, but that's after stratification is done.  During stratification the biggest concerns are:


  1. Mold
  2. Something eating the seeds


After stratification is complete, providing bottom heat helps with germination rates.  Generally the optimal temperature is ~80F for many species.  A heat mat WITH A THERMOSTAT AND TEMPERATURE PROBE IN THE SOIL help for this.  Also covering the flats with cellophane will lock in humidity and increases germination rates in some species.  Personally, I surface-sow all species, pressing very gently on the seed to ensure good contact with the medium. I do not bury any of them. Some species need light to germinate, others dark.  For those that need light, use a grow lamp (LED or Fluorescent).  For those that need dark, you can just cover the flats with cardboard or a trash bag.  Germination generally will be in a couple days once stratification is complete, even at room-temperature.  As Khaimraj said, make sure you're using a sterile medium due to the next hurdle: damping off.  There are as many options as there are opinions.  If you need a recommendation, try vermiculite.

Once the seedlings emerge, the primary threat is damping off.  It's generally caused by a fungal infection at the soil surface, causing the stems to shrivel.  You can't see the fungus, only the effects.  It's a death-sentence for an infected plant.  There are a number of controls, ranging from perfectly safe (chamomile tea or cinnamon powder) to known carcinogens (Captan).  Cut the humidity way down (remove the cellophane).  Keep the seedlings spread far enough apart to keep the air flowing at the soil surface.  Using a heat mat will cut down on damping off, as will keeping the air circulating above the seedlings with an oscillating fan set to low.  Bottom-water only!  You don't want fungal spores to splash onto the stems.  Give plenty of light.  A bright window probably won't cut it.  Supplement.  Raise the light as the plants grow so you don't burn them.  If the stems are getting long and flopping over then they're probably not getting enough light.  If they're flopping over and the base of the stem is shriveled they're damping off.

When the stems begin to lignify you've made it past the threat of damping off.  Get them into the open sunlight as soon as temperatures permit.  Beware of sunburn, easing them out slowly.  You should see true leaves emerging.  You can start watering and feeding as usual.  You're now subject to the usual suspects in terms of pathogens.  Grow as you normally would.

That is why I recommend a controlled environment.  Hope this helps!

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Hi all thanks so much

Post  Bonsai Jay on Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:00 pm


Sorry for the delay, I for some reason found myself unable to sign in. Took a week to figue out I had to click alt 'P' or something.. lol
The number of replies are so unexpected, thanks to all of you. As I can see this post being lengthy, ill Bold your name and answer your questions.

I reckon this is week 3
So far all 10 species of 8 individual seeds have no signs of life at all. I have them at room temp (cool) and on the window sill where they get 4 hours of daylight? I continue to water daily with a mist spray so not to drown them.

Surprised James Smith - Wow, great advice, you really did my homework for me. It is much appreciated, however Id like to ask how did you come to know all this or could you recommend any modern books or more importantly one useful to a novice? Thanks for the research mate.

Laughing Fiona - I did not know there was anything like this place you described in Scotland, but cheers for telling me about the place in Kieth. its up the track a little but only an hour and half car journey. I will definitely need to check it out. Thank you cherry
Rolling Eyes Leatherback - I found a lot of Google searching for tutorials very confusing sometimes conflicting completely to another I read.
All I got with the seeds were a poorly translated few vague sentences. (plus, it never even occurred to me lol)

Fiona - You got me, yes, its definitely not Japanese. Its on a hand written smudge sticker so 'Juniper Chinensis' or 'Jumper Chinensis' lol
I also bought my seeds on Ebay as a 'starters bundle'. They took a while but they did come from China. Is there a more reliable place to buy seeds in the UK?

Cool MKBonsai - Thanks . I do have an outside space, but sadly nobody uses them due vandals and dogs left in them all day. So My options are mainly inside .

James Smith - I may try stratisfy a batch outside at the end of the year. Scotland's pretty cold.
lol @ Bbeer Snake - I need a way bigger fridge to try this again inside.

Anyway Thanks very much for all the great input. Smile
Jaimie


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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  fiona on Tue Feb 09, 2016 11:04 pm

Bonsai Jay wrote:
I also bought my seeds on Ebay as a 'starters bundle'. They took a while but they did come from China. Is there a more reliable place to buy seeds in the UK?
 I'm not sure how to word this in case I insult you, but you do realise there is no such thing as "bonsai seed"?  Bonsai are just regular trees that have undergone the horticultural/artistic process we call bonsai-ing.  I'd personally be wary of anything called Bonsai Seed and doubly so if it came from China.  You have to recognise early on that there are a load of crooks in this industry. I buy my tree seeds from places like Chiltern Seeds.  btw, I notice that a number of the trees in your new batch are outdoor trees. Be wary in the years to come.

Also, please bear in mind that one of the reasons we don't recommend growing from seed as an introduction to bonsai is because where you live, you will have a wait of a minimum of five years before any of your seeds are at a stage when you can even begin to consider using bonsai techniques on them.

Good luck with them though.

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Lol

Post  Bonsai Jay on Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:04 pm

Yeah I know, I found out when I search "Bonsai seeds' on Ebay and thought WOW! this cant be right? This is not what Miyagi gave to 'Daniel sun'. at all Sad Granted, it took almost an hour to get it figured out. Laughing

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  kingsnake on Thu Feb 11, 2016 6:04 pm

Bonsai Jay wrote:
Sorry for the delay, I for some reason found myself unable to sign in. Took a week to figue out I had to click alt 'P' or something.. lol
The number of replies are so unexpected, thanks to all of you. As I can see this post being lengthy, ill Bold your name and answer your questions.

I reckon this is week 3
So far all 10 species of 8 individual seeds have no signs of life at all. I have them at room temp (cool) and on the window sill where they get 4 hours of daylight? I continue to water daily with a mist spray so not to drown them.

Surprised James Smith - Wow, great advice, you really did my homework for me. It is much appreciated, however Id like to ask how did you come to know all this or could you recommend any modern books or more importantly one useful to a novice?  Thanks for the research mate.

Laughing Fiona - I did not know there was anything like this place you described in Scotland, but cheers for telling me about the place in Kieth. its up the track a little but only an hour and half car journey. I will definitely need to check it out. Thank you cherry
Rolling Eyes Leatherback - I found a lot of Google searching for tutorials very confusing sometimes conflicting completely to another I read.
All I got with the seeds were a poorly translated few vague sentences. (plus, it never even occurred to me lol)

Fiona - You got me, yes, its definitely not Japanese. Its on a hand written smudge sticker so 'Juniper Chinensis' or 'Jumper Chinensis' lol
I also bought my seeds on Ebay as a 'starters bundle'. They took a while but they did come from China. Is there a more reliable place to buy seeds in the UK?

Cool MKBonsai - Thanks . I do have an outside space, but sadly nobody uses them due vandals and dogs left in them all day. So My options are mainly inside .

James Smith - I may try stratisfy a batch outside at the end of the year. Scotland's pretty cold.
lol @ Bbeer Snake - I need a way bigger fridge to try this again inside.

Anyway Thanks very much for all the great input. Smile
Jaimie


Hi Jaimie,

Sorry for the delayed response. I too have been having trouble logging in (it accepts the username/password but doesn't actually log me in). Anyhow, that's not the point.

I learned by trying, figuring out what went wrong, learning potential fixes, and trying them next time. I've spoken with garden centers, farmers, and vendors; searched online; read books, magazines, and scientific publications.

A good book would be The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture by Michael A. Dirr. In it he covers each species including stratification requirements and germination percentages. Another equally good resource is the seed vendor themselves (assuming they're not some fly-by-night on ebay). Look for ones that sell to professionals, such as forestry services, laboratories, etc if you're looking for advice!

You can certainly try letting winter handle the stratification requirements for you. I don't know enough about your climate to say one way or the other. Just keep in mind that temperatures above a certain level reverse the process, sending the seed back into dormancy. If you have too many spring-like days it may not work as you anticipated. The "optimal" temperature for cold stratification is ~40F, hence the fridge.

If you're seeing no signs of life, try applying bottom heat. Placing them on top of a fridge may do the trick if you don't have a heating mat. The roots will be growing before you ever see stems. In fact, the roots should begin growing while still in cold stratification (assuming they're not frozen). Try digging up a seed or two if you like, and check if they're putting out roots. Make sure the seed doesn't rot, nor does the soil completely dry out. Hence the cellophane covering to lock in humidity.

Daylight is only relevant prior to germination if the seed either requires light to germinate or requires absence of light. Otherwise, the number of hours prior to germination is irrelevant. After germination, however, 4 hours through a window probably isn't going to cut it. The stems will probably reach and become too long to support themselves. You may want to supplement with either fluorescent tubes or Halogen or LED grow lights. Or simply time the stratification so that germination takes place in the Spring.

Good luck. Please keep us posted!

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Bonsai Jay on Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:20 pm

RE: Kingsnake -
Thanks for the input. Currently, its been approx 90 days in with no signs of life continuing. I have read that sometimes if seeds are not satrified properly that they will usually germinate the following season. I have moved the seed trays to a shelf that maintains 17°c - 26°c temperature, as well as 300w dual spectrum growth light on a timed 8hrs ON - 4hrs OFF cycle. I thought about keeping it on 24hrs but I find through the daytime it has to be off to prevent exceeding my 26°c max target. Ive checked and all my species of seed can survive at those temp ranges.

I think I may need to begin again a new batch and follow a strict plan of cold stratification, soil components and watering regime.  flutter eyelashes

Jamse: IS the moss really necessary? as thats something else I never did... I put it in a ziplock bag in a damp kitchen towel.

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Re: Novice Stratification of 10 different Bonsai species

Post  Leo Schordje on Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:15 pm

Hi, James Smith gave you great advice, I follow pretty much follow his system.

I have one suggestion. Generally, if your refrigerator is colder than 40 F, when seed start to show roots I don't worry about it. At temps below 40 the root may grow to a point, but then germination will pause. I put my seed into the refrigerator and keep them there until it is safe to plant them outdoors. An extra couple months in the refrigerator is not an issue for the majority of species. (there are a few exceptions, but not many) Growing seedlings indoors for me has always resulted in weak growth that take a couple seasons of outdoor growing to overcome. Sowing into flats and putting them outdoors directly has always given me better results.

Damp paper towel works just as well as sphagnum moss. With moss, if you get seeds that have developed some root, you can plant the moss with the seed. Paper towel, if the roots grow through the towel, you will end up either planting little bits of paper towel, or breaking and tearing new roots trying to remove the paper towel. I just plant bits of paper towel when roots have grown through the towel. Not a problem, just looks ugly.

Chiltern Seed, mentioned by Fiona is an excellent seed company. Quality of seed is important. Some seed if stored properly will be viable for a decade or more. Many seeds loose viability quickly even if stored properly. The better seed companies know how to store seed properly, and will discard seed that is below 50% germination. Some will discard seed if germination drops below 70%. Often they will state their quality level clearly in the "About" information on the site. Fly by night operations will often buy up out of date seed cheap, and then resell the seed on Ebay and other places. For seed I always go direct to a major seed company if possible.
Two reliable seed suppliers in the EU and a couple others that are reliable.

Chiltern Seed - UK based http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/
B & T Seed - France - http://b-and-t-world-seeds.com/

Silver Hill Seed - South Africa - I believe importing seed from SA to EU is relatively easy. http://www.silverhillseeds.co.za/
Sheffeilds Seed - USA based https://sheffields.com/
Schumacker Seed - USA based [url]https://www.treeshrubseeds.com/[url]

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