Sowing dust sized seed

Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

Anyone try this, and what is your best method? How do you even handle the seed? How do you spread them?
I'm getting ready to sow some weigela, and it's smaller than dust particles!

Büllingen, Belgium(Zone 6b)

I sowed a lot of dust sized seeds. I take them between my thumb and finger and spread them out about 6 inches above the container. If you keep your fingers lower, they will not spread very well.
Others mix the seeds with fine sand.
Anyway, please be aware that such tiny seeds almost always need light to germinate, so don't cover the seeds.


Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

Thank you very much Jonna...I've been eyeing some of your seeds over in the Marketplace, and appreciate the help :)

Hopkinton, MA(Zone 5b)

JonnaSudenius, thanks for the sowing advice!


Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I gave some seeds to a nurse once, and we talked about precision-sowing tiny seeds. She gave me a blunt-ended needle and explained that you could use suction to pick up a slightly bigger seed (held against the needle's opening by vacuum), then very precisely 'puff' it off the needle.

I have the rubber bulb from a big eyedropper, but a turkey baster bulb would work, too. Or a long plastic tube (I could suck on it for vacuumn).

Now I need to glue the two together somehow.

It would be a home-made version of Gadget #9 here:

The bore of the needle is too big for the REALLY small seeds like alyssum, that give me the most trouble trouble. I'll have to stick some cotton into the bore of the needle to partly block it. Or try to get a variety of different-size blunt-end needles without anyone thinking I'm a junky!

I also use the first two kinds of sowers shown in this link. But when a seed gets much smaller than Brassicas, they don't work very well.

I've used them to "tap out" 1-10 seeds at a time onto a saucer of contrasting color, then pick up 1-3 seeds at a time with my fingers, then brush them off into cells or inserts.

Zg, Croatia

Take an ordinary slightly blunted graphite pencil, rub it gently on the moist soil to get some moisture on the graphite tip, pick up any kind of seed with it and gently rub off on soil. works with an array of small seed sizes and you can get fairly precise with a bit of practice!

Florissant, MO

When I'm working with tiny seeds (and don't have a lot of them to sow) I usually keep a wooden tooth pick (tp) in my mouth. When I'm ready to move a seed, I take the tp out of my mouth and gently touch it to the seed. The seed sticks to the end of the tp and is easily dropped in place by a slight shaking or tapping of the tp. Works very well!

Calgary, Canada

And sometimes----in a hurry----just sow them in clumps and separate the seedlings later.

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Boy, these are great ideas! I don't know anything much more frustrating or challenging as far as gardening goes. I've about resorted to seed tape and transplants of some things. . .lettuce, petunias-whew! Gives me a crick in my neck just thinking about it!!

Burlington, MA

allysum, foxglove and the other microscopic-dust-like seeds ... I soak 6 to 24 hours in a glass and spread them with a teaspoon filled with water and the seeds.

Or I wet my fingers and use my fingertip to pick up a hundred tiny seeds and rub my fingers together to distribute them over 10 or 20 seed starter units with seed starter potting soil.

Once they grow to a half inch tall or so pluck em out and plant them into newspaper or other plantable containers the roots can grow thru.

The foxgloves hate being transplated but if you catch them small (1/2 inch) they are easy to transplant.

The newspaper ogigami allows the difficult foxgloves to grow up.

When the roots begin to show thru the bottom and sides let the newspaper container get very dry and then transplant it. Water after transplanting.

-- Chris

other small seeds petunias, amaranth, black-eyed susan, daisy

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> Or I wet my fingers and use my fingertip to pick up a hundred tiny seeds and rub my fingers together to distribute them over 10 or 20 seed starter units with seed starter potting soil.
>> Once they grow to a half inch tall or so pluck em out and plant them
>> foxgloves hate being transplated but if you catch them small (1/2 inch) they are easy to transplant.

Thanks, I'm adding this to my seed-starting notes.

What size cells do you use to sprout in? 2"? 4"? I'm thinking of the six-packs where 72 cells fit in one 1020 tray, 1.5" square at the top. Do you think 18-cells-per-tray would be better, (3.1" square)?

When I sprinkle seeds over multiple cells, I tend to "overspray" (miss the cells I wanted) and also get a lot of seeds onto the dividers between the cells. Misting washes seeds off the dividers and into the soil mix, BUT then many seeds wind up close together, stuck between the edge of the cell and the soil.

I've been trying to think of a way to get multiple tiny seeds seeds to stay near the centers of cells, but have not found one yet.

I plant Lobelia similarly to what you describe: (multiple seeds per cell but then I pot them up as a clump).

Petunia seeds are expensive enough that I try to get just 1-2 into each cell, but I'll try your method of trransplanting tiny seedlings.

I have so much saved Alyssum seed that I just direct-sow by broadcasting, but I'll try your method next year with smaller qunatitites of seeds received in trades. Would you pot up Alyssum as single plants, or in clumps of 4-8 seedlings?

I just bought some varieties of Viola seed, and your method sounds ideal. There is so little seed in each pkt that I dion 't want to waste any seedlings!

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

This turkey baster is a must for every gardener. I use it to gently water seedlings. It will also spread the seeds to whatever container you use. Photo below

My favorite for dustlike seeds is damp peatmoss. Spread the seeds into it and gently stir so they are in contact with the peat. Do not cover. After they sprout, pick small chunks of seedlings/peat and place it in a pot or whatever. Gently pat the peat/seeds down to be in contact with the soil. Once they become large enough to know that they will survive, snip off some to give the remainer some room to grow and develop

Just my 2 cents worth. .

This message was edited Apr 23, 2013 10:40 PM

Thumbnail by blomma
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thnaks, blomma. It does sound easier to sort out small seedlings than microscopic seeds.

I might even get over flinching when I touch tiny seedlings.

>> This turkey baster is a must for every gardener.

I got into trouble with my SO when I mixed up the kitchen baster with my garden baster! And soemt6imes when bailing out a tray with too much water one squirt at a time, I wish I had a small wet-dry vac .

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I use to do a lot of beading. The seed bead came in plastic tubes about 1/4" diam. I kept the topper on and the other end (bottom) I cut off on a slant with a razor blade. It works great for all size seeds that are small to mid. Just tap it with one finger lightly to move the seed down towards the open end.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Blo9mm a, I've treid that on a micro scale using short lengths of soda straws slit lengthwise and then wrapped tighly around chop sticks, thin dowels or bamboo skewers.

I slice the open tip on a diagonal, and sometimes cut a little of the point off.

The result is a tiny 'spoon' shaped like a tube. I could scoop up truly tiny amounts of dust-like seeds, like just enough to sow one 2.5" pot or insert cell.

But my hands shake too much to sprinkle that micro-pinch uniformly. I tended to drop them in a clump, sometimes before I got the spoon from the seed pkt to the pot.

P.S. The4 red one was taped in pla ce so that it could SLIDE in or out to make a bigger or smaller scoop. But only a coordinated person could use it! I had to scoopp a tiny amount with the tip, then slant the spoon so that the seeds slid back to the base of the spoon.

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Calgary, Canada

This week some Mimulus seeds came.
There are so few seeds that I thought the packages were empty.

I placed a small cotton pad (the kind made for removing makeup) into
a small plastic salad dressing container. Soaked the pad with diluted peroxide.
Then sprinkled seeds onto the moist cotton pad. It fits nicely on a south window sill.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Are the radicles likely to become entangled in the pad?

Cotton gauze has such an open weave that I would worry. But I'm not very familiar with makeup paraphenalia!

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Calgary, Canada

The pad will pull apart when wet.
There is no weave to it.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Sounds good!

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Tiny or dustlike seeds are best surface sown on fine peat moss.

Highlands, NJ

My grandfather used to use a salt shaker. He would use masking tape to cover all but one whole in the shaker.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Sometimes I take a pill bottle with a plastic lid and drill one small hole in it, and use as a shaker. But not for dust-sized seeds, only for smallish-but-not-tiny seeds.

Usually when direct-sowing outside, the seeds as as big as lettuce or broccoli, and those are easy. I pour half as much seed as i want to sow into a small white bowl. Thin I take multiple small pinches from that and sow each pinch kind of broadcast by rubbing thumb and finger tips together as I move my hand over the area. I try to spread those pinches out evenly over the whole area.

Then I pour the second half of the seeds into the bowl and repeat, again trying to cover the whole area evenly. I figure that any gaps are more likely to be filled in that way.

Then I spread sifted soil, or sifted soil plus compost, or sifted soil plus vermiculite, or just vermiculite, over the seeds to the depth I want.

Oh, yes, I level and firm the soil before I start, and firm down the top layer after I'm done. Then I set up 1-2 sprayers for each bed so i can run the irrigation system briefly 1-2 times per day to keep the surface moist.

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