Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds

Seed Scarification Techniques | Scarify Your Seeds

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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How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification

How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification

How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification

This post, titled How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification, explains why you need to stratify seeds and how to stratify seeds.

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.

How to Stratify Seeds

How to Stratify Seeds

Other seeds go dormant and do not allow this to happen.  They have protection that gives the plant a better chance of surviving. If certain seeds started growing right away and a frost or freeze hits them when they are very young and have not established a good root system yet, they will likely die.  A protection method that plants have is to stay dormant until the seeds have had a period of cold weather and then warmth.  Many seeds require 90 days or more of this cold weather to break dormancy.  The cold needed is usually 34 to 39 degrees.

We can force plants to break dormancy by giving them what they need – damp, cold conditions for a period of time. This process of breaking dormancy via a period of cold weather is called stratification.  The way I do it is to take a paper towel, wet it, squeeze all the water out so it is just damp and then put seeds on it.  Once the seeds are on the paper towel, I fold it up, and put it in a sandwich bag.  Make sure you label the sandwich bag with the type of plant and when the plant needs to come out based on how long it needs to stratify.  You can see my bag labeled with the seeds wrapped in a paper towel in the picture titled “How to Stratify Seeds”.

Now take any sandwich bags that you have seeds to stratify in and put them in a brown paper bag to limit the amount of light that the seeds get.  Now put the brown paper bag in a refrigerator.  I usually put mine in a drawer just so it is out of the way.

After the time is up, pull the sandwich bag out and let it sit at room temperature for a day.  At this point the seeds are ready to plant in soil.

You will find variations of this process that use Pete moss and other things.  The damp paper towel has not let me down yet.  I have done everything from exotic perennial seeds to apple seeds and they always have a pretty good success rate.

Check out the YouTube video below for a video of the entire process of How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification.

 

See this video, How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification, and more at the Great Escape Farms YouTube Channel.

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Please give us your feedback on How to Stratify Seeds | Start Seed Stratification by commenting below.

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening

This post, Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening, provides information on care and edibility of this medicinal wonder plant. The purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea,  is a showy flower that will add color and texture to any flower garden. The flowers are long lasting usually displaying the purple-pink color for the entire summer. I have been growing purple coneflower for fourteen years now and found that they are very hardy, tolerate neglect and drought well and are little affected by any pest pressure.  It is a perfect plant for forest gardening.

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening Purple Cone Flower

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening

Purple Coneflower is a perennial flower hardy in USDA zones 3-8 (one site stated zone 2-10) and native to the eastern United States. It has purple daisy like flower heads, blooms from June until September, grows two to three feet tall and prefers full sun. The flowers can be used in wildflower gardens, as cut flowers, and as dried flowers. Cut flowers last seven to ten days in a vase.  The pictures in this post were taken this morning – October 6th and I still have some plants blooming.

They have a vertical stalk with a flower on top. The stalk has leaves on opposite sides of the stalk. The leaves on the stalks are teardrop shape with the narrow end away from the stalk. The leaves can be up to 4” long and 2” wide and are smaller the higher on the stalk they are.

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening Purple Cone Flower

Purple Coneflower Care | Purple Coneflower in Forest Gardening

Dividing the crown into multiple clumps and replanting can propagate purple coneflower. Seeds can be planted as well. The seeds need to be planted in the fall or stratified over the winter (stratified means wetting and putting in a cold environment 35-40 degrees). I seem to have volunteers (self seeded from previous year) every year and just transplant the volunteers when I need some new plants.

In the Maryland area beetles seem to like to eat the petals off at night. This plant attracts bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects like the soldier beetle. I also have one area where a vole or mole eats the roots every year. Somehow the plants survive and come back. In the Mid-Atlantic we have a fair number of gold finches (pretty little yellow birds) and they love to eat the seeds of the coneflowers in August and September. According to multiple sites that I have run across deer tend to leave this plant alone.

According to the USDA, Echinacea is widely used as an herbal remedy. The USDA goes on to say; “A purple coneflower product containing the juice of the fresh aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea was found to make mouse cells 50 -80 percent resistant to influenza, herpes, and vesicular somatitis viruses.” *

(Source: USDA http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_ecpu.pdf)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.