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The most important thing is to use a good seed germination soilless mix, one that consists of peat moss, perlite, and in some mixes, also vermiculite. It should also contain plant nutrients. The one we sell is called Sun grow. Many are available. An example is Miracle Gro Seed Starter Mix, sold at big box stores and on Amazon.
Shown here, as an example, is a 1-cup amount of germination mix and several containers. To the dry mix, add enough tap water to uniformly moisten it. It should feel moist but not wet. A 1-cup amount of mix usually requires 5-6 tablepoons of water, but some require a little more or little less. Use enough mix to provide a layer that is at least ½ inch thick in your container. Put the moist mix in the container and flatten the surface gently with a spoon.
SOW THE SEEDS.
the seeds are very tiny. Carefully remove them from the glassine envelope onto a piece of paper. Then carefully sprinkle them as evenly as possible onto the surface of the germination mix, tapping the paper as you move it over the surface of the mix. Enclose the container in a plastic bag or cover it with a lid to provide a humid atmosphere. Under these conditions, the germination medium should remain moist and water will condense under the lid. Do not allow the medium to dry out.
TEMPERATURE AND LIGHT.
Temperature and light are important factors for optimal germination. Ideal temperatures range from 70-80 F (21-27 C). Best light comes from placing the sowed surface around 10 inches below a fluorescent light source. Keep the lights on around 10 hours per day. A simple timer is useful. If artificial light is not available, window light (but not direct sunlight) can suffice, but germination and growth might be slower.
The seedlings begin to show at the 14th day after sowing as tiny green specks on the surface of the mix. At cool temperatures it takes longer for the specks to appear. They don’t all show at the same time. Most, but not all, of the seeds will have germinated by the four weeks after sowing. The seedlings shown at left were photographed at five weeks after sowing. Growth is rather slow at the beginning but accelerates later on. Patience.
The seedlings can be transplanted at various stages of growth. In this example, the pot in the left-most photo shows seedlings at eleven weeks after sowing, which is a good transplanting stage. Those seedlings were removed as a whole, then teased apart. The 32 largest ones were selected for transplanting to 32 2.5 inch square pots, which evenly fit in a 10×20-inch tray. Seedlings can be transplanted when smaller or even when much large than those shown here.
Seedlings should be transplanted using a soilless mix composed of peat moss and perlite; some mixes also contain vermiculite. I use a mix called Pro Mix HP (High Porosity). Many commercial soilless mixes work as well. Prepare the pots with moist mix ahead of time in order to plant the seedlings right after they are separated.
The tray at middle-right shows how the seedlings looked after transplanting was complete. Also shown, near the middle of that picture, are six seedlings planted as an experiment in a 2×3 section of Jiffy Strips. The results eventually showed that plastic pots were better because the Jiffy Strips dried out too quickly.
Freshly transplanted seedlings benefit from growing under a dome(far-right) while recuperating from transplant shock. This is not totally necessary unless you are growing in a very dry atmosphere. The dome can be removed after around a week. When the plants grow too big for their 2.5 inch pots, transplant them to 3.5 in pots. They should come into bloom at around 6-7 months after sowing. Enjoy!
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