Gardening Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day Sowing Seeds

Give Hard Seeds a Shake, Shake, Shake

Have fun filing your seeds one by one!

Some seeds have a very hard outer coat and are difficult to germinate. They tend to sprout irregularly or only after many weeks or even months, when the coat finally begins to soften. Among the more common seeds with hard seed coat are cannas, morning glories, hibiscus, lupines and mallows. For easier, faster germination, you can scarify the seed, that is to say slightly break the outer coat to allow water to penetrate.

Seed companies often recommend filing each seed (yes, with a wood file!) to scarify the seeds. Well, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t have the time to do this. Besides, I’d probably file off my fingerprints trying.

Easy seed scarifying.

Try the following method instead: roll up a piece of sandpaper and insert it inside a jar with the rough side facing inwards. Now place the seeds that need scarifying in the jar, screw on the lid and shake. When the seeds lose their luster, they’re ready for sowing.

Of course, you really don’t have to do all the shaking yourself. Make it a family project! Prepare several jars, turn on the the music and invite your kids or grandkids to dance with maracas you just made them. Everyone will have fun… and the job will be done in no time!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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