Planting Geranium Seeds - Knowledgebase Question

McHenry, IL
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Question by player42
January 26, 1998
I have been trying to get geranium seeds to germinate for a
number of years. I use a seed starting mixture of vermiculite and peat. I plant the seeds, water with warm water, cover them slightly, put on a plant heat tray used for warmth, and cover with a piece of plastic to retain moisture. I have also tried germinating individual seeds on a wet paper towel with better success but the seedlings were not as vigorous. However, only about 10% of my seeds germinate. I have tried hybrid plants but when Ionly get 1 plant to grow it's expensive. I bought Burpee Scarlet Border and also Paintbox varieties and planted them on Jan 16th and not 1 seed germinated. What am I doing wrong and can you give me some advice? Any advice growing impatiens from seed would also be appreciated.

Answer from NGA
January 26, 1998
Germination for geranium seed is famously irregular, it helps to presoak the seeds overnight before planting. They germinate best when soil temperature is between 70-80F. They should be just barely covered with soil. Geranium seed generally takes 14 days to sprout so the ones you planted on Jan. 16 really haven't had a chance yet. Remember also, geranium seed should be sown approximately 10-12 weeks before you plan to transplant them to the garden. What type of lighting are you providing? Geraniums germinate best when light is provided (preferably from above). That is probably why they germinated better on the paper towel. Seedlings started this way will not be as vigorous of course, they aren't receiving any nutrients as they would from the soil. They are also exposed to the possibility of drying out when placed on a paper towel. Sow impatiens seeds indoors about 12 weeks before the last frost. Sow on the surface of the media and gently press them into the mixture. Do not cover seeds, since they need light to germinate. Maintain a temperature of 70 to 75F. Bottom water until the surface of the media changes color (is wet) and cover with plastic wrap. Put under fluorescent lights and keep at 70 degrees F. Germination should occur in 8-20 days. Remove the plastic when germination is apparent. Transplant into individual pots.

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