Handy Tips to Follow in Getting Tough Seed to Germinate

According to various experts who deals with hard to germinate seeds on a regular basis, there are various ways to get them going. But first, let us briefly explain why seeds are dormant in the first place to help give you a better understanding of seeds that are tough to germinate. Plant lovers may know that is natural for a seed to be dormant. That is until the conditions are favorable for it to germinate to ensure the survival of a particular plant species.

Most times some of the tougher seeds will refuse to germinate if not exposed to the right temperature, enough moisture, oxygen, or sufficient light. A lot also depends on the consistency of the particular seed. The coating could be very tough, resulting in a stubborn refusal so to speak to germinate. In nature, the seeds would rupture once it falls from the tree, or passed through the digestive tract of various animals. But there are alternative man made methods than can be used as well.

Elsewhere on this web site, we have discussed seed stratification for seeds like perennials. For tougher seeds, there are other methods that can be used such as scarification and soaking. Let us take a closer look at both these methods.

Scarification
In order to reproduce seeds successfully, avid plant lovers or hobbyists make use of certain plant strategies to speed up the germination process. Popular seeds like Moon flowers, Nasturtiums, and Morning glories comes equipped with hard coats, which makes it hard to germinate. Plant species like these have hard seed coating that prevent water from penetrating as well as the natural exchange of certain gases. If this process does not happen, then germination will not take place.

This is where scarification comes in handy. Gardeners will make use of a file, or sometimes even a pair of nail clippers, to scar the seed coating before sowing it. Some gardeners had success through using sandpaper as a way of initiating the scarification process. They will be careful not to hurt the plant embryo that is located just under the seed coating. Once the seed has been scarred, more water will be allowed into the seed, which in turn will set of the germination process. These manual methods might be slow, but it is certainly a very safe and effective way of encouraging the germination of the seeds in question.

Another method used for scarification would be to make use of percussion. This would be the process where the seed is repeatedly striked against a harder surface. The repeated percussion would eventually weaken the seed and allow the entry of water into the seed without causing any harm to the embryo. The percussion method is particularly useful for Locust trees, and is preferred over soaking the seed in hot water.

Soaking Your Seeds
Legumes that are also blessed with tough coats such as peas and beans tend to do better when soaked. Some also claim that this process helps to draw out harmful chemicals as well. It is best to soak the seeds of these legumes in water that is at room temperature. In most cases they need to be soaked for at least 24 hours.

Other seeds are briefly placed in boiling hot water, then immediately removed, and left to cool while remaining in normal room temperature water for another 12 hours. This type of treatment is suitable to seeds who are less tough and generally germinates a lot easier.

Acid treatment is yet another way to help germinate a tougher seed. The harder seed coats that were dormant for much longer, generally germinate quite well through chemical means such as concentrated sulfuric acid that often gets used to break stubborn seed dormancy. This method proved to be effective for temperamental and subtropical plant species like the Gleditsia triacanthos.

Thankfully humans have developed various techniques through microbial, thermal, or mechanical methods to ensure the continued reproduction of hard coated seeds like, for example, Nasturtiums, Noon flowers, and other tough seeds. We plant enthusiasts and hobbyists are grateful to fellow gardeners and scientists who have taken it upon themselves to find ways and means to encourage stubborn seeds to germinate.