I have what I think are seeds growing on my pink geranium. I have been letting them turn brown and then gently removing them and storing these in a paper bag in a dark dry spot.
Do I test these in the same manner as most seeds to see if they are going to germinate? When would I put these outside? Should I start them inside first?
Hardiness Zone: 7b
Kelly from western NC
You didn't mention whether or not your geraniums were the hardy, or non - hardy type, but both can be germinated and started indoors. Geraniums are programmed to 'launch' their seeds at maturity, and can be notoriously difficult to collect. First, make sure that the dry, brown plant material you have been saving still contains the actual seeds. The seeds themselves are oblong or corkscrew - shaped and are inside husks that are attached to feathery tails. In the future, a fail - safe way to capture them is to cover the flowers with muslin to catch the seeds as they launch.
Try starting both hardy and non - hardy geranium (Pelargonium) seeds using the following method, keeping in mind that hardy geraniums may also benefit from cold treating in order to coax them into germinating.
Start by placing the seeds on a moistened paper towel to hold them in place. It will be easier for you later if you line them up facing the same direction - pointy side down. Then using a needle, carefully scratch a line down the middle each seed case from top to bottom. You don't want the cut too deep, but just deep enough to penetrate the hard casing. After scoring the seeds, place the moistened paper towel in a dish or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap. Use a spray bottle to mist the paper towel, making sure that both the paper towel and the seeds are thoroughly saturated with water. Put the container in a dark place that is about 75ºF.
If the seed casings have been scratched deep enough, within 3 - 4 hours of scoring they will absorb enough of the moisture in the dish to split open their casings. If after that time they are still hard, you may need to scratch them again. Monitor the seeds over the next 24 - 48 hours, moistening the paper towels with a spray bottle and once split, gently removing the seed casings to allow for unrestricted growth.
During this time, you'll be able to easily identify non - viable seeds when they turn soft and start to smell rancid. Discard these. Once the sprout is about 1.5 cm in length and you can see signs of tiny leaves opening out (usually around 7 - 10 days), transfer them to a pot filled with a seed - starting medium or light potting soil. Use the tip of a pencil to make a tiny indentation to drop the 'rootlet' into. Gently surround it with the potting medium and moisten the area with a spray bottle. You can also bypass the viability test and sow seeds directly into pots without scoring, covering them with 1/8 inch of moist soil. Expect germination to take longer, and your success rate to be lower.
Continue to grow indoors in bright light or under fluorescent lights. Harden them off for 7 - 10 days before transferring outdoors (as soon as danger of frost has passed).
Geraniums are slow growing, so patience is necessary. They can take as long as 15 weeks to flower after sowing.
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