Seed germination guide

If you bought seeds from us, thank you! We hope you can fully enjoy the new plants that will born, but also take pleasure from the process to accomplish this wonderful goal. Now you may be asking “how do I germinate my seeds?”

Seed germination guide

Seed germination is a complex process and several books has been writen over the subject. There is no magic or secret formula to grow plants from seed, we just need to follow some rules and have the Nature on our side.

In this page we try to describe the procedure that we’ve been using for years growing trees and shrubs from seed. We don’t want to over simplify the process but we feel that this procedure will bring great results with the majority of the seeds that we sell.

Seed dormancy

Our seeds are usually harvested in late summer and autumn. Once harvested, the seeds are cleaned and dried. Nature protects them with a biological mechanism called dormancy, in which they are actually dormant in order to avoid their germination in periods of cold (winter) which would be fatal for the small plants. Thus, to “break” this dormancy and “wake up” the seeds, it is common to pass them through a process that is called stratification. This process is no more than simulating a rigorous winter, followed by spring.

Stratification

To force this rigorous winter, we should expose the seeds to low temperatures and some moisture. This will cause the capsule that protects them to soften and decompose, allowing the embryo to born more easily later. This process simulates what happens in Nature in winter.

You can sow your seeds outside during cold fall and winter and wait for the frost defrost to break the seeds dormancy.

The “not so natural” way to do this with great results, is to use your kitchen fridge. This is the way we do it. If you buy your seeds in advance, store them in the original dry paper bag inside a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Then, 4 to 6 weeks before sowing, open the bag and add a few drops of water to create moisture. We just take the paper bag and submerge it quickly in a glass of tap water.

Seed germination guide - submerge the seeds in water
Seed germination guide – submerge the seeds in water

Do not let much water to get into the package, jut let it wet. Put the paper bag again in the plastic one, close it well and put it again in the refrigerator (don’t allow the seeds to freeze) for the 4 to 6 week period before sowing.

 

Seed germination guide - stratification in the fridge
Seed germination guide – stratification in the fridge

Seed sowing

After the stratification period in which the seeds were in the fridge, it is time to sow! As mentioned we usually start stratification during autumn/winter and sow in early spring when the temperatures start to rise for the growing season. You can sow the seeds outside until the beggining of summer. If the temperatures raise above 22ºC it is better to place the seed containers or pots in a fresh shelter.

This is our recommended and most natural periods to sow, but you can simulate them all over the year… just watch the temperature and moist and everything should work.

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