Soaking Penstemon

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Big, big booboo: I soaked the penstemons, but it's the Lupines that fell apart!!!

Now it's my turn-- did I kill my seeds?!

Lupinus Argenteus seed: After lots of research on line everywhere I could find, I worked out a plan. First, I nicked the seeds with a nail clipper. Then I put the seeds in a little dish, heated water not quite to boiling, added a little H2O2, and covered the seeds, intending to leave them overnight. This was a couple of hours ago. But now, THEY HAVE FALLEN APART!!!!! There are bits of the shell loose all over, and I can actually see teeny white things that look like embryo plants! What next? I had planned to put the soaked seeds in paper towels in the frig-- the Deno method. But now, the poor defenseless little things, what would be best for them? I feel like such a bad mother!!!

This message was edited Mar 25, 2011 1:55 PM

This message was edited Mar 25, 2011 1:57 PM

This message was edited Mar 25, 2011 2:00 PM

Galesburg, IL

Are you sure they were Penstemon? Those seeds are relatively small, and I don't know how you would nick them with a nail clipper. Penstemon strictus needs stratification for 8-12 weeks and then they need light for germination. They don't have a hard seed coat that needs scarification. Do you have any seed left that you could photograph. Either way, I would surface sow what you have and see what happens.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Thanks trc65, when I went back into the kitchen I realized that I'd made a mistake. I soaked the Penstemon, but nicked and soaked the Lupines, and it's the Lupines that fell apart. Is there hope?

This message was edited Mar 25, 2011 2:29 PM

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

This is the best picture I could get. I removed the empty seed coats and various other parts. Many seeds were still in one piece. Whew! I guess I should still do the chilled paper towel in a baggy thing?

For the wounded seeds, I guess I might as well see if anything happens surface sown...

Unless someone else has a suggestion?

Today's lesson, ruefully learned once again: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing :(

Thumbnail by Pfg
Galesburg, IL

I don't really know what will happen with the lupine seeds, I would go ahead and plant them about 1/4 inch deep and see what happens. They will be very susceptible to fungi as it looks like their entire seed coat is gone. One thing that I do with seeds that need scarification/soaking is to soak them first and see if they imbibe then I'll go back with a nail file and scratch the ones that are still hard and re-soak those. I've never been a fan of nail clippers unless you have something really large and hard like canna. It is too easy to take too much with clippers and damage the seed (cotyledons/embryo). If I have a large number of seeds that I need to scarify, I'll use a couple of pieces of sandpaper and rub the seeds between them.

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

That makes sense...I've never nicked before, and I won't do it again in such a hurry. Using sandpaper seems much less harsh, and waiting to see if it's really necessary makes sense too. At least they're not all so damaged. Should I still chill the ones that stayed in one piece?

Thanks so much for your help.


(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

Update: I left the 'naked' embryos in a wet paper towel/ baggie overnight, put the rest in the frig, also towel/baggie. This morning there were 5 between the two places with little sprouts on babies that looked unbroken, so I planted them near the top of seed starting mix, watered with peroxide mix, sprinkled cinnamon and covered with a baggie. Worth a try...


Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Then I put the seeds in a little dish, heated water not quite to boiling, added a little H2O2, and covered the seeds,

That is new to me ... "not quite boiling"? Wouldn't that cook a seed?

When people use nail clippers for nicking: do they really take a little "bite" out of the coat? Or do they just slide one blade along the seed coat to get a slice? So0meone siad something once about the nail clipper preventing them from slicing a finger, the way they did when using a knife.

I was planning to glue some coarse sandpaper into a small box, like a match box. Insert seeds, close lid, shake. I'm clumsy.


(Ang) Bremerton, WA(Zone 8b)

Corey I've heard of people doing the nick and soak with Lupine but I've never done either. They come up like weeks but I think it's because Bremerton is so moist this time of year lol.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I've heard of people doing the nick and soak with Lupine but I've never done either. They come up like weeks but I think it's because Bremerton is so moist this time of year lol.

Yeah, "soak before sowing" is pretty redundant where we live. "Sow and hope they don't drown or get waswhed away" is more like it.

I just experimented indoors for the first time with Johnny Jump-Up seed (Viola tricolor, a.k.a. pansies).

They took a while to sprout and emerge, but most of them germinated just fine in fast-draining pine-bark mix - DESPITE what I see now in Plant Files, that they "need" stratification.

BTW: after months of "no action" in my WS tubs, yesterday I saw a sprinkling of teeny TEENY tiny green specks in several Penstemon WS pots. YAYY! I had given up. I think they needed some warmth after the long cold mosit stratification.

I'm leaving them inside the tubs for now, because my few other WS sprouts (Delphiniums and ?) disapeared within a few days of taking them out of the tubs. Slugs? Pounded by rain? Too cold?

I think it might defeat the point of WS to pot them up and bring them indoors under lights to coddle them. But maybe they need "hardening off" just to go from inside-the-tubs to outside-the-tubs.

I guess I will prick them out and pot them separately (still inside the WS tubs?) as soon as I can handle them, so the roots don't get tangled. This is about my thrid year trying to start Penstemons.


Troy, NY(Zone 5b)

I keep my delphinium seeds in the freezer and then sow. I have an entire flat of 72 growing and more belladonna type in another flat. I just pop them in jiffy peat pots and alternate them between the cool basement and the warmer upstairs. I also have lupine and penstamon going. No nicking or soaking or peroxide solution. just putting into the peat pots then under lights when they sprout. I think the more you fuss with them worse the results. If things don't come up right away be patient. This is the lupine and penstamon this morning.

This message was edited May 10, 2011 3:04 PM

Thumbnail by bookreader451
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I think the more you fuss them worse the results.

I would like to find a no-fuss way to start the difficult seeds. At least the WS Penstemon finally germinated! And some salvias are getting pretty vigorous in the plug tray.

Edited to say: a few of my WS Penstemon did sprout and emerge (almost microscopic). But they never got any bigger, and some seem to have crawled back under.

It was my first year WSing, and I'l;l try agian with faster-draining soil and more light, and hopefully a warmer Spring! But I think I'll also try some refridgerator-stratificiation in baggies with damp coffee filters.


This message was edited Jun 3, 2011 5:19 PM

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