Water availability regulates timing of germination, especially in those environments where it is a limiting factor. However, the water requirements for germination of most wild Mediterranean species are unknown. In this work we analysed the germination response to water stress of eight Cistaceae species with hard-coated seeds, which are typical for the Mediterranean shrublands. Seeds were exposed to a heat shock in order to overcome physical dormancy and then incubated under five water potentials (0, −0.2, −0.4, −0.6 and −0.8 MPa). Ungerminated seeds following these treatments were transferred to water in order to evaluate the recovery of germination. Additionally, at the end of the experiment, viability of still ungerminated seeds was examined. We analysed final germination percentage, time to reach 50% of the final germination (t
50), recovery of germination and seed viability in relation to water stress treatments. Furthermore, hydrotime analysis was performed; sensitivity to water stress, as characterized by Ψb(50), was checked in relation to seed size of species. Overall, water stress delayed and decreased germination but species showed different germination sensitivities, which were not related to seed size. Recovery of germination was high after disappearance of water stress but seed viability decreased in some species. Consequently, post-fire germination of Cistaceae must be strongly regulated by water availability and their seeds can recover germination capacity when sufficient water is available after long periods of incomplete hydration. However, some seeds die during the wait.