Research & Development – Seed Germination

Here at Wildflower Turf HQ we are constantly striving to improve our offering and providing our customers with the highest quality of Wildflower Turf. Part of this process is something that happens long before the turf even leaves our premises and ensures we are using all the best components we can! Research & Development at our main site in Hampshire is thriving and we continue to develop our understanding and improve our learning, so that we can constantly improve our products and services.

Probably the most fundamental part of our turf is the seeds we use. Seeds are some of the most fascinating parts of a plant, and when you look at them closely they have a beauty all of their own. We work with a wide range of species, the images below show just a few of these and how different the seeds can be.

Close up of Sainfoin seeds
Close up of White Campion seeds

Plant seeds are complex, and many of them require different optimal conditions to move from dormancy to germination. This is the process we are currently examining more closely, to achieve the best results for the turf. In the past few years we have started to look in greater detail at the smaller details which can often be overlooked. Purchased wildflower seeds do not currently carry any certification that will guarantee seed viability, quality or expected levels of germination. Here at Wildflower Turf, we are striving to establish high standards for ourselves. Analysis of the seeds we use starts with the species germination potential, our secondary objective is to determine the methods best used to quick start the germination.

Examples of germinated seeds. As each seed is counted it is removed from the plate to avoid being counted again.

To try and achieve the best results possible, we test the seed with standard germination tests, counting out a known number of seeds, providing optimum growing conditions and over a number of days record the number of seeds that germinate and gain an understanding of the potential. Until the right conditions for growth are met, the seeds remain dormant, once the right conditions are achieved, germination is triggered. To start with water and oxygen are the main requirements, this activates enzymes in the seed which in turn start the initial root (radicle) growth. At this stage the seed is using stored food, hydrated by the absorbed water until the roots are large enough to absorb nutrients from the surrounding environment.

Close up of poppy seeds

By understanding the successful germination potential of the seeds used, we can create a more guaranteed balance of species in the turf, helping to ensure one species does not over dominate. Another reason for doing this is to try and gain an understanding of the best treatments to give the seed prior to inclusion in the turf or Meadowscape Pro. Some seeds require specific conditions to break the dormancy, and if these are not met, the seeds will not grow. Even if the seed is the best quality with high viability, if the right conditions are not achieved, they will not grow.

The valuable information we have gained so far is enabling us to make changes on site for storage and treatment of the seeds before they are used in our turf. As our research continues, we are aiming to improve our use and treatment of seeds so that our turf can have a larger number of successfully flowering plants developing in more harmonious balance with each other.

We look forward to continuing to share our research results through more learning and education and of course, higher quality products so you can continue to create beautiful, successful wildflower spaces long into the future!

Dr. Janine Robinson  – Head of Research & Development