If the seeds are super small, the weather is cold but they like it hot and humid, or the species is new to my collection, then this is a method I always use in my trials. I also do other things like using the Large common or warm weather germination technique.
Depending on the rarity of the species I may even run a SMOKE and GA3 trial as well to further increase the odds of success.
For the warm climate or season germinating species, this method below is often more successful than traditional methods. It is a bit more work though requiring them to be checked at least once a day. It is particularly suited to germination of tiny little seeds as it prevents them from drying out too fast or washing away.
- I use normal 1itre plastic takeaway containers and I start with my standard sandy Soil Mix, then sieve it. I just use a cheap wire waste paper basket as the mesh is perfectly sized and it fits one bucket of dirt.
- Place the coarser stuff on the bottom of the container, then the very fine stuff ontop.
This allows good drainage and no chunks means no dry spots or objects blocking the path of the little tiny babies. Add the seeds and give it a squirt of water with a fine mist sprayer.Surface sow small seeds, poke in the big stuff like beans just below the surface, and DO NOT overwater or the lot will drown and rot. Aim for about 30ml water, 700ml soil, in each 1lt takeaway container. They are well sealed with no drainage holes so a single watering at the beginning is generally enough.
- Keep in a semi-shaded area, I just use a table sitting on the balcony.
Check it every single day, twice or even three times a day if possible. They grow incredibly fast in the containers(once germinated), and long thin weak twisted or burnt seedlings, are not what you want. These containers are for germination ONLY!
They are not for actual plant growth, so don’t be lazy, just get up and check them. Each standard full sized folding table(~$40) fits 60 x 1liter takeaway containers.
I use a red hot knife to melt a small slit in the edge of the lid, and thread a label on each container. You can just write on the lid, but this way I can reuse the containers, and the label goes with the seedlings when they get moved out later.
- The moment you have success the larger varieties get planted out in partial or even full sun, and the super small ones get planted out into the greenhouse or a very shaded protected area. The quicker they are transplanted the better, as a single thread or root comes out cleanly and undamaged. Mats or forked roots get tangled then damaged on removal and the longer they are in the moist sweaty conditions, the more risk of damping off fungi and root rot taking over, killing the delicate seedlings.
Check them very often and as soon as they are visible get them out, and into individual pots.
- If nothing happens after a couple of months don’t give up yet!
Containers that never germinate in those conditions get put in large labelled pots in the greenhouse then forgotten about. The method for that is to carefully remove the first ~2cm of topsoil from each container and put it aside as this contains the seeds.
- Then dump the bottom soil in a large pot, add a couple of handfuls of fresh soil mix and mix it really well.
Tap it down, then break up and sprinkle that saved top 2cm soil that has the seeds hiding in it over the top.
Water it all really well, blasting it and mixing it up a little bit as you do it.This rapid change in humidity and soil conditions can often be the trigger needed for the seeds to pop and the whole lot comes up immediately.
Sometimes nothing happens even after all that and you think they are a write-off, but the next hot dry spell, cold snap, or heavy rain is the trigger needed, and off they all go.
Sometimes they pop one at a time over many weeks or months.
Sometimes no real weather changes happen, yet they still surprise you and germinate many months later for no visible reason at all.
Fresh seeds of uncommon species often have natural germination inhibitors that need to be leached out or broken down, just like what happens in nature.
Many seeds are produced by plants, not for immediate use, but to sit dormant on the surface of the soil, waiting for the seasons to change, the rains to come, insects to crack and chew them, an animal to swallow and digest them, daylight hours to increase or decrease, or a million other things I can’t think of at the moment.
You get the idea…
In nature, there are really not that many plants that drop seeds with the sole purpose of them germinating immediately.
Some of the common heavily domesticated vegetables do, the stuff you see every day, but please note that I don’t really have an interest in those boring supermarket plants. For the rarer stuff I like to grow, this is one of the best methods!
Wild types of plants must be treated as such, and they will do whatever it is they do, whenever it is they decide they are ready to do it. I explain this in much more detail at this link about Seed Dormancy and how to remove it.
Seed dormancy is natural, but these humid little containers can often help bypass it.
- Failing that replanting months later can be the shock they need to kick into gear.
- Failing that changes in weather patterns can be the trigger.
- Failing that just basic time and patience can be all that is needed.
It is entirely dependent on the species and that is why it is important to read the information in the text of the advert.
This is why I say “Please read text!” in great big bold letters just below the price…
If it has special needs that I am aware of based on my own experiences growing it then I always say so very clearly in the advert. I make absolutely bugger all from a one time purchase and I need you to have success and come back happy, along with all your friends and family too! While I can never Guarantee germination of anything, by following my instruction you are increasing your odds of success.
After all, it works for me.
With me being a grower not just a reseller if it didn’t work I just wouldn’t have anything to sell to you guys in the first place!