Your method of germinating herb seed

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Dahc, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    I am starting some herbs this year and I have been wondering what some different methods of germinating herb seed ya'll may practice.

    At the moment, I have seeds for garlic chives, sage, rosemary, peppermint and spearmint. The garlic chives and sage, I wont have a problem with but the others are very small seed. I'm not sure why it is, but I do not germinate really small seeds well. I follow all the directions but it just doesn't happen for me. Can't explain it.

    Anyway, what are some of the methods you more experienced gardeners use?

    Scarification, bed warmers, just a green thumb?
     
  2. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    There is really no one method which works for all seeds. Some need light, some need stratifying, some need scarifying, some need complete darkness - etc. It pays to do your homework. Do some Googling, and search for something like 'cultivating rosemary' and you'll get the information you need.

    However, a broad rule of thumb is that the smaller the seed, the closer to the surface you need to sow it. In short, just barely cover the smaller seeds with a thin layer of fine sand. One way of sowing large quantities of small seeds is to put the seeds into a jar with some fine dry sand, and make a pouring hole in the lid of the jar and just spread your seed that way. You don't need to cover any further. Just water in very gently, and Bob's your uncle. You need to research which seeds like light, and which like darkness - it they like darkness, still sow shallow, but cover the seedling tray with several layers of damp newspaper, keeping the newspaper damp at all times. As soon as you see green stuff emerging, remove the newspaper, but keep the babies shaded.

    Another broad rule of thumb is that if your information reveals that a plant will self-seed, then you know it just needs surface sowing and light.

    You will also realise that plants native to cold climates may need stratifying - that just means that a period of refrigeration or freezing (to simulate a severe winter) may be required for the seeds to germinate. Plants native to hotter areas do not usually need stratifying. You can see how handy it is to know something about the origins of your plants!

    garlic chives: Seed can be sown, 5mm deep, in late spring if planting directly outside, and take 7-14 days to germinate and 75-90 days to be ready for harvest. Ideal temperature for germination is 20C, and germination occurs in less than 2 weeks.

    sage: Refrigeration of seed for several weeks may hasten germination rate. Ideal sowing temperature is 20C, and it should germinate in less than 2 weeks, but may take as long as 30 days. Seedlings require plenty of water, but develop drought tolerance as they mature.

    rosemary: : Seed is slow to germinate and not always true to the cultivar. Seed should be fresh. Ideal sowing temperature is 20C. Seeds need light to germination and should be lightly covered.

    peppermint: Peppermint does not breed true from seeds, and is usually sterile, so propagate by dividing established plants, or plant rooted runners in autumn or spring.

    spearmint: Seeds will germinate in 10-15 days.
     

  3. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    Thank you Culpeper, for posting those things. I have some questions.

    With the peppermint, you said that they don't breed true from seed and that the natural seed is usually sterile. Does this mean that if you buy a packet of seeds from a store, these seeds have been modified to ensure peppermint?

    With the rosemary: What does not being "true to the cultivar mean"? The seeds I have for this are Burpee seeds and are marked Rosmarinus Officinalis.

    I want to thank you again for posting that stuff.
     
  4. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    With the peppermint, you just have to hope that the seed company has been able to produce some seed from peppermint, and that it will breed true. If not, expect a low germination rate. You might find that the seeds are not true peppermint, but from some cultivar of it. That's OK, as long as the mint you get tastes like peppermint!

    If your rosemary has been labelled Rosmarinus officinalis and we assume that the labelling is correct, you should get the original rosemary, not one of the many cultivars of it. The cultivars (such as the ones with variegated leaves) generally do not breed true, but revert to the original. You should be happy with that.
     
  5. Dahc

    Dahc Don't Tase me, bro!?!

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    Thank you very much culpeper. Maybe I'll be able to germinate a few peppermints and baby them. It doesn't sound like their going to naturalise too well though. I really wanted old plain mint but the store didn't have it. Things will work out though. Thanks again.