Containers • Plastic is best! • Easy to clean and re-use • Durable • Can use clay • heavy, breakable, & salts build up • Can use untreatedwood like cedar • Treated wood contains arsenic and/or copper which is toxic to plants
Containers • Can use paper • Biodegradable • Flimsey • Can use wood fiber/peat • Biodegradable • Can use coir • Biodegradable, coconut fiber, renewable resource • Can use peat pellets • Both “pot” and media in one! • Biodegradable if you use the kind without plastic mesh
Media • For seed: • Use a “clean” germination mix • Use a mix designed for seeds • Smaller particles for good seed contact • Need space for air and water • No fertilizer is necessary to start but timed-release fertilizer helps after germination • Wood/fiber/paper pots will need extra nitrogen • Microbes need a combination of both carbon and nitrogen
Different commercially-available seed germination mixes Zinnias Obviously, not all germination media are the same! Ones on the left had no time-release “starter” fertilizer and those on the right did!
Media • Components • Organic: peat, bark, sphagnum moss, coir, compost, composted rice hulls • Inorganic: mineral components for drainage and aeration • Sand (only horticultural sand, play sand has ocean salt!) • Perlite (for aeration, white in color like “pearly white teeth”, made from volcanic rock) • Vermiculite (for aeration & moisture-holding & nutrient exchange, tan in color-made from mica rock)
Peat bog in Canada Harvester
Peat harvesters at work Peat is a slowly-renewable resource
Soilless potting mix is a combo of peat perlite vermiculite
Seed Collection • Most seeds should be collected on a sunny, dry day, in mid-day (after the dew has dried up) • Seeds can be collected in paper envelopes or brown paper bags • Capsules that split open should have a bag placed over them several days before they split so that seeds are not lost
Seed Collection • If seed is enclosed in a fruit, you must remove the fruit first • Fruit can be soaked to soften and then removed by hand • Seed will NOT germinate if planted in a fleshy fruit!
Storage • Most seeds can be stored as follows: • Cool (refrig. For short term, Freezer for long term, exceptions would be water-filled seeds of tropical plants) • Dry (air dry but not in direct sun!) • Dark • Consistent • Sealed wax paper or foil pouch best • Freezer storage bags wrapped in aluminum • Remember to LABEL!!
Seeds • Seeds can have different type of needs to properly germinate • 1.) Ready to germinate… just give proper conditions • 2.) Needs to have the seed coat abraded (scarification) • 3.) Needs to have a period of cool-moist (stratification) • Needs both 2 & 3
Scarification • This can be done by: • Using a file • Using sandpaper
Scarification • This can be done by: • Using a rock tumbler filled with grit or lined with sandpaper
Stratification • This can be done by: • In a zip-lock type baggie • Placing seeds in vermiculite or sand • Add water and drain off excess • Place in a refrigerator • Generally 1 - 3 months • Depends on where the plant is native to