Seeds forum: Question on seed germination...

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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Jan 29, 2017 1:30 PM CST
Does anyone use germination paper? If so, do you have a source for it?
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Jan 30, 2017 5:57 PM CST

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Wow--I'd never seen/heard of this before but just saw a demo on-line. I must confess to keeping my seed starting simple, either direct sowing into germination mix. Or, if I want to test germination or germinate a few seeds I use the wet paper towel inside a baggie method.

Have you used this before, Kristi?
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Jan 30, 2017 9:06 PM CST
I haven't tried it but have some Papalo seeds that are harder to germinate. I was reading 'how tos' online and saw one seed site recommended germination paper but they didn't appear sell it.
I've not tried the baggie/paper towel method but may have to give it a go. Do you leave it where it is warm or in the light or both?
I appreciate your response and taking the time to look at it, I wasn't sure I had put this post in the right forum. Thanks much...
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
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Pistil
Jan 31, 2017 12:21 PM CST
Hi pod, yes I think this is a good forum for this. I too had not heard of the germination paper. I use the wet paper towel in baggie (Deno) method, it seems to work but I suppose there could be some chemical residues in the paper that might affect some species. It does not work for everything for me but I have attributed that to my neglect or not understanding certain species requirements. Maybe I might try that. Except like you I looked it up online and it is unbelievably $$$$$ ($1400 for 1000 sheets!). Some people use coffee filters, I have never done so but probably the brown ones that are not bleached would be less chemicalized.
The baggie method is adaptable, depending on the requirements of the seeds, some that want warm and moist and light I leave on the kitchen counter (out of direct sun which might cook the seeds), warm and moist and dark I tuck under the quilted mixer cover on the counter. Warm and moist and cool I put in the fridge in the cheese drawer. You can stack a whole lot of these baggies in almost no space. Some need alternating cold and warm, I write on the baggie when it went into each condition, and check them from time to time.
Part of the fun of this hobby, although it can drive you crazy, is the differing requirements of different plants. Most common annual flowers just do fine with warm/moist/light, but the perennials and shrubs and trees can have very complicated requirements, mimicking the climate they are from. I have some Iris foetidissima I am quite proud of, they sprout during the second winter when it is still very cold! These however I just put in a pot under a shrub and let mother nature do her thing, it works great. I tried some of these with the Deno method, but just putting the whole berries in the pot outside actually had better germination.
I use plain white paper towels, and the original method (Dr. Deno who studied seed germination requirements used the non-ziplock baggies just loosely folded, this seemed to give them enough oxygen).
Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Jan 31, 2017 1:32 PM CST
Please excuse the beginner ignorance, but: Is that ON a wet paper towel? Or between wet paper towels? After it sprouts, how do you get it into dirt?

I only tried something like this once (campanula, super tiny seeds). I didn't think of using a baggie (I assumed that would give it too little air). I used two paper towels below and one above and still had to re-wet them twice a day.

I thought spouts could find the tiny holes in the towel above and punch through. The campanula certainly can't, and I later did a lot of damage while removing the upper and one out of two lower towels. Campanula did punch roots through one layer of towel below. But I don't know how much that delayed their progress.

Several months and accidents later, I'm down from many hundreds of sprouts to about 40 (none doing very well, indoors) which was subject of another thread.

Having made such a bad start with these seeds (including other attempts that yielded zero), in November I just scattered ALL the rest of the seeds (of a few different plants) in various places on the ground and dusted over them with a tiny amount of soil and hoped nature would work in the Spring.

So I'm not going to try again with paper towel any time soon. But I'll probably be crazy enough to try again when the first new campanula seed pods outside, dry in July. So what is the method? (Or link to where I should have read it).
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (Zone 5a)
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mom2goldens
Jan 31, 2017 5:00 PM CST

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I've just always moistened my paper towel, placed my seeds on top and then folded the paper towel over the seeds and inserted the whole thing into a baggie. I keep my baggie either on the kitchen counter, or if extra heat is needed, on top of my grow light fixture.

If the roots happen to go through the paper towel, just carefully cut out a piece of the paper towel surrounding the seed (being careful not to disturb the root) and plant the entire thing in your potting mix. The paper towel disintegrates very easily and doesn't seem to cause problems.

I've done artichoke seeds this way, and they almost always poke their roots through the paper towel.

I'm not sure how well this would work with really tiny seeds. I tend to do it with larger seeds--artichokes, beans, etc.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Jan 31, 2017 7:45 PM CST
There are some special germination papers for special requirements.
Some where--- I came across paper that is treated with smoke for plant seeds which germinate after forest fires.

The damp paper towel in a baggie works well.
I tend to use moist vermiculite in a baggie.

The use of towels or vermiculite gets around the problem of molds.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Jan 31, 2017 9:58 PM CST
Wow! Thanks for all the responses. Yes Mary, I was horrified at the cost of germination paper. No doubt it is for commerical use. I had hoped for access to a small amount to experiment with but that is not to be.

Caroline, it is interesting to learn that the paper can be treated to aid germination.

I also read that brown paper towels will work. I suspect they (like the brown coffee filters are not treated with chemicals/bleach) would also be tougher and maybe prevent the roots from penetrating it. Linda, that is clever to just plant the seedling with a little of the paper towel attached.

jsf67 - like you, I feel like a beginner with this. The seedlings are so delicate I'll be nervous about damaging them when planting.

This was the first place I read about the germination paper use about half way through the article... http://www.underwoodgardens.co...

I will have to give the baggie method a try. I thought the plastic would inhibit circulation and cause mold but then it would be like watching a pot try to boil. I wouldn't leave them alone and would keep checking for green and that might not be good either. Confused
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
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CarolineScott
Feb 1, 2017 8:39 AM CST
The best thing is to go ahead, and try some things, and learn as you go.
There are lots of avid gardeners on these forums who will answer your questions. We all made mistakes when we started, but persevered until we were successful most of the time.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Feb 1, 2017 12:13 PM CST
>> jsf67 - like you, I feel like a beginner with this. The seedlings are so delicate I'll be nervous about damaging them when planting.

I totally agree with you - man-handling those delicate-looking roots scares me.

But I've read people who sow or germinate large numbers of seeds in bunches, and then (by my standards) RIP them apart willy-nilly and lose very few of them.

Some day I plan to grit my teeth and try to do likewise. I theory, I understand that losing a few just means that I'll thin out or throw away fewer seedlings a week or two later.

But pulling two seedlings' roots apart feels like separating conjoined twins without anesthesia. I guess I'm the only one that needs the anesthesia. Or a tranquilizer?

Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
jsf67
Feb 1, 2017 12:39 PM CST
I don't have the best eyesight nor manual dexterity.

With 2x glasses that let me get far closer to the work than I could otherwise, I can resolve the two cotyledons of a campanula sprout (without such glasses, both together are one green spec).

I still have no idea when campanula sprouts develop roots nor whether those roots went on top of my one layer of wet paper towel for a long time before finding a path through. Campanula roots are initially so thin, that even with the 2x glasses, they are way below the size I can see. It was many weeks before the main root of a seedling was heavy enough to see with 2x glasses (BTW, I can see a lot more getting very close with 2x glasses than at any distance with a 5x magnifying glass. So short of a real microscope, I'm not going to see these things).

When I made my one attempt with a wet paper towel above as well as below and separated those as carefully as I could, about a quarter of the seedlings came away with the towel above. I'm sure I could not have picked them up with tweezers without destroying them, so I just laid the whole top sheet on top of dirt, sprout side up (just as I did with the sheet ). Most of the sprouts on the main sheet managed to punch their invisible roots through to the dirt underneath and survive. But zero of the upside down sprouts on top of the inverted top sheet survived. I'm only inferring "upside down". When all you can see (with magnification) is a pair of cotyledons, not any other part of the plant they belong to, "upside down" is neither a visible nor manually correctable characteristic. (So I think the paper towel over the seeds was a bad idea).
[Last edited by jsf67 - Feb 1, 2017 12:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
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Pistil
Feb 1, 2017 1:05 PM CST
jsf-
Congratulations on your success! You have started with very difficult seeds- Campanula generally have tiny seeds, and like many perennials, are slow to grow. So your ability to figure this out and get some to grow is great! Sprouted seeds figure out which way is up, so you don't have to worry much. I have cut the paper around the seeds like others do. I have better success with tiny slow growing perennials like this doing "Winter Sowing" instead of the paper towel. You can even sow in a little pot and put it in a baggie in the fridge, but that obviously takes up more room. Some people just put the seeds in the baggy with some moistened Perlite or vermiculite or potting soil mix. Then once they are sprouting, they gently spread this mixture around on the surface of the destination pot or flat. This seems like a good idea to me but I have only tried it once and those particular seeds I never got to sprout with any treatment, I think they might have been dead. Another Idea I have come up with that I have not tried is peeling apart the two ply cheap paper towels, so the roots only have to get through one layer.
The bottom line is most seeds need to be moist to sprout, and some need a cold moist period, so all you are doing is figuring out a way to mimic what the seeds expect from mother nature. there are endless ways to do it.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 1, 2017 2:24 PM CST
This is another method for germinating seeds using vermiculite that works very well and gets around the "roots tangled up in the paper towel" problem. Smiling
http://www.seedsite.eu/article...
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 11, 2017 2:58 AM CST
I use the wet paper towel/baggie method for my large seeds like beans, cukes, and corn. Saves a lot of replanting.
With corn, it makes sure my small 4x4 blocks mature together in sucession plantings.

I have also used it in early Winter to test some seed vials for viability before ordering time arrives. It is surprising sometimes how some seeds last and others don't. And I don't mean in general "seed-life" listed in books. Sometimes, seeds last longer than expected and some shorter.
north of Kansas city MO (Zone 5a)
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happgarden
Feb 19, 2017 7:56 AM CST
Wonder if stronger toilet paper would work. It is made to dissolve, why paper towels are stronger. Might need to use more layers and moisten more often. Just a thought.

I know nothing about starting seeds but have managed to start a bunch of coleus. In seed starting mix. Now I am not sure what to do. I have been misting. They have just there seed leaf, no other leaves yet. Thinking about watering from the bottom now. Any suggestions?
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Feb 19, 2017 8:11 AM CST
I've never started Coleus but would think I would not overwater until they put on at least the first set of real leaves so the plant could dispose of the water. I have read that only 5% of the moisture is used by the plant and 95% is transpired through the leaves. Without leaves the plant will drown/rot. Most common in seedlings. Too moist also sets up conditions for disease. I would continue to mist till leaves are formed. Then I'd start bottom watering. Good luck.
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Feb 20, 2017 1:32 AM CST
pod said:I've never started Coleus but would think I would not overwater until they put on at least the first set of real leaves so the plant could dispose of the water. I have read that only 5% of the moisture is used by the plant and 95% is transpired through the leaves. Without leaves the plant will drown/rot. Most common in seedlings. Too moist also sets up conditions for disease. I would continue to mist till leaves are formed. Then I'd start bottom watering. Good luck.

I always bottom water seedlings. Established seedlings can get water on the top soil, but I would not mist them. There is little advantage unless you are trying foliar feeding, and seedlings generally don't need that.
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Feb 20, 2017 7:21 AM CST
Yardenman said:
I always bottom water seedlings. Established seedlings can get water on the top soil, but I would not mist them. There is little advantage unless you are trying foliar feeding, and seedlings generally don't need that.


Interesting, I always top water but start my seeds outdoors and move in if the weather turns too cold. If bottom watering, I certainly wouldn't let them sit in water.
Thinking the key is to do what works for each individual situation and boy do we learn from our mistakes... Green Grin!
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Feb 20, 2017 8:48 PM CST
Kristi, for what it's worth, sunflowers, started on a wet paper towel in a zip-lok bag. The seeds came from my birdseed mix.

Thumb of 2017-02-21/McCannon/7118d2

The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from that!
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Cat Lover Dog Lover Vermiculture Birds Bulbs
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pod
Feb 20, 2017 9:59 PM CST
Very cool Mac... did you loose any when you moved them to soil?

On this end, I gave up and tried Papalo seed laying on moist soil in a wintersowing container on Feb 5th. Yesterday I saw I had one (only) germinate. Needless to say I was delighted! Hurray!
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.

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