Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds

This post goes over several different Seed Scarification Techniques.  To scarify your seeds is the damaging of the protective coating on a seed so it will break dormancy.  Yesterday I covered the topic How to Stratify Seeds.  You will notice that this article and yesterday’s article start out very similar, but the approach and end result are very different.

There are seeds that you can take right off the plant, put in the ground, and a new plant will start.  I did that with green beans last year.  I planted them, they produced beans (seeds), I picked them and planted them.  They grew into new bean plants and I did the same process again.  I did this for three generations in year.

Other seeds go dormant and do not allow this to happen.  They have protection that gives the plant a better chance of surviving.  Some require cold stratification as discussed in yesterdays article.  Others require scarification to get around a tough coating on the seeds, which is the subject of today’s post.

But first, lets take a look at why seeds would implement this strange behavior.  If a plant just dropped seed right below where the plant is growing and the seed immediately started growing, that species of plant would cramp itself and not spread very efficiently.  One mechanism to spread seed far and wide is to put a coating on the seeds that allow it to go on a rough ride.  That ride could be through a digestive track of a bird, bear or deer.  The digestive track does not ruin the seed, but causes minor damage to the coating of the seed allowing it to break dormancy.

Other plants have adapted to growing on banks of a stream and when the seed pods burst and the seeds land in the stream, they take a wild ride down the stream.  Along the way the rub up against the rocks and sand in the stream.  This action will rub the protective coating away and allow the seed to break dormancy.  Eventually the seed will get caught up in silt or mud and will sprout, propagating far from the mother plant.

Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds

Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds

If we have seeds that have this protective coating we need to fake the seeds into breaking the dormancy they are in.  We are basically going to “scar” the seeds with scarification.  There are several techniques to do this.  Some of the different seed scarification techniques include using sandpaper or very hot water.

The sandpaper technique involves using sandpaper or a small file to scar the seed coating.  After the seed is scarred, soak the seed in water overnight.  Most seeds will swell a little as they soak up the water.  I have used this technique several times and have had about a 60 to 70% success rate.

The picture titled Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds shows two seeds on sandpaper.  These are mesquite seeds that need scarification.  You can see that the seed on the top and to the left is not scarified and the seed that is a little lower and on the right was scarified by the sandpaper.

The other way to scarify your seeds involves hot water.  You bring a pot of water up to a boil and then remove it from the heat.  After it has cooled for just about a minute, you pour that hot water into a container with the seed and let the seeds soak in the water overnight.  The seeds usually swell when this is done.

After the seeds have soaked overnight you can plant them in fertile soil and they should be good to go.  The one caveat is that some seeds need to be scarified and then stratified.  This is were research on your particular seeds come into play.

Please check out the YouTube video below for seed scarification techniques and how to stratify you seeds.

Check out the Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds video as well as other videos like this at the Great Escape Farms YouTube channel .

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