Test Seeds For Viability

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts

Test Seeds For ViabilityAs I write this, there are still nineteen days until winter actually begins. It will be another two to three months before I can start my indoor seedlings. It's hard waiting.


One thing I can do while I'm waiting is test my seeds for viability. This will reduce the chances of disappointment when I start my seedlings, later on. I keep seeds for as long as fifteen years. After that time, some will still have a high germ rate. Others will be completely dead. Testing ten seeds in a cup will tell me whether to allow an area in the garden for the whole lot of seed.

It's important to be informed as to the germination requirements of different seeds. You can find this information on the Internet. You will want to know the average time it takes for the seeds to germinate. Don't discard ungerminated seeds til you're sure they have been given sufficient time. Some seeds will germinate in as little as 24 hours, some will take up to a full year or more.

Some seeds require light for germination. In this case, the seeds would be just barely covered with soil, or not at all, just lightly pressed into the soil. Other seeds require darkness for germination and should be kept in darkness til sprouted.

Some seeds, probably most, require an average temperature of around seventy degrees for proper germination. Some require a higher temperature and some as low as forty degrees. There are even seeds that will not germinate until they have been through the heat of a forest fire.

So you see, with different seeds having different requirements for germination, it's best to take a few minutes to inform yourself as to the needs of each. You'll know what to expect when starting your seeds indoors or out, and the testing will give you a chance to do a wee bit of growing, mid winter.

Some time back, I was reading several entries with suggestions for getting moonflower vine seeds to germinate. Some suggested soaking the seeds. Others suggested nicking the seeds. Some suggested both. I've never had to do either, and still have germination in as little as five days.

As a matter of fact, I saved seeds from plants which grew from seeds that germinated in five days. I promised here, to let readers know what happened when I planted those seeds. The results are pictured below. Believe it or not, the parent seeds germinated in five days, and their progeny, the ones pictured, germinated in forty-eight hours.

I don't treat these seeds differently from any others. When I find why I have such good luck with germinating moonflower vine seed, I'll be sure to post that, too.


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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 293 Posts
December 10, 20141 found this helpful

This is a very good idea! Saves a lot of work later on. I will try this, thanks. You've got my vote! :)


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
January 3, 20151 found this helpful

I just discovered a website that undoubtedly provides the most complete, most comprehensive guides to planting various types of seeds. Covered are most all well known flower and vegetable seeds. Listed are best temperatures, moisture levels, light requirements, planting depth, providing cold treatment and much more to insure the highest germ rate. Do yourself a favor and check out this site.


January 5, 20150 found this helpful

Great idea! I have wasted a lot of time over the years on certain seeds never growing.

January 25, 20150 found this helpful

I had no trouble planting my seeds straight from the package in the ground and they came up just fine. The vine grew and flowers were forming - almost open. They would have opened the next morning; however, we had a freeze that night and I lost them... sniff. I will try again this year but plant them earlier!


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
January 27, 20150 found this helpful

Moonflower vine requires a rather long growing season. Planted outside after danger of frost is gone should give you a few weeks of bloom. If you want to extend that bloom period, you should start the seed early, indoors.


It is Jan. 27, and I already have Moonflower vine growing. One picture shows the germinated seed in the pudding cup a couple weeks, later. The other shows my first ThriftyFun post. It is Moonflower Vine started indoors in homemade paper containers.

Actually, you can start the seed as early as you like, as long as you can provide adequate light. The seedlings in the pot are set out in the Sun on bright days and brought in before night. By the time the last frost is over, they will be larger, hardened off ready to be planted, outside. This way, I will have extended my bloom time by about 2 months.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
January 27, 20150 found this helpful



Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
February 14, 20170 found this helpful

I am glad this post was brought out of the archives. I read it again and saw I promised to let readers know if I discovered why my Moonflower vine seed always germinate and do so quickly. I now have an answer.


After making that promise, I too, had many seed to germinate slowly or not at all. Now, I know why.

I keep seed for a long time, up to 15 years. A lot are still viable after that time. With the Moonflower vine seed, as with others, I keep each year's seed separate and write the year on the container.

I had accumulated so many seed, I planted all the oldest. Therein was the problem. The older seed were slow to germ and many didn't. I lifted and nicked all the ones that had not germinated after a month. I replanted these. About half of them did germinate about a week later.

To get a high germ rate and quick germination, always try to get last year's seed. There is no way of telling how long the seller has kept the seed, so your chances of getting fresh seed can be iffy. I suggest you buy seed from a large and reputable dealer. With a large turnover, they are more likely to sell the freshest seed.


A friend may be able to offer you last year's seed. Once you grow vines that produce seed, you will always have fresh, last year's seed. That's what I do.

One final note:

There are many flowers called Moonflower. Some are poisonous, others are not. Some bloom at night, others during the day. The Moonflower vine is non poisonous (I have eaten the blooms (I am not suggesting you do)), and it usually only opens at night.

The plant discussed in this article is Moonflower Vine, not Moonflower. So everyone will know what everyone is talking about, please refer to the Moonflower Vine as Moonflower Vine. Yes! and thank you.


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