Very Tiny Seeds

There are some plants that we would like to grow from seed, like Begonias, that have very tiny seeds. About 2,000,000 seeds per ounce. These require some special techniques and care if we are going to be successful.

When ? The biggest requirement is time. If they start out that small it is, obviously, going to take them longer to reach a mature transplant size. My Begonia seed is in the ground before January is finished. This should give us reasonable sized plants to go outdoors by late May.

Soil ? A fine particled soiless mix will work best for these very tiny seeds. You have to be able to produce a relatively smooth surface for the seed to lay on. If the seed falls between large soil particles or into deep holes, they might germinate but the tiny plants will never be able to reach the surface. The soil must also be quite soft even when compressed to make a smooth surface. Such tiny roots don’t have much penetrating power.

How ? Do not plant Begonia seed when you have a cold. One sneeze and these tiny bits will be dispersed over your entire room. To guarantee an even distribution the seeds can be mixed with some dry sand or other fine granule and then you have a much larger quantity of material to spread over the soil surface. However you do it, spread the seed as evenly as possible over the entire surface of the container that you are using. It is very easy to have them slide out of the package in one motion and wind up in a pile that you cannot see to separate. Do not cover the seed. Light helps their germination and even on your smooth surface they will settle between the particles of soil and get enough of their surface area in contact with the moisture holding soil.

Water ? These very tiny seeds must remain evenly moist until they have germinated; a process that can take up to 2 weeks. Overhead watering moves them around on the soil surface and should be avoided as much as possible or done with a very fine spray. Soak the soil after planting by standing it in a container of warm water and then keep it covered with a clear covering, (inside a clear plastic bag works,) that will prevent the soil surface from drying out.

Temperature ? Most very tiny seeds like Begonias need a relatively warm soil in order to germinate. Heating mats and cables can be used to maintain the necessary soil temperature.

Transplanting ? These very tiny seeds will eventually germinate into little green specks on the soil surface. Continue to water them gently and they will grow into small plants. Transplant them into pots or cell paks when they get big enough that handling them seems like it might be possible. Don’t hurry, unless you seeded them so thickly that they are crowding each other.

When you open the seed packet, this looks like a very daunting task but just treat them carefully and they will easily reward you with a garden full of blooms.

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