The Q&A Archives: Germinating Clianthus

Question: I've received some Clianthus (puniceus) red kaka beak seeds and was wondering how to germinate them. I know that they are hard shelled seeds so they would probably need to be soaked or nicked or both. Do they require any other kind of special treatment and what season should one germinate the seeds?

Answer: Clianthus puniceus, the Parrot Beak, is an evergreen shrublike vine, native to New Zealand. It grows best in partial shade and appreciates light, moist soil. Mix some organic matter in if your soil is heavy. The plant blooms in June and hassweet-pea shaped flowers with 3-inch parrot-beak keels that swing down between the leaves. You can germinate your seeds now and transplant into the garden this summer. The seeds have a hard coat so treat them to an overnight soaking to help soften the seed coat. Use very hot water, drop the seeds in, and let it cool naturally. After 24 hours the seeds should plump up. If they don't, carefully prick with a pin and return them to the water. They will absorb water within a few hours. After they've plumped up, plant them just barely under the surface of moistened potting soil. Cover the container with clear plastic wrap and keep them at 65F - 70F degrees. The seeds should germinate in 14-42 days. As soon as they've sprouted, remove the plastic wrap and place them under a source of bright light. You can transplant them into individual containers when they've developed three sets of leaves.

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