The Hardy Orchid Society Seed Bank






The seed bank manager (Alan Leck - ) is always pleased to receive donations of good quality dry seed.  Such seed must, however, have been obtained with the appropriate permission.  We would expect the majority of donations to be derived from plants grown within membersí collections (NB Illegally acquired plants cannot produce legal seed!).  If seed is collected from the wild, this must be done with the written permission of the landowner.  Seed from Schedule 8 species cannot be collected within the UK without permission from Natural England or the Scottish and Welsh equivalents.




Ideally seed should be harvested on a dry day at, or just prior to, splitting of the seed capsule.  Seed capsules can be placed in paper (not plastic) bags.  If you harvest immature capsules for seed sowing yourself, please remember that it is not possible to store seed of immature capsules within the seed bank.




The seed bank manager would prefer to receive cleaned seed samples rather than seed plus capsules.  Seed can easily be separated from the seed capsule debris using a tea strainer.  Seed can then be placed in a paper (not polythene) envelope.  Seed can then be posted to the seed bank manager (see below for instructions), however, we would like to encourage donors to dry the seed first if possible.




Drying is a key component of successful long-term orchid seed storage.  Seed with a high moisture content can lose its viability very rapidly indeed.  Consequently, the sooner the seed is dried the better, and ideally it should be dried immediately it has been harvested.  This is easily achieved using dried rice, in an air-tight jar (Kilner jars are ideal) as in the illustration.

Any supermarket brand of rice will do.  To dry the rice, simply spread a thin layer in the bottom of a baking  tray, and dry in the oven at around 110 C for a couple of hours. 


It is important to remember that the rice requires regular regeneration as, with repeated use, it will itself gradually become increasingly moist.  The drying capacities (i.e. how much moisture it is capable of absorbing) of rice is also generally unknown, so you should use plenty of it, filling the jar at least three quarters full of dried rice. 


Seed should be left in the (desiccator) drying jar at room temperature for 2 or 3 days. Once dried, the seed can be placed in a sealed (preferably glass - seed tends to stick to plastic) container for postage.




Sending seed through the post


Franking machines are death to orchid seeds, they simply mash them to pieces.  Seed should be sent within some sort of crush-proof container (CD boxes are good), or something reasonably sturdy inside a padded envelope is good.


Identification of the donated seed


There is no way that the seed bank manager can know if the donated seed has been correctly identified.  Ideally donors should submit a good quality photograph of a flower, and perhaps one of the whole plant in flower too.  Photographs can be sent separately as an e-mail attachments, and colour prints or transparencies can also be scanned.


Requests for Seed


An up-to-date list of seed accessions is provided on the website

Seed is only available to members of the Hardy Orchid Society, and requests should be sent to the seed bank manager (Alan Leck - ), quoting your HOS membership number. 


The charge is £1.50 for postage and packing, plus 50p per packet of seed.  Unfortunately we are unable to guarantee the viability of the seed, or that the seed will still be available when your order is received.

Cheques should be made payable to the Hardy Orchid Society.  Please send a cheque without the amount box filled in.  In the space for Amount in Words write "Not to exceed £x.xx" where £x.xx is the total if all your requests can be met.  The Seed Bank Officer will write in the total amount, reduced if necessary.