Seed no-show?

Seed no-show? You put in some seeds… but nothing came up. Poor seed germination can be mystifying and frustrating for the home gardener, but there are a number of common causes, from temperature to soil depth and lots in between.

Was it too hot or too cold when you sowed them? Before you sow, always check the back of the seed packet for recommended planting times in your climate. Keep in mind that you can push the boundaries: use a heat mat or sunny windowsill for starting summer crops early, or find a cool spot to kickstart winter crops.

Were they planted at the right depth? Again, check the packet. If you sow too deeply, sprouts may lack the energy to push their way to the top and end up rotting. Too shallow, and it becomes difficult to maintain the moisture required for germination to take place.

Did you check the ‘sow by’ date? Fresh seed germinates more readily. Even seed that is just inside the sow-by period can be hit and miss. Before you throw an old packet out, tip all the seed into a bowl of water and soak overnight, then lay seed between two sheets of moistened paper towel. Put this in a plastic bag to retain moisture, place in a warm shaded spot and check daily. If any seeds sprout, pot them up and grow them on.

Did they get enough water? Most seed requires constant moist conditions to germinate, so check the seed-raising mix regularly to see if they need watering or misting. If they dry out too often, they may lose interest. A good way to stop the mix drying out is to cover the container with clear plastic and place it in bright shade. Most large seeds, however, detest being constantly moist, so let the soil or mix just dry out before re-wetting to avoid them rotting and failing.

For more tips on sowing everlasting daisy and gymea lily seed, pick up a copy of the May issue, on sale now.