Day length control can effectively limit seed germination to favorable seasons, but this phenomenon has been studied in relatively few wild plants. I tested species from interior Alaska for day length control of germination under controlled conditions, and I also monitored germination phenology in natural habitats. Unstratified and cold-stratified seeds were germinated on short (13 h) and long (22 h) day length and in the dark at constant and alternating temperatures. On long day length, unstratified Ledum decumbens and Saxifraga tricuspidata seeds germinated from 5??C to 20??C, but on short day length few or no seeds germinated at 5??C and 10??C and germination was reduced at higher temperatures. Unstratified seeds of Diapensia lapponica and Chamaedaphne calyculata germinated only at 15??C and 20??C on long day length, and short day length completely inhibited germination. Cold stratification widened the temperature range for germination on both long and short day lengths, but germination was still lower on short than long day length. Germination phenology in natural habitats was consistent with germination in controlled conditions. In these species, short day length and low temperatures interact to inhibit germination in the fall. After overwintering, seeds germinate in the spring at low temperatures and on long day lengths. The inhibitory effect of short day length is not important in the spring because day length is already long at snowmelt.
Additional publication details
Effect of day length on germination of seeds collected in Alaska