Seed Germinating Times and Tips

Germinating seed

Germinating seeds can vary from easy to difficult

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.” Elizabeth Murray

The Art of the Garden

As any seasoned gardener will tell you, gardening is an art and a true labor of love. The art of the garden begins with learning about the needs of each seed. Germinating seeds is not a black and white “by the book” process. Each seed type is different and desires different conditions and levels of patience. Some, like the Radish and many Lettuces, only ask for a little water and a few days. Others, like the Hot Peppers and some Perennial flowers, need specific temperature and humidity and MONTHS to germinate!

In this post we will give you some basic tips for successful germination, information of the various seed “types” followed by a chart detailing expected germination times of specific seed varieties.

The “Must Know”s for Successful Seed Germinating

Sowing the seed

Germinating Seeds

All seeds need water and oxygen to germinate. The best soil choice (in almost all situations) is a light, loose soil that will not compact, get soggy, or crust over. Successful germination demand a continuous supply of  water and air. Cover seed with 2 – 4 times their thickness of soil, unless they require light to germinate. Sow shallowly in cold wet spring, more deeply in warm dry summer. Large seeds can be soaked overnight and planted singly. Barely cover small seeds, and sprinkle fine seed on the surface and water by misting. Plant flat seed edgewise and winged seed with wing uppermost or broken off. Sowing too thickly wastes seed and weakens the crowded seedlings, but some kinds of seed sprout best if crowded. Lightly tamp soil to insure good contact with the seed, unless heavy. Keep soil moist, not soggy, and do not allow it to dry out!
Common causes of failure of germination are:

  • Soil too heavy, wet or cold, or allowed to dry out
  • Impatience with slow seeds (some seeds need MONTHS not days to germinate!)- See germination chart below for guidance in germination times
  • Pests eating the seeds or seedlings,
  • Not giving dormant seeds the proper pretreatment

Careful attention to any growing instructions on the internet, in the catalog and on the seed packet will help insure optimal results results. Remember that seed “germination rates” also vary by seed variety. Some varieties bost 90-100% germination rates while some, more difficult varieties will only give a 20% germination rate.

Temperature

Germinating Seeds

Most seeds germinate best at warm (70°F) temperatures. Plants from temperate regions, the arctic, high mountains and high deserts often germinate best at cool temperatures. Plants from winter-rain areas like California, the Mediterranean, Chile, S. Africa and parts of Australia also like cool temperatures. Warm temperatures will often speed germination of these seeds, but lower vigor, survival and germination rates. Warm desert plants and tropical seeds like warmth. Please refer to the germination chart below for guidance on germination temperatures for specific seed varieties.

Seed Types and General Germination Tips

Germinating Seeds

HARDY ANNUALS (HA)

Grow Foxglove from Seed!

An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. “True annuals” will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed.

Hardy annual seeds can handle being frozen in the soil and are often planted in fall or early spring. Most self-seeding annuals would be considered hardy annual seeds. These seeds can be sown direct to the garden as early as the ground can be worked (generally, March to June). The soil should be prepared until a smooth, fine surface is obtained. An attractive annual border can be had by planting annuals in large, irregular drifts.

Examples of Hardy Annuals include: Alyssum, Dianthus, Calendula, Cornflower, Foxglove, Larkspur, Pansy, many Dianthus cultivars and Viola.

HALF HARDY ANNUALS (HHA)

Grow Baby's Breathe from Seed

Half Hardy Annuals are killed by frost and should be sown in late spring after danger of frost. For early bloom, start early indoors & plant out after danger of frost.

Examples of Half Hardy Annuals include: Comsos, Gazania, Baby’s breath, Bells of Ireland, Blue sage, Candytuft, Celome, Forget-me-nots, Love-in-a-mist, Snow-on-the-mountain, Strawflower and Petunias

TENDER ANNUALS (TA)

Grow Flowering Tobacco, a tender annual

Tender Annuals need warmth and shelter and, as their name implies, are the most sensitive of the annual varieties. Tender Annuals are best started in pots or flats and planted out in favored spots after the soil has warmed. Most Tender Annuals can’t handle anything colder than about 55 degrees F

Examples of Tender Annuals include: Ageratum, Balsam, Begonia, Celosia, Coleus, Amaranth, Impatiens, Marigold, Morning glory, Nasturtium, Nicotiana, Petunia, Scarlet sage, Verbena, Vinca,  and Zinnia

BIENNIALS and WINTER ANNUALS

Grow Black Hollyhock from Seed

The life cycle of biennial plants is completed over two growing seasons. During the first season they produce only leaves—usually in a rosette. Following a winter cold period, they flower in the second growing season, produce seeds, and then die. Biennials are sown like half hardy annuals or perennials in spring or fall and planted out in September and October. Biennials present the obvious disadvantage of producing only foliage the first year. One solution is to sow biennial seeds in mid-summer so that the plants will develop during the summer and fall. After exposure to the winter cold, they will develop flowers in the spring.

Examples of Biennials include: Foxglove, Hollyhock, Stocks, and Sweet williams.

Winter annuals germinate in autumn or winter, live through the winter, then bloom in winter or spring. Winter annuals such as some Californian and desert plants may be grown in summer, but are at their best sown in fall, even if grown in the greenhouse in cold winter areas. These plants grow and bloom during the cool season when most other plants are dormant or other annuals are in seed form waiting for warmer weather to germinate. Winter annuals die after flowering and setting seed. The seeds germinate in the fall or winter when the soil temperature is cool.

Winter annuals typically grow low to the ground, where they are usually sheltered from the coldest nights by snow cover, and make use of warm periods in winter for growth when the snow melts.

Examples of Winter Annuals include: Henbit, Deadnettle, Chickweed, and Winter cress.

PERENNIALS (HP), HARDY PERENNIALS (HP) and HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS

Grow Beautiful Echinacea White Swan from Seed

Generally speaking, Perennial Plants are plants that live for two or more years. Hardy Perennials are perennial plants that are capable of surviving the coldest temperatures of a given area and Herbaceous Perennials are non-woody plants that lives for two or more years; These perennial plants can either be deciduous or evergreen.

Many  Perennials germinate readily at warm temperatures, and can be sown direct to the garden or early in the greenhouse or cold frame. If started early, they often bloom the first year. Other Perennials germinate best at cool or cold temperatures and the seedlings need cool temperatures. Many have various dormancies & need specific pretreatments.

Perennial plants can be short-lived (only a few years) or they can be long-lived, as are some woody plants like trees which can live for over 4,000 years

Examples of Perennial Plants include: Many Herbs (Some Basils, Chives, Dill , Mint etc), Asters, Echinacea, Dianthus, Raspberry, Strawberry, Apple Tree, Globe Artichoke, Hognut, Sorrel and Watercress

Germination Time

Germinating Seeds

For most seed, average germination time is given in a range of weeks.  A seed that takes 2 – 3 weeks will usually come up fairly evenly. On the other hand, one that takes 1 – 12 weeks will tend to straggle in irregularly. Time varies with temperature, so expect considerable variation. Don’t give up too soon—many who have given up and sown another seed in the pot end up with two types of plants in the same pot!

Below you will find a chart of specific germination times for many popular garden seeds:

For detailed information on HOW to germinate Pepper Seeds, click HERE

Set yourself up for success!

Other important factors in seed germination are the Soil mix and pH, Pre-treatment of seeds, optimal hours of light, and various seed germinating techniques. We will be addressing these issues in upcoming posts so stay tuned!

Knowing what to expect from your specific seeds and how to best care for them will help set you up for successful germination and save you the concern of wondering “when will my seeds germinate?!”

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” Swedish Proverb

Germinating seed

Happy Germinating!

Posted on July 6th, 2011 by Ms. Sunshine  |  3 Comments »

How to Plant and Grow Pepper Seeds

Peppers have always been one of the most popular vegetables in the home garden

Peppers have always been one of the most popular vegetables in the home garden

Peppers in the Garden

Cool-your-mouth-after-eating-hot-pepper

There is such a great number of unique and delicious pepper seeds available that more and more home gardeners are trying their hand at growing from seed. Peppers come in a great variety of colors, shapes, sizes and flavors and are second only to Tomatoes as the most popular food in the backyard garden.

paprika-is-a-pepper

Growing peppers from seed can be a challenge but, armed with knowledge and persistence, even the most beginner gardener can successfully grow a great variety of peppers.

5 Tips for growing Peppers from Seed

  1. When to Start Pepper Seeds:

    Start seeds at least 10 and preferably 12-14 weeks (if you live in a northern climate with a shorter growing season) before the last frost date for your area.

  2. Germinating Pepper Seeds:

    Pepper seeds need moisture, a fairly warm temperature, air, and light for best germination. When choosing a soil make sure it is light and well draining (not “potting soil”) to be sure the pepper roots get get both air and water. A good choice for starting pepper seeds is a commercial peat-lite type seed starting soil directly from a newly opened bag (to be sure that the soil is weed free). Peat-based soils contain a live bacteria that helps to prevent mold growth. Chile seeds germinate at soil temperatures of 75° – 90°F (20° – 35°C) with 85°F (30°C) being ideal. You can use a heating pad or an old electric blanket combined with an pocket thermometer, Electric Soil Warming Cables or “plant propagation mats” found in nurseries and hardware stores.

  3. Soak Seeds BEFORE Planting:

    Soaking your seeds before planting will help soften the seed hull. An easy way to soak the seed is to place the seeds in a small sieve and dip it into a cup or bowl of warm water. If any seeds float, dab them with your finger to break the surface tension. Some believe that the “floaters” generally do not germinate as well and/or produce stunted plants. Allow the seeds to soak overnight. (NOTE: this is the “true” organic gardening technique. Some gardeners prefer to soak their seeds in a chemical mix. If you are looking for that technique you will have to search elsewhere as we only promote organic techniques.) After rinsing your seeds, place them on several layers of paper towels to absorb the extra moisture. You are now ready to plant your seeds!

  4. Plant Pepper Seeds:

    There are a variety of different seed starting containers commercially available. Some that are recommended specifically for starting pepper seeds are the: Gro-Packs, Styrofoam 40-cell trays from A. P. Systems, Peat Pellets or Peat Pots. Regardless of what container you choose to use you will need to tightly cover them, either with saran wrap or a fitted clear plastic dome. Covering after watering will create a “hothouse” environment- ideal for pepper seed germination! The seeds are set on the surface of the soil (the soil should be MOIST not too wet), one per cell and sprinkled with another light coat of potting medium, then given a light mist of water from a hand pump sprayer. Cover tray with the saran wrap or clear plastic dome and set on heating mat/blanket or other warm place like on top of your refrigerator.
    Do not set a domed flat in direct sun! It can cook the seeds.
    Remove the dome once to every other day to let fresh air get to the seeds and mist spray the soil if needed. Some chile seeds take a long time to germinate (70-90 days or more) , but they should do so using these instructions. So don’t give up! Once the seedlings are up, remove the plastic dome cover, but do not let the soil dry out. If the seedlings are allowed to wilt, they may not die, but their growth will be set back.

  5. Transplant Pepper Seedlings:

    Seedlings should be transplanted to a 3 or 4 inch pot as soon as the first true leaves are fully unfolded, and the second pair of true leaves is just beginning to develop. About two weeks before you plan to transplant your seedlings to the garden you should begin “hardening off” (exposing the seedling to more sunlight and wind). No matter what type of pepper you grow, they like the weather hot. Transplant pepper seedlings outdoors after the last chance of frost has past. If the weather is still cool, delay transplanting a few days, and keep them in a coldframe, indoors or next to the house.
    Peppers should be spaced 18-24 inches apart, in rows 24 to 36 inches apart. This spacing may vary somewhat by variety.
    Pepper plants prefer moist soil. Avoid wet soil. Water regularly in the hot, dry summer months.
    Add mulch around the peppers to keep down weeds, and to retain moisture.

peppers-vitamin-c

Watch them grow and enjoy!

When your Peppers are ripe and ready to be indulged, click here to check out our delicious recipes for cooking with even the hottest peppers!!

Growing peppers from seed

Peppers can be picked as soon as they reach a size which is edible.

Posted on January 20th, 2010 by Ms. Sunshine  |  18 Comments »

Cooking with the Hottest Peppers on Earth

The hottest peppers on Earth can be great ingredients!

The Hottest Peppers on Earth can be great ingredients!

The hottest peppers on earth are intimidating just to look at and most of us are at a loss of how and what to cook with them!

As we explored in a previous post about the History of The Chili Pepper there are many Chili Peppers that have been revered through much of history.The world market demand for Hot Chili Peppers consistently increases. It would seem that we really do believe “the hotter the better”. This could be attributed to what is known as the “The chili high” that occurs due to the bloodstream being flooded with endorphins, after we eat a spicy pepper, as a form of pain relief.

The current Top Ten Hottest Chili Peppers each have a different look, flavor and appeal and, with a little practice,  each can be appreciated for its unique culinary qualities.

The World's Current Top Ten Hottest Chili Peppers

The World's Current Top Ten Hottest Chili Peppers

When cooking with these peppers, use care and caution. The oils can be irritating to your skin and it is generally recommended that you wear gloves when handling any of these peppers (ESPECIALLY the top 2!).
For variety, different peppers may be substituted in these recipes, however, keeping in mind the increased level of heat intensity, you may wish to decrease or increase the amount of pepper used based on your personal taste preference.

Hottest Pepper Recipes

1. Ghost Pepper Chili Cream Sauce and Coconut Crusted Monkfish

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 3 Ghost Pepper (Naga Jolokia) chilies
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 large monkfish fillet
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Place Ghost Pepper (Naga Jolokias) chiles in a small pot, cover with water. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the chiles are softened.
  2. Take the chilies out of the pot and blend into a paste in a food processor, adding a tablespoon of the water from the pot if necessary.
  3. In a skillet, heat butter and add onions. Saute until translucent. Add the chili paste and cook for another minute.
  4. Add cream and stir well to blend. Simmer for a few minutes until the cream reduces by 1/3. Blend and strain, then keep the sauce warm until ready to serve.
  5. Meanwhile,

  6. Slice the monkfish into 1 inch rounds or other shapes, if desired.
  7. Whisk the egg a little bit in a bowl.
  8. Combine the flour, coconut, and salt in a shallow bowl or plate.
  9. Heat oil in a skillet.
  10. Dip the monkfish rounds into the egg, and coat with coconut-flour mixture. Place in a skillet and fry for a few minutes per side.

Serve monkfish with Jasmine rice and top with Ghost Chile Cream Sauce.

Devil’s Tongue Salt

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Toast the chilies in a skillet on a high heat for a few minutes
  2. Place in spice grinder along with a little bit of orange peel and the coarse sea salt. Pulse all ingredients together a few times.

This salt would is a great addition to many different dishes according to an individual taste.

Pork Meatballs with Chocolate Habaneros

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Chocolate Habanero Peppers (or, 3 Ghost Peppers) -very finely diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix all ingredients except cheese in a large bowl until well combined
  3. Divide meat mixture into 8 portions and roll into balls
  4. Put a little of the shredded cheese in each meatball and seal the hole
  5. Place meatballs on a cookie sheet or in an ovenproof casserole dish
  6. Bake for 25 min at 350
  7. Without taking meatballs out of the oven, increase temperature to 450 and continue to cook for 11 to 14 more minutes, until meatballs are slightly browned
  8. Remove from oven and serve immediately or they can be refrigerated and reheated

Hot Peppers are also delicious in pickling, salsas and a variety of sauces. Get creative with your peppers and you will find the spice will continue to grow on you!

Enjoy your cooking and Happy Endorphin rush to you!

The hottest peppers on Earth can be great ingredients!

The Hottest Peppers on Earth can be great ingredients!

Posted on January 13th, 2010 by Ms. Sunshine  |  8 Comments »

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