Getting a seed to germinate might seem simply enough for some gardeners, but some follow the rules to a tee and can’t seem to get anything to pop out of their shell. In today’s blog we delve in to the world of seed germination and find out what’s the best way to go from seed to seedling.
How Exactly Does Seed Germination Work?
Seeds are basically plant embryos covered in a nice warm jacket that’s made out of a nutrient rich material. This might strange but the reality of it is that the plant embryo is similar to a humans. For example, when the conditions are right, special chemical messengers found on the outside of the seed jacket will tell the embryo it’s time to start dividing. As this happens, extra energy is needed and this is where the nutrient rich jacket comes into play.
As the embryo uses more and more of the jacket, it then starts to grow a root in search for nutrients and oxygen. Then it quickly produces its first stem and leaves to begin receiving the the important energy of the sun.
Understanding this process and what the embryo needs to spring into life will drastically improve the chances of you growing a strong, large plant.
How To Germinate Seeds
First and foremost do your research.
They’re are so many different plants on the planet which means they’re so many different types of seeds, all needing different conditions to be able to germinate. For example, some seeds require a winterisation period which essentially puts the seed into hibernation until winter has finished. Other seeds have thicker jackets which mean they may need to be soaked before planting.
Depending on what plant you’re trying to grow, it’s important you research the conditions its seeds needs to germinate. If you’re unsure, you can test a few seeds out by either putting them in damp rock wool, a moist paper towel or directly into damp soil. If any start producing a root, you then have a general understanding of how to successfully germinate the seeds.
Provide The Perfect Environment For Your Seeds.
As with mature plants, seeds and seedlings need a source of water to be able to grow. If your seeds start to sprout and the medium they’re placed in drys out, I’m afraid to say that chances are they will dry out and die.
To ensure this doesn’t happen it is advisable to to use a substrate that retains water well like soil mixed with perlite or rock wool. Then preferably create a moisture barrier around the growing area by either placing the seeds in a propagator or wrapping a bit of plastic over the pot to keep the optimal humidity level.
Once you start seeing leaf production, it is safe to start removing the barrier from around the seedlings but make sure the growing medium remains moist.
To Fertilise Or Not To Fertilise …
A lot of the expert gardeners, who are good at germinating seeds, use a highly diluted form of fertiliser either whilst the seed is just germinating or when the seedling produces its first set of ‘proper’ leaves. This provides an extra boost of energy which can give the plant the best start in life. However, if you do not know what you’re doing and over feed you can cause the seedling to burn before it even leaves its protective jacket. With this in mind it’s imperative that you use a fertiliser sensibly and only use tried and tested dosages.
One of the main mistakes people make when dealing with seedlings is checking on them too much. For example, gardeners are known for checking a seed after a few days, seeing they’re not germinating, adding more water, moving them to a different location and removing the moisture barrier too early just in an attempt to make the seed grow quicker. This constant harassment can actually hinder the seedlings ability to grow as it will need to adapt to the changing environment.
So as a brief overview:
- Research what environment your seeds need to germinate,
- Provide seeds with the perfect amount of moister and humidity,
- Only use nutrients/fertilisers if you know what you’re are doing,
- Be patient and leave those seeds alone.