Jackson, SC(Zone 8a)

a friend gave me a few morning glory seeds to a pinkish flower. the seed coating is like a rock. i tried toe nail clippers to no luck. is there an easier method then trying to hacksaw the seeds?


(Zone 7a)

Hi Imzadi,

I am so glad you asked - the sticky index needed fixing with regard to the nicking section, which is under Germination, and I wouldn't have known otherwise.

The big guns for nicking large MG seeds are exacto knives. Ron has posted some detailed information about them in the first link below, but let me add that these are extremely sharp, and it's easy to slip when holding the seed with one hand while welding the exacto knife with the other. So - be extremely careful.

DH uses exacto knives for his sculpture which are a little different from the ones Ron mentions. They have a metal handle and come with changeable blades that give different effects when carving. Local craft stores do not carry them - he has to go to a specialty store in art supplies across Baltimore City near Towson University.

As the second link below emphasizes, cut the end of the seed opposite the end that has the eye on it, and you only need to scratch until you can just barely see the "white" of the inside of the seed, because you do not want to damage the cotyledon inside.

Nicking Seeds
-- tools: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=3132693 (Post #3132693)
-- when and how to nick: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=3303432 (Post #3303432, Step 2b)

Hope this helps -


Jackson, SC(Zone 8a)

hmm yea it does and will try that but hope i dont cut my fingers. not to good with knive s. hehe

thanks Karen

Bessemer, AL(Zone 8b)

i don't nick mine. i soak them in peroxide for 24 hours then sow them. it works for me

Jackson, SC(Zone 8a)

might try the peroxide things. Thanks these things are rock coated i think. hehe

Mesilla Park, NM

Try soaking it for a couple of hours, then nick it with your nailclipper (then soak till it is swollen), it should be soft enough to penetrate the coat, if it is not, soak it some more but, keep watching it so it doesn't burst. the other thing is you can put it into a baggie, this is about the only time I would use a baggie, so that you can keep checking it. It might take a little bit longer but if you don't have alot of seeds to keep checking, it might work.

I've had to renick some seeds that I didn't get thru the first time, so I do it after I soften the seedcoat.

The other thing is you can use a nail file/emery board and file off some of the coat, or a little bit of sandpaper.

Be careful with the noseeums blades..lol

(Ronnie), PA(Zone 6b)

You may want to try the little cuticle clippers they use at the nail salons. They are more slanted than the toenail clips and a bit easier to use. If I nick mine I do like Gourd does and wait until after I soak them.

No exacto for me I like the 10 digits I have!!!

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

I grab the seed with a needlenose pliers, then I grind the seed on some coarse sandpaper until the white color of the internal seed shows. Then I soak the seed in water for a few hours and then it is imzadi bar the door with germination.

Jacksonville, AR(Zone 7b)

LOL Joseph.

Mesilla Park, NM

So true Joseph.. lol

Jackson, SC(Zone 8a)

hehe lol okay hehe

South West, LA(Zone 9a)

Ill second the sand paper Ive used it for all kinds of seeds.

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

I use a pliers to get a good grip on it and then a straight edge razor blade that is fresh and sharp in good light so I can see what I am doing. You want to shave a very thin piece off and soak it.

(who has ten intact digits)

Jackson, SC(Zone 8a)

hmm off to find pliers in hubbys garage. hmm might be easier to run to walmart. like my digits alot so better not mess with exacto knife. sand paper too cool. gonna make these things ge=rminate one way or another. hehe

Anderson, SC(Zone 7b)

There are toenail clippers that look like pliers - they're wonderful for nicking any seeds with.

Edited to add - I just nick the top point off my MG seeds, then put them in coffee filters, wet them, and put them in unclosed plastic baggies. Viola! Sprouts in the next 24-48 hours.

This message was edited Mar 28, 2008 2:20 PM

Oxford, NS(Zone 5b)

You can also use dog toenail clippers (the "guillotine" type) because it's hard to hurt yourself with those but the seed fits really nicely in the clippers, way better than with human nail clippers. They have a sort of a space with a blade that comes down vertically. That's what I use in any case, and it's good on dogs too!

Here is the brand I have.


Mesilla Park, NM

CMoxon, yeah.. I used those with the canna seeds one year, they really work, and will work great on Moonflower seeds.

(Zone 7a)

Thanks, all for chiming in with other types of nicking tools, procedures and their pros and cons - great discussion for the sticky index on nicking.

I like to soak a few hours before nicking at all, because those that visibly swell can be planted right away without nicking. Those that don't swell get nicked, resoaked a few more hours and so forth. That way, I lower the risk of destroying a seed by nicking. For me, this has worked best with large seeds like Ipomoea nil.

I've had some seeds do fine with 24 hours of soaking, but I seem to have more casualties through soaking that long - especially smaller seeds belonging to I. purpurea or Convulvus tricolor. Ipomoea tricolor seeds were also less appreciative of that long a soak. For some, sowing these seeds directly into a sterile germinating medium without soaking or nicking works best - with bottom heat maintained between 68*F - 86*F.

Seeds of Ipomoea alba (one of the moonflowers) - as big and hard as they may be - have never been as fussy with me as those nils. They respond to the same treatment as the other non-nils in the previous paragraph.

But, personally, as long as I find myself every spring with seeds that I have not grown before - especially if I only have a very few seeds - I'll incorporate the baggy method as part of my overall germinating technique so I can keep an eye on what's happening with the seed and adjust any soaking or nicking accordingly.

ps - to any newbies unfamiliar with the peroxide soak - be sure to dilute the peroxide with water. Ratios vary from person to person - I add about 1 Tbsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide (H202) to a pint of tap water. Now, the pros and cons of that are huge.

But - the best presentation of a soak for your MGs - including a recipe with ingredients listed and in what amount - that I have found is here:


Click on Edit in your tool bar, then click on Find, then type JLD_II into the search box and Jeff's recipe will come right up. If you ever find yourself experimenting with any of the other approximately 997 species of morning glories, this recipe has often worked for Rjuddharrison who has successfully grown quite an array of various MG species, many of which are also in his blog: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/rjuddharrison/

Well, soaking and nicking are certainly entwined with each other - can't talk about one without the other. With regard to soaking - Gourd, you've germinated and grown a huge variety of MG species, too - how does your soaking recipe compare to Jeff's? For the seeds that did not germinate for you, what would you do differently in the soaking and nicking departments?

I think it would be great to extend this dialog to other MG species, if possible.

Mesilla Park, NM

I don't know, I'll go check Jeff's.. lol and see if there is a difference.

Mesilla Park, NM

Karen, I couldn't find the tools, or the edit..

But, here is something that will go with no matter what you use to soak. Even if you manage to get a scratch on the seedcoat, it will let moisture inside and start the germination, it really doesn't have to be peroxide, surperthrive or anything like that, it can be plain water.

Birds scratch the seeds when they eat it and then they deposit the seeds where ever they fall... and germinate.. so as long as you provide some moisture to that seed.. you got great chances of germination... unless you are talking about seeds that need to see a fire, or some sort of special treatment, or grow in Alaska only, then you need to do your research.. But, MGs are pretty simple if you are a serious grower, you will get your heat mats, domes, (greenhouse) etc.. and make sure you give them optimal growing conditions.

edited for spelling (can't spell but can germinate seeds) I'm changing my name to:
The Germinator

This message was edited Mar 28, 2008 3:40 PM

(Zone 7a)

Very true about plain water and birds and Mother Nature. But, sometimes, we morning glory enthusiasts run into problems of mold, or perhaps a thin seedcoat with a seed that may not have completely ripened, or very old seeds, or unusual MG species beyond the commonly grown ones, or less than ideal conditions - so building a body of knowledge that may help those special cases or maximize success in germination has its uses.

Mesilla Park, NM

I've only had one wilt and it was because it got too cold for it. But, each person has to try out different things to see what works for them.

Have a great day.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

The Germinator...LOL Antoinette...would you then say "Hosta La Vista, bay-bee!"

Mesilla Park, NM

lol..lol.. now you have me going..lol I was laughing so hard, I couldn't type..

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

It is funny...he's your Governor! LOL

Mesilla Park, NM

WAS, not any more, I moved..lol.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Oy, you are right, my bad. puns that is.

Mesilla Park, NM

I better be careful, he might come back here too, he owns property in Northern NM near my family up North.. he could be Governor in NM too.. lol. they vacation there in the summers..

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