As a first-time daylily seed starter I wanted to find the 'best' way to start my seeds.  I did some research on the internet and asked a lot of questions.  Some of the seeds I purchased from the Lily Auction even came with little instruction sheets and recipes for soaking.  So, I began with, and moved on through...

The 'Soak' Method

The 'Peat Baggie' Method

The 'Jiffy Peat Pellet' Method

If you followed the links then you know by now that my results were less than I'd hoped for and I was beginning to get discouraged enough to stop buying seeds for a while.  I didn't see the point if I couldn't turn them into plants.  That's when Lynn in Midland, Texas suggested that I needed to talk to Eric West in Cincinnati, Ohio about his method.  To see his photos, click ---> HERE

Drum roll please...

The 'On The Rocks' Method


  • Small containers with lids 

    I use translucent Dixie brand 2oz container purchased from my local pizza place.  They use them for dipping sauces and salad dressings.  They sold me 400 cups and lids for $13.  This size is ideal for any number of seeds up to a max of 9-10.  Larger containers (like those used in bulk stores for peanut butter) would hold more seeds of the same cross.  Taller containers could be kept covered for a longer period of time.  Any clear or translucent container with lid will work.  If you use all of the same container it will work better for stacking.

  • Small stones

I purchased fish gravel from Wal-Mart, comes in a wide range of colors but I chose to stay away from the dyed stones.  I can't say they'll harm anything because they don't seem to bother fish but I was more comfortable with the natural stones.  The added bonus was the contrast to the black seeds and green leaves for photos.

  • Tweezers, eye dropper or syringe

The tweezers help to place the seeds spaced slightly apart.  The eye dropper or syringe is an easy way to add tiny bits of water.  The amount of water to be added is in direct relation to how many times you removed the cover to peek.  I added water fairly often because (a) I'm nosey; and (b) I had them under hot photo lighting for about 15 minutes a day. 

  • Seeds

Daylily seeds are used in this example but it also works for Iris and Hosta seeds.  I have done this with Blackberry Lily seeds and Caster beans as well.  (See Test #3)

  • Distilled Water

I was told to use Miracle Grow fertilizer at a rate of 1/4 teaspoon to a gallon of water.  However, the seedling do not need fertilizer until they have 2-4 leaves.  Just start with distilled water.


  1. Mark container with ID of cross

  2. Place stones in the bottom of container

  3. Add distilled water just to top of stones

  4. Place seeds on stones - well spaced.

  5. Cover and place on window sill

Once the cover won't fit anymore you can;

  • Put the container into a plastic baggie.

  • Plant the tall ones and recover.

  • Just leave the cover off but water often.

Lather, rinse, repeat - and stack the cups as necessary

Eric's window in Cincinnati

You should not have to add water very often with the cover on.  Condensation will form on the lid and run back down to the rocks.

The seeds I started with were not very wrinkled (dry).  I would expect that with very dry seeds you would have to add a couple days to the front end time for the seeds to re-hydrate and swell back into their skins before the germination process begins.

If you see a seed starting to show mould inside your cup quickly remove the mouldy seed with your tweezers before other seeds are affected.  Wash your tweezers with an antibacterial soap after removal of the 'bad' seed.  Try to drain the water (in case its contaminated) from the cup and replace with fresh.

Test #1 - December 2, 2007

Test #2 - February 11, 2008

Test #3 - March 13-17, 2008

Test #4 - March, 2009 (Soil versus Rocks)

Test #5 - 2009, 2010, 2011 (Cell packs)