OLD Seeds & NEW Seeds

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Hi Everybody,

I was Hoping some of you would share your own insight and opinion on this topic...

In 1996 My father saved watermelon seeds from my Great-Grandfather's watermelon. He use to grow the best. He has long passed...In 2006 I took the seeds and grew the watermelons myself.

When I give away or trade seeds "Freshness" always seems to be the concern or question. Therefore I always pick and send seeds of that year (because of the hype). Unless I inform the person from what year they are from.

But here's my point...I NEVER throw away seeds I plan on sowing at some point or another. All of the seedlings and flats I have now are from seeds over 6 years old. I have just about 100% germination rate. And next year I might sow seeds from 2004. There are some seeds that do not store well in my opinion and those are Marigolds. I have also noticed the very same seeds I have germinated this year, WOULD not germinate when they were received or the year after. But just about popped out in 2 days this year. Therefore I am deeply inclined that many many seed types need to be older to germinate.

I put away seeds Weezingreens sent me in 2004 dated and labeled "Pasithea Coerulea 2003". When I first tried these seeds they would not germinate. I tried them the following year..nothing! I revisited the pack and this year, 6 years later, I now have babies.

Can some of you list some seeds in Your opinion that are not viable over time...

1. My Opinion: Marigolds (somebody prove me wrong...LOL) because I'm holding on to one special kind knowing they may never sprout!


Thumbnail by Kim_M
Johannesburg, South Africa

I think most seed keeps for a long time. There are exceptions of course. It is said that Agapanthus seed needs to be fresh to germinate. I do think that seed that has a soft piece to make it easier for the seed to float away from the mother plant are ones that do not keep well. Despite what is said about Aggie seed, I have grown some which is supposed to be past "its-sell-by-date". Very small seed - dust - is best planted fresh from the plant, like Streptocarpus. I have bought Strep seed and no results, planted some of mine and good germination when it is virtually off the plant. I have some now that I must get into the soil. Plants that rely on very good rain for a short while, also have a long life. Sometimes they must wait for a couple of years before a good wetting. I think planting by the moon is very helpful.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow! Thanks for that! I have germinated Agapanthus and I believe the seeds were fresh.

This statment: "I do think that seed that has a soft piece to make it easier for the seed to float away from the mother plant are ones that do not keep well."

Like what kind? I'm eager to know...

I don't store ANY seeds in paper envelopes. Only in plastic (without chaff), maybe it gives my seeds longer life?

Johannesburg, South Africa

My description of seeds with a soft piece -- Jacaranda have thousands of seeds that float away (hence they become a weed, but of course are beautiful). Agapanthus have a small amount of soft area area around the seed proper. I think many tree seeds have little extra pieces that make them fly away like Ash for example. I have to think of trees and plants more northern hemisphere than southern. Most of the seeds from Africa are hard and have a very hard shell like acacia trees - excellent Giraffe food - LOL

It is usual to store seed in paper until properly dry. I tend to start off with seed in a bottle with the lid off then into plastic of some sort.

I was reading in some of the older contributions that one experienced grower started seed in damp kitchen paper. I have some seed of a creeper than are very difficult to germinate and wonder if this is the answer. These seed are really round balls and nearly as big as sweet pea seed which of course germinate easily. One clivia seed grower I met had a refrigerator set at a very special temperature so as to germinate clivia seed before planting.
Some people store seed in their refrigerator. This does help to preserve viability.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

I don't germinate anything in soil (except veggies). I use vermiculite or I place them in Bounty Paper Towel (moistened) and in a ziplock bag.This is because if I start seeds of any plant. It is because I really really want it. Therefore I never play the wishing and hoping game. I've been germinating things like this for years. When the seedlings are big enough I move them to a soil. I make my seeds do what I want them to! ha ha haa! That's probably why I never throw any I plan to grow away.

Pawleys Island, SC

I have found that most seeds will germinate for me if they are kept refrigerated or in the dark. However, the ones I have had the most trouble with are morning glory seeds. Some don't ever want to germinate.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Wow! Now those are the ones that germinate instantly for me. I had some MG's that someone here one gave me a few years ago. They popped up FAST! LOL

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

How long do you guys leave the seeds to dry before putting them in plastic bags?

Jeanette

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Well I never thought about a real time frame. I guess a couple of days.... You can kinda tell when they are dry. The move around in the baggie and shake easily.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I spread the seeds on separate paper plates and just stack them up off-centered so air can get to them, and put them up high in my computer cabinet and forget about them. I write right on the plate what they are.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

That's a very good method. I have to try that! LOL

(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

Jnette, I have stacks and stacks of paper plate too! I use little plastics cups also with a piece of paper inside with the name on it.

Kim how do you use the vermiculite for starting seeds? Like you would soil? What is your reason for it? I love the paper towel baggie method for my MG seeds!!

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Ronnie, The vermiculite is very loose and doesn't mold. Great for those itty bitty seeds. I have found that some soils mold if the seed requires a lot of moisture for germination. The vermiculite is so loose that the seedlings roots grow twice as fast, and you can virtually pull them out. Therefore no root damage and extremely easy transplanting from the vermiculite to soil. I use little cups and fill them with vermiculite and water. Sprinkle the seeds on top. Place the cup in a ziplock bag. Usually within a few days they sprout. I also get lazy and they can live in there for quite some time. With the baggie I always fill like I have to get the newly germinated seed potted up or in the ground. Vermiculite It's just a really nice medium...

(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks Kim, will definitely give it a try this year!!

Büllingen, Belgium(Zone 6b)

Can someone tell me what 'vermiculite' is. I tried to translate the word to Dutch, but couldn't find a translation.
Thanks

(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

Jonna when I translated it this was the spelling

Vermiculiet

Here is a link that describes it better than I can...

http://www.thegardensuperstore.co.uk/vermiculite__uses_in_the_garden.htm

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Good Looking Ronnie!

(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

^_^

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Excellent thread!

Aquilegia seeds tend to take longer to germinate the older they are in my experience, but I'm not sure how much less viable the seeds become.

I've often heard Larkspur and Delphinium seeds need to be fresh to germinate well, but I've never experimented with this.

Last year I had excellent germination from 7 year old Hyacinth Bean seeds. I store most of my seeds in the freezer, except tropicals. Some find this risky, but I've never had any problems. I even forgot and put Canna seeds in the freezer with the rest last year, but they still germinated well.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Maybe I should experiment with the Delphinium seeds. I have some rare ones I've been holding on to for YEARS. They look the same as when I stored them. And I kept them because I plan on sowing them. I have Boatloads of Aquilegia seeds, I wanted to sow them. So I've been holding on. I wonder if I'll have any luck?

What about Penstemons? I have some Penstemon seeds I'm holding on to for dear life!

I will say this..
I have about 25 Ipomopsis Rubra babies. I sowed the seeds that were 6 years old. And I sowed the seeds that were fresh from 2008 (at the same time). They both germinated, but here was the difference... The newer seeds germinated FAST within days (sown in vermiculite) The Ipomopsis which was 6 years old sown in soil. Took 3 weeks to germinate. I don't know what to conclude but that was the deal...LOL

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Oh and if you're growing..

Linum Flavum
Linum Grandiflorum
Linum Perenne

They are viable FOREVER! and I mean forever...lol

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

I think with Aquilegia they require more freezing and thawing and/or more time to germinate when they're older. I imagine this is nature's way of ensuring that seeds that fall to the earth later in the season don't germinate only to be killed by winter as tiny seedlings. Wintersowing would probably be a good way to start the older ones.

I've had good luck with 2 and 3 year old Penstemon seeds.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

You may not be able to get vermiculite in Belgium. A lot of stores are no longer carrying it because of the danger to your lungs if you breath the dust.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Ok Neal...we'll I guess I'm going to have a Aquilegia garden next year! ha I am going to winter sow for the first time. I have the BIGGEST bag of Aquilegia seeds with every species I've ever gotten my hands on. They are all mixed up in a bag. I'm going to dump them all and see what I get. This is going to be fun! Except the Hinkley's Golden Columbine. I will keep them separate.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Wow Kim, that is going to be some experiment. Is that what it is? How big of an area are you planting? Be sure you take pictures along the way.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Ummmm I didn't get that far! ha ha. I don't know what to do. Should I put them in the ground? I was thinking about a large container of some sort. So I can see what is coming up and remember what it was I was planting. It's thousands of columbine seeds...LOL. But maybe I should try the ground in a semi-shady spot? Ohhh darn I don't know. I just want to see what I get..I remember when I started dumping seeds in this bag because I had so many different species and never sowed any of them. And the last columbine I grew from seed was in 2004 (White McKana's Giant) Then been collecting ever since and never sowed 1 seed. I've never sown any flowers in the ground but I have so many seeds I have to start trying.

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Hmmm...I think a big container may be just the trick. Something big enough to stay moist, that could just sit in place through the winter, maybe a half whiskey barrel or something concrete. I've had wintersown Columbine wait till June to germinate, so it would be good to have them confined so that you don't disturb them.

I'm so excited to see my Columbines bloom next year! I started lots of them last year, and while they did survive their first winter, they hadn't gotten very big due to the drought that year. This year they beefed up amazingly, but didn't bloom, so I'm sure they'll bloom like mad in '10. Some of them are Nora Barlowe, that I believe came from you originally.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Well take pictures we want to see... I have long forgotten what species are in this bag. Time will tell..everybody thinks I'm nuts around my neck of the woods. Like I need a 12 step program for seed aholics. Yesterday I picked about 300 Pink Dogwood seeds..Now what to do with them? I've never grown a Dogwood from seed. But many other trees...

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

I've been playing around with a few trees from seed too. Last year I started several Golden Chain trees (Laburnum anagyroides) and only kept a couple, thinking they're likely not to like our hot, humid summers. And from my quick check of Plantfiles, I see you've started them from seed too! I have one seedling that has survived, and it looks good- time will tell. I started Chaste tree this year, and was shocked to see blooms already.

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Ohhhhh wow! I have about 2,000 of those seeds (chaste tree). Was gonna throw them out. Do they germinate well? They look the same as when they were picked. You think they are any good? couple years old...

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

If they're only a couple of years old, I'd think there's a good chance. Mine were fresh seed from the Piggy swap last year, and they germinated easily via wintersowing.

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Kim_M, On your question about the dogwood tree, plant it 1/4" deep I Winter Sowed mine a few years ago and got several but the next two years tried to grow them and no luck go figure :) I did notice a seed that germinated on it's own under leaves by my other dogwood so that might be a way to go too just make sure it stays moist with mulched leaves on top of it.

I've heard that there isn't much of a chance of getting a pink dog wood out of your seeds probably white they revert back sorry. It's better to take cuttings not sure after or before they bloom seems like it's after they bloom I had notes on it and lost a word document a while back :(

They sure are slow gowers from seed I have one I planted about three years ago and it's still about five inches high lol It doesn't get a lot of sun though, I'll see how long it takes that one to grow that came up under the leaves it gets more sun. I have a white dogwood and it's about on it's last leg so I'm wanting to replace it.

Kim you sound like a true seed aholic lol

Lea

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

Oh My! Years and 5 inches. Hmmmm wellon't know if I have that much patience...lol. This tree is about 15 years old and 15 feet wide and high. Very large..So pink ones are a type of hybrid or the seed just produce the pink flower?

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Kim, the pink ones do occur from time to time in the wild, a mutation I think, but not something you see very often. Those extra pink ones that have been selected (and probably hybridized too) have been vegetatively propagated. A friend of mine had a pink one show up in her woods growing up, and her Dad let his brother dig it up and take it- she was so mad!

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Oh! I would have been mad too! lol

I keep watching the woods next to us for a pink dogwood or heck even a smaller white one I could dig up but haven't seen anything yet. It must be a miracle when the dogwoods grow in the woods like that lol Then again as long as it takes them to grow they may be in that woods just not big enough to see yet I just wonder how old the trees are that we see in bloom on the highways that have reseeded lol

I have no idea how old this dogwood is here I know it was here when I was growing up and I'm 60 now so it couldn't last much longer that's why I'm trying to get another one to grow because it's so beautiful when it blooms and in the fall with the red leaves. I read somewhere that they live about 25 yrs. but this one has got to be older than that, another ice storm like we had last year may just wipe it out, that's so sad.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LeBug , are you talking about the ones that grow wild and are very tall with big white flowers in the spring? Those are just beautiful. They grow wild in the mountains in Washington State. You see a lot of them when driving thru Snoqualmi pass on I 90.

This message was edited Oct 28, 2009 7:11 AM

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

The wooded areas of Kentucky are full of white dogwoods too. The redbuds bloom first, then the dogwoods join them for a brief time- its gorgeous!

Greenville, IN(Zone 6a)

Jnette, yes that's the ones I'm talking about they are just beautiful! I wish I saw more wild ones around here I would be soo tempted to dig one up for my yard! These trees like mine and Kim's in height are like 15' not that tall really the flowers are close to 3". Here is the one I have:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=COFL2&photoID=cofl2_016_avp.jpg

yes Neal, those redbuds are beautiful! I traded for one a few years back then two came up in my wild bird garden right after that :)

Hamburg, PA(Zone 6b)

When I was a little girl there was a white one like the pic above in the front yard. I admired that tree...should have known back then I was going to be plant crazy. Since then my mother lives in the same house and cut that tree down many years ago. For what I'll never know..

Here's my project for today:

MOIST PACKING

I recently bought seeds from Garden's North. The description of the seeds "Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. moldavicum" stated will come moist packed. Well I had no idea what that meant and was curious to see. I received them and many others I bought and some were "moist packed". Well well well...These packages were little plastic baggies tightly packed with moist vermicullite and the seeds. Ahhhhhhh! Well I have tons of vermiculite.

Soooooo I figured today I will take all my aconitum seeds, astrantia, and Tree Peonies and moist pack them for experiment. Then place them in the fridge from now until Spring. This coming year I am going to have a BLAST! I can not wait to see what I get. Bought some seeds from JL Hudson many many years ago. Gonna moist pack some of those too. Resurrecting Long Lost Plants! ha ha Some of these seeds there aren't any pictures in the PF for them. So can't wait to get some pics up there.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

There you are LeBug. I looked all over for the thread and couldn't remember which one you wrote and posted the picture on. Isn't that beautiful? Just love those trees.

Kim, if they are moist packed why don't they rot? I know the vermiculite holds the moisture, but does it keep them from rotting? I wonder how long they last like that?

Jeanette

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