Geranium seed germination

San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

I just received my order from Swallowtail Seeds (which arrived in 4 days!) that includes a fair amount of geranium seeds . I expect slow germination but are there any other do's or don't's that I should be aware of? Would stratification in damp paper towels be beneficial? I would appreciate any input. Paul

This message was edited Oct 28, 2011 4:45 PM

Calgary, Canada

Some advise scarifying the seeds.
They seem to crumble for me, if I try to rub them on sandpaper.
So be gentle with the seeds.
They germinate fairly quickly under lights.

San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

L Scott, when you recommend germinating the seeds under lights, is it the light itself or the heat generated by the lights that aids the process, do you think? Or is it rhe combination of heat and light? Thank you for your prompt reply! Paul

This message was edited Oct 29, 2011 11:25 AM

Büllingen, Belgium(Zone 6b)

Paul, do you mean the real Geranium or the Pelargonium?

If you have the real Geranium, they'll need cold stratification or low temperatures, depending on the specie.


Calgary, Canada

I assumed that it was the Pelargonium type which is often grown as an annual,
but which can be perennial in warm climates.
I think both the light and the warmth promote germination.
I just press the scarified seed onto the surface of the soil.
Under lights they will germinate within a few weeks.
Keep the container under lights as there are always a few stragglers.

Büllingen, Belgium(Zone 6b)

SLScott, you are completely right with your info if it is the Pelargonium type, but since Geranium and Pelargonium are often confused, I wanted to tell the difference between germination of hardy Geraniums.


San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

Pelargonium it is, and props to you for asking for clarification, as it appears there are significant differences in their requirements. Paul

Calgary, Canada

Yes, the other Geraniums or cranesbill need different treatment to germinate from seeds. I would look them up in the data bases.

Dr. Deno's or the Tom Clothier site.

Palmdale, CA(Zone 8a)

Every Pelargonium seed I planted sprouted right away. It was as if they wanted to please, right from the start. Anyway, all I did was prep the soil, place the seeds horizontally on the soil surface, lightly cover with soil, and water well, and in 5 days, The seedlings were popping up. Today, I have almost flowering size plants growing happily in a window.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

" Would stratification in damp paper towels be beneficial? I would appreciate any input. Paul"
Yes, that is the way I do all my seeds, including daylily seeds. But first, I soak the seeds (all) in hand hot water over night to plump them up.

Next day place in a moist kitchen towel paper and stick in a baggie placed in the fridge for 2 weeks. Check the seeds for they will sometime sprout in the fridge. If not, bring the baggie to room temp. They don't need light until the have sprouted.

Below are hardy Geranium seeds sprouting in kitchen paper just prior to planting.

Thumbnail by blomma
San Marcos, TX(Zone 8b)

Blomma, do you know how long it took to begin sprouting after stratification began?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I looked it up in my book and I placed them in the fridge March 2. They sprouted March 20. I didn't mark how long they were in the fridge, or how long at room temp. They were sown in 2009. It was actually a test to see how viable all my different seeds were. They were old, some from 2001. I even did hardy Hibiscus seeds this way that were old. Nicked soaked then in kitchen paper placed in a warm spot. They sprouted in 2 days.

I will never sow seed in soil again. It is called the Deno method from Dr Deno who invented it. It also how my son sows his seeds. Works for veggie seeds also.

Eastlake, OH(Zone 5a)

I plant my geranium seeds in a soiless mix, no deepr then 1/4 inch. Cover them and water with warm water. Cover them with plastic wrap, and place on a heat mat, set temperature at 73 degrees. They should germinate in 3-7 days. Once they are up, place them under grow lights.

"Stay Happy and Keep Gardening!"

(Pam) Warren, CT(Zone 5b)

This is my first attempt at geraniums (pelargoniums) from seed. I decided on a mix of methods from DG and my past experience- special thanks to Blomma, and, of course, Deno. I soaked them - 10 seeds- in hand hot water overnight, then put them in a damp paper towel in a Baggie. (I used 10:1 water/peroxide throughout). I put the Baggie on a shelf above a light (not hot, just slightly warmer than ambient). In two days I had 4, and 4 more the next day. I discarded the other two, I don't need so.many. I planted them in ParkStarts sponges in a Biodome. The sponges are left over from last year. They smelled a little musty, so I soaked them in the 10:1 solution to clean them up. I moved the Biodome under the light- it's a T-5, also from last year. Now, two days later, they all look great. Probably tomorrow I will take the top off. When they are ready to move, I will put them in 2" pots that are deep enough to accommodate the sponges, and fill with potting mix.

One of my big challenges is space. I want a lot of variety, so that means using containers that are no bigger than they have to be for healthy plants. In April I will have a lot more room and can pot up if necessary.

Every year is a new learning experience!


Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Thanks Pam, Glad I was of help.

I should have mentioned that not all geraniums require stratification in the fridge. PELAGONIUMS are garden geraniums and not hardy. Only hardy geraniums require stratification---moisture with cold. PELAGONIUMS will benefit from moist towel but don't need the shilling in the fridge.

Below are my 4 different hardy Geraniums. Only "Vision" (dark pink) was started from seeds. No seeds are available for the otheres and the blue don't set seeds. Bought all from Walmart, except Vision. Seeds from Parks.

This message was edited Feb 19, 2012 10:28 AM

Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma
Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Hmm. I wish I had seen this thread two weeks ago when I had two packs of Swallowtail Geraniums to plant. Not having much experience with geranium seeds (I usually reproduce mine by cuttings taken indoors in fall) I just planted them in sterilized mix over a heating pad. all 10 from one variety sprouted in less than a week (but two are stunted and I don't think they will make it), but only 6 out of 10 came up from the other variety.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Don ~ I did the very same thing. I just put them in a mix under lights and over heat. They took a short time to emerge. So then I did the same with gerbera, and now they are up as well.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have grown pelargoniums from seed several times. I did no preparation. I simply put them on the surface of the soil (indoors) in peat pots under 40 watt florescent bulbs hanging from shop lights and got 100% germination in three days.

The seed were Park's Velvet series. The are expensive, but I have consistently gotten 100% germination from theis series of seeds..

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