Agrilife: Seed Germination

As I was visiting retail stores in Sulphur Springs, I noticed many starting to stock seeds for vegetables and ornamentals for the upcoming season. Although is exciting to plan ahead, is important to remember the basic biology of plants BEFORE committing to purchase seeds. A seed contains an embryonic plant in a resting condition, and germination is its resumption of growth. Seeds will begin to germinate when the soil temperature is in the appropriate range and when water and oxygen are available. However, most of your wildflower seeds will only germinate between specific soil temperatures. Optimum soil germination temperatures will vary greatly from one species to another. With soil temperatures extremely low or excessively high, growth of the seed is either slow and erratic or germination is entirely prevented. Not all of your seeds will sprout at the same time due to constant temperature fluctuations typically observed in nature.The most common cause of poor germination associated with wildflowers is the depth at which the seeds are sown. Small seeds should be planted on the soil surface and pressed or rolled in for best results since they contain only enough stored food for a limited period of growth. If the seedling is to survive, it must emerge from the soil and quickly begin to produce its own food. If seeds are too deeply buried beneath the soil surface, the seedling will either exhaust its food reserve prior to reaching the soil surface causing its death, or lack of sufficient oxygen will prohibit germination altogether. Here basic information provided by seed companies usually included with the seeds:

The average time period in which a particular variety will germinate given optimum conditions. Please allow a variance of plus or minus 25%.

The optimum temperature in degrees Fahrenheit for rapid germination. A steady temperature between the published limits, based on laboratory data, is recommended for best results.

An increment in inches has been included for each variety as a quick reference for optimum sowing depth. A good rule to follow, if in doubt about any variety, is to sow the seed at a shallow depth.

Due to the extremely small size of the seed, the area should be prepared and the seed sown directly on the surface of the soil, then pressed or rolled in. DO NOT COVER.

Remember that seeds germination depends on seed quality and the conditions provided to grow. It is both a science and art to germinate seeds and many plants are more difficult than others.

For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].

Mario Villarino DVM, Ph.D. Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR 1200B Houston Street Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482 903-885-3443

Author: Staff Reporter

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