The Q&A Archives: When Are Impatien Seeds Ripe

Question: when harvesting impatien seeds, i noticed some are white and some are brown. are they both usable or is one not ripe? also once harvested, say in September, how should they be stored until the following april for indoor seed starting? do you have tips for starting them?

Answer: Impatiens have ripened seed capsules that will actually burst open spew out their seeds! The best way to collect them is to tie paper bags over the capsules as soon as they change color to catch seeds. Punch a few holes in the bag to provide circulation. Remove it as soon as the seeds have been "ejected."

However, don?t save seed from hybrid plants, because when planted it will not mature identical to the parent plant. (A hybrid plant is produced by cross pollinating two different parent plants.) Hybrid plants are labeled as such on seed packets and in catalog descriptions.

Collect seeds on dry, sunny days to avoid any excess moisture. If needed, dry seeds completely on sheets of newspaper for a week or so. Dispose of stems and leaves. A screen or colander works well to remove chaff. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

Germination requires soil temperatures of about 70 degrees and they require light to germinate (i.e., sprinkle on top of the soilless potting mix). Keep consistently moist but not overly wet, as impatiens is prone to damping off disease. Germination takes about 15 days. Good luck!

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