The optimal time for germination of a seed depends on environmental conditions of its habitat, the life cycle of the germinating plant, and the conditions for successful establishment, growing and reproduction. We studied the germination behaviour of the alpine annual Euphrasia minima and an alpine ecotype of E. salisburgensis in a lowland garden experiment. Seeds of both species and their hybrids germinated at constant (5 °C) and at varying temperatures (3–10 °C), and never before spring after seed ripening. Germination was spread over 3 years, which suggests that the seeds formed a persistent seed bank. The two species together with E. minima and E. minima hybrids differed significantly in the germination rate in the first and second spring.