Propagation forum: Paper towel - fridge - then what?

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Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Dec 11, 2012 1:19 AM CST
Hello,
I have about 2-3 kinds of seeds in wet paper towels and in plastic bags and in fridge.
I check them regularly.
The Fritillaria persica seeds have plumped up, are thick, and yesterday I was curious enough to open the bag, lift the paper towel and checked.
At least one of the seeds got a tiny white pointy root. Really tiny, but it's there.
What happens next?
Should I just leave them there till spring?

Is there any danger of rotting if left like this for too long?
I wouldn't like to pot them now...I have no room! But if I have to...

(I also have same seeds in trays, pots, on the balcony in freezing conditions and also in the fridge)
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Dec 13, 2012 8:14 PM CST
I'm also perennialy short of room to pot up into. I lose more seedlings that way! Also, I usually start in trays of cells or propagation trays, not paper towels. I usdually think of the "paper towel/baggie" method as a way to break dormancy (stratification for difficult, fussy perennial seeds.

My belief is that anything showing any root has started metabolising and cionsuming its seed resources. My opinion is that as soon as possible, the roots want soil and the seed leaves will need light as soon as they appear. Also, a fridge is cold and dark. Most seedlings I know grow better between 55 and 75 or 80, than they do in the dark at 40F (4 C). But I mostly start crops and other annuals,.

On the other hand, I have more experience killing seeds than with getting adult plants established. My failure is usually to leave them in a propagation cell or small pot too long. But I believe that a paper towel and baggie in a fridge is even worse for a seedling than too little root zone in potting soil.

Pot up early and often! (But if anyone else offers advice, they probably have more SUCCESSFUL experience than I do.

I tried to find Dr Deno's advice, but found more details about specific species than general guidance about how soon to move to pots. But he did have a lot to say about keeping pots humid but aerobic by "bagging them in thin Baggies loosely closed. (NOT thick Zip-locs with closed zippers!


Extracts From Deno's "Seed Germination, Theory And Practice"

p.13-14
"high wet strength paper towel ... perforated section of paper towel is torn off and folded in half three times in alternating directions to give a rectangular pad 2.5 x 4.5 inches."

" Fold the Baggie several times so that evaporation of water from the towel is inhibited, yet leaving ample access to air to insure aerobic conditions."

"A special warning is made about certain brands of paper towels that are
advertised for their softness. These become mushy very quickly. It is important to use
high wet strength paper towels, and the plain white type are preferred."

"Also a special warning against Ziploc bags and other polyethylene bags that are of thicker polyethylene film and are constructed to seal tightly. Polyethylene film is permeable to oxygen but not water (even though water is the smaller molecule) so that by using the thinner polyethylene, the permeablility of the film to oxygen helps maintain aerobic conditions."

"The paper towels remain moist for periods of months and only need to be
remoistened at periods of two months or longer. The towels are inspected and the
germinated seeds counted at least once every seven days and as often as each day if
germination is occurring at a rapid rate."

Also see pages 55 and 56.
--

Persistent URLs for Dr. Deno's book
"Seed Germination, Theory And Practice"
and supplements:

http://hdl.handle.net/10113/41278 (1993)
http://hdl.handle.net/10113/41279 (1996)
http://hdl.handle.net/10113/41277 (1998)

Those are permanent links to reach specific documents at this website:
http://agspace.nal.usda.gov/
National Agricultural Library (NAL)
NAL Digital Repository
Digital Documents Repository (DDR)
"AgSpace": a centralized location for USDA publications

under:
Other Agricultural Collections
Other Agricultural Research and Information

---

Another germination link I like:
http://tomclothier.hort.net/

P.S. When I do germinate seeds on wet paper, I use one layer of thin coffee filter in a glass bowl, and nest several of those together. They nest loosely, so I have to water every few days. But I have to check for roots every day, so no problem.

Why don't I do it Deno's way? I started my way decades ago when I did a little indoor growing, and now I'm set in my ways. Also, I don't have to start 100 samples at the same time, or keep them for months. If a seed is THAT hard to start, I'll grow other things until I'm so jaded and have so much time on my hands that I WANT a challenge.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Feb 17, 2014 3:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Dec 14, 2012 2:03 AM CST
Wow Rick.
Thanks... a real story!
I only resort to this paper towel thing when either I have exhausted all other methods (and since my trader was very generous I had more than enough seeds).
And then, after sowing in pots, garden, more pots I decided to give a small towel a try :)

OR when it's specifically mentioned as the best germination method.

Problem is now, when I get home it's dark and despite the lights in the apt, I can't see much. (especially if I'm looking for tiny signs of germination).
I'll check this Saturday.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Dec 14, 2012 1:59 PM CST
Good luck!

My guess is that once the root is visible, they will be happier in some kind of potting mix than on paper, even if the container is small.

For example, a Dixie cup, or cut-off soda bottle. Tin can. Chinese food container. Sandwich baggie.
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Dec 30, 2013 11:35 AM CST
When the seeds germinate, they need to be removed from the paper towel/baggie and planted in potting mix, and also placed under light. You can reduce work for yourself by avoiding temporary solutions (like Dixie cups, egg shells, etc.) and planting the sprouted seeds in reasonably-sized pots to let them grow to the size at which they can then be transplanted to the garden. I use the plastic pots I've accumulated (in huge number! Rolling my eyes. ) from buying plants - 4" plastic pots for border perennials and 2 1/2" pots for alpines.
[Last edited by growitall - Dec 30, 2013 4:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 19, 2014 9:17 AM CST
I agree with Lori and Rick.
Once there are roots showing---pot them up!
Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Jan 20, 2014 1:11 AM CST
Well, I think I have given up this method.
I just can't see any benefits. WHY is it better then just sowing in pots?
No idea...
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 20, 2014 11:32 AM CST
It just saves space.
But sometimes it is easier to see changes against a white paper towel rather than against a dark soil.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Jan 20, 2014 11:50 AM CST
I have used this method with iris and daylily seeds. Soak the seed for a few days, put them on a wet paper towel and sprinkle with a little Root-tone which acts as a fungicide. Fold up the packet and then fold it up in a piece of foil. Then into a sealable baggie and into the vegetable keeper in the frig. I check them in a couple of months. One year I let them go to long and the roots were growing into the paper towel and seeds with roots were difficult to remove.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 20, 2014 2:02 PM CST
I think Deno used it for seeds that he had to stratify for months. It let him keep them uniformly moist and cold or alternating cold/warm without constantly watering pots.

Also, he could put dozens (or hundreds?) into one fridge.

If I did it more often, it would be to avoid mold and be able to see clearly when something started to emerge.

I do it mostly for germination tests.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Jan 21, 2014 12:07 AM CST
Yes, it is good for testing old seeds without using good soil and pots.
Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Jan 21, 2014 12:40 AM CST
Oh yes, testing makes sense :)
And saving space, too.

Paul, it would be interesting if you forgot about your seeds until they actually bloom through the top of the veggie compartment.

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Jan 21, 2014 10:02 AM CST
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jan 21, 2014 12:09 PM CST
>> Paul, it would be interesting if you forgot about your seeds until they actually bloom through the top of the veggie compartment.

That's what I call FRESH vegetables! Straight from the veggie compartment to the veggie compartment.
Name: Terri Hamilton
Rockford, Illinois (Zone 5b)
Butterflies Organic Gardener Composter Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Level 1
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holity
Mar 1, 2014 6:47 PM CST
Interesting, I only ever heard of the paper-towel-on-fridge method for testing seed viability!
My blog, which occasionally talks about gardening: http://holity.blogspot.com/
Name: Blankspace
California
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Blankspace
Apr 13, 2014 9:38 PM CST
I normally do the paper towel zip lock bag but place them in a warm location. I usually use my Kuerig coffee maker since it gets really warm. My seeds usually sprouts the tap root quite quickly. Then i would pot them in seed starting mix. I havent tried putting them in the fridge before.

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