Germination Of Seeds - Knowledgebase Question

Honolulu, HI
Question by kitokazu
August 18, 2000
After planting stringless beans-2 doz of them, only four seeds germinated and became seedlings. Later I planted another 2 doz seeds after soaking them and no plants after so many days. Why?


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Answer from NGA
August 18, 2000

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Without more detail, it's hard to determine what happened. Following is some info on sowing seeds that I hope will help you. The biggest problems with sowing seeds are sowing them too deeply, not sowing in warm soil, and not maintaining consistent soil moisture. The best thing to do to improve your success rate is to start with a sterilized potting mix. These mixes retain water better than soil from the garden and stay light and friable, allowing for easier germination and seedling development. There are many mixes available and most contain some combination of vermiculite, perlite, pumice, or milled sphagnum moss. Sterilized potting mixes also reduce the likelihood of a fungal disease called ?damping off,? which can spread through a flat of seedlings in no time. It causes stems to rot and seedlings to tip over at the base. Damping off can occur when non-sterile soil mediums or containers are used.

The soil should be moist (not wet) before sowing seeds. Some gardeners prefer to moisten the soil and then fill the containers. Others fill the containers and then moisten the soil. An easy way to accomplish that is to set the pot or flat in a larger container of water. The water will be absorbed through the drainage holes while you do other tasks.
Place in a bright, warm location. Once sown, don?t allow soil to dry out. Use room temperature water and apply it carefully so as not to dislodge seeds or knock over seedlings.

Sow to the depth recommended on the seed packet, or sow at two or three times the seed?s diameter. Tiny seeds are barely covered. Warm soil temperature is essential for consistent germination. Most seeds germinate in soil that is around 70 degrees Farenheit. Bottom-heating propagation mats are useful for maintaining warm soil. Seedlings won?t thrive if crowded, as they require both air circulation and light. When thinning crowded seedlings, snip the extras with scissors at the base of the plant rather than yanking them out. This helps prevent disturbance to developing root systems.

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