Different species of plants possess different requirements for germination. The ones most people are familiar with are the easy to grow ones… marigolds, beans, etc . Usually, annuals are the easiest: sow at the proper depth, provide consistent dampness and warmth and viola! You might have seedlings. Annuals live one year plus die. They usually profusely seed plus their goal is to quickly germinate when conditions are right simply because they only have one shot at duplication. They need to germinate quickly, grow quickly, and reproduce quickly (flower). These types of seeds contain very little if any kind of germination inhibitor. The most important criteria with regard to planting this kind of seed is getting the planting depth correct. Some seeds need light to germinate. Their own seeds should be sown on the surface and not covered with soil. Sowing depth is information provided on the seeds packet. If not, the general rule is not to cover seeds more than 3 times their own diameter. For really tiny seeds, just press into the soil plus water gently.
Stratification Then, there are the seeds which require particular treatment. Many perennials and biennials need certain conditions in order to germinate. These are adaptations to continue its varieties in the climate it lives in. Perennials and biennials, which come from cold climates, often need the unique treatment called stratification to overcome seed dormancy. I find perennials often have, within one batch of seed, various amounts of dormancy.
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This really is so only a few may germinate right away and the rest become part of the seed bank in the soil to provide baby plants in the future. An insurance policy of sorts against something happening to the stand associated with plants. This isn’t a very handy technique to deal with if you want to grow a lot of plant life from the seeds. Often perennial seed needs stratification to either result in germination to happen or it unifies and improves germination. The easiest way in order to stratify seeds is to sow them in the fall in the place they are to grow. Let nature take care of it. Another way, is to sow the seed within a container that can be covered with plastic material and put in the fridge or simpler still, the seed is put in a plastic bag with moist peat or sand and a touch of cinnamon to inhibit mold growth and this is put into the fridge for the required time. Occasionally, it’s only a week, sometimes it’s a few months, sometimes they need to stay in the particular fridge until they germinate. In most cases, you may need to freeze the seed for the certain length of time.
Sometimes seeds only have a partially developed embryo so they need a period of warmth, then chilly, then warm again. The length of time differs by species that have this type of dormancy.
Soaking. Some seeds require soaking in warm water to induce seeds germination. Many of the legumes need this. Wild sweet peas, lupines, plus locust tree seeds all should be soaked before sowing to improve germination. Plant all that swell. Check every day because they can actually swell too much plus die. Ones that do not get bigger, either are dead or latent. You can try the next method to help improve germination of the latent ones.
Scarification is another seed treatment that is sometimes necessary to get seeds to germinate. Several seeds need to have water impermeable hard seed coats abraded or nicked to allow water to get into the seed to start the germination process. This could be done with a knife, sandpaper, or perhaps a file. Only go into the seed coating until you see light, some shade of white, material. Also, the majority of seeds have an indentation where the embryo is. Do not make this nick close to the indentation because you may damage the embryo and the seed will pass away. I like to scarify on the ends or the opposite side of the indentation. Then the usual procedure is to soak the seed in water. Seeds which come from fruit often need this sort of treatment. There are seeds from fresh fruit which need to pass through a parrot or animal digestive tract. Strong acids in the gut damage the seeds coat. Most people do not have access to strong acids to do this and physical scarification may be the only practical method.
Another method is to soak the seeds in a plant hormone that will induce seed germination. Again, most people don’t have access to this chemical and the subsequent can be used as an alternative.
Natural wood smoke cigarettes has been found to stimulate seed germination. The wood from the seeds’ environment works the best, but some other smoke may be just as valuable. Smoke cigarettes discs can be purchased, liquid smoke flavor, or catching smoke from a fireplace on a damp cloth, are all practical means of obtaining smoke. There are compounds in the smoke which overcome dormancy, as if a fire just passed through their own environment and the landscape needs repopulating with plants.
Some seeds need a combination of all these methods. How is anyone to know what a seed needs to germinate? There is an incredible website put together simply by Tom Clothier (search by that name) that is a huge data base of species and their requirements. Other sources are seed packets, yet I’ve often seen them listing sowing conditions which will not result in germination. It’s best to check another supply.