Seed Starting: Success Stories, Problems, Ect.

rollwithak

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Hi All,

I tried to look for a similar thread and couldn’t find! I have started my indoor seed starter operation and am just looking to have a place where we can share tips/tricks, what’s worked for people and what hasn’t. Perhaps find some common issues that are easily avoided.

I have been doing what I thought to be sufficient. I acquired seed (some purchased and some I collected), I stratified and scarified many that needed them. I have got heat mats, humidity domes and much more to start a successful indoor seed grow for trees. My lights are putting out an average of 300-400 PAR.

I’ve got japanese maple, mugo pine, torrey pine, Japanese black pine, olive, Monterey cypress and Chinese red bud going currently. This far I’ve had 1 red bud sprout which you’ll see in the picture, and one JBP, which quickly died.

I’ve got them in a layer of soil with most of them having a sand top layer that the seed went into. I’m trying to stay on top of keeping them watered. There are even layers of algae starting to grow on top.

I’ve been slightly discouraged as I feel I’m doing things correctly, but results have been lackluster to say the least!

Ready for all your experiences and opinions!!!

Thank you in advance!!! 😁👍🏼

Ryan
 

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Wires_Guy_wires

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I have some experience with pine seedlings, I do a bunch every year.
You'll be reading a lot about seedling cuttings. It's because that works well to create a nice nebari. But, it also means you'll probably lose a couple of seedlings due to the process of making cuttings. Mine got a serious larval issue, so I lost around 350 seedling cuttings in a couple of weeks.
I found that pines sown in shallow trays (1.18 inch/ 3cm), don't grow a whole lot in the first year. In the second year, they'll produce large adult needles and still be less than an inch tall. In the third year, you'll have a radial nebari, low budding and no need for seedling cuttings.
When sown in deep trays, pines tend to send out a tap root to the bottom of the container that branches out on the bottom, the only way to correct that is through making cuttings. Or acceptance..

When starting indoors, which I tried and I'm not a fan of, you can expect the transition to outdoors to take a couple of months. Let's say three, three months for at least the conifers to adapt to regular sunlight. The sun will burn/bleach some of the foliage during that transition, start in the shade and gradually move towards full sun. In some peoples lives, that's precious time being wasted. So they move outdoors as fast as possible. I can recommend you do the same. To me it feels weird to have an indoor system running while the sun is doing the same outdoors.

Keep in mind that young pines can bud from anywhere on the juvenile foliage part. If you pinch the apex (or growing tip) out of a few, you'll notice that you can get them to produce side branches in the first year. This means you'll have movement in the trunk from the start. Combine that with a shallow tray, and there's no need for risky cutting-stuff.

Good luck!
 

Mikecheck123

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I will also warn about the transition to outside. That's been a huge cause of seedling loss for me.

So I find that it's one million percent simpler to just sow them outside. Problem solved. (As long as the slugs don't get to them.... bastards.)
 

Shibui

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There is so many possible problems with starting seedlings inside. Light, lack of air movement lead to poor growth and fungal issues. I get much better results letting Mother nature do the work and I don't need to purchase all that growing gear. Sow seed outside and let them germinate when they feel that the weather is right.

Stored acer seed can be difficult to germinate. It is still viable but goes into deep dormancy and needs special conditions to get it to germinate. Fresh seed harvested last autumn germinates really well so use fresh seed wherever possible.

JBP normally germinate really well without any pre treatment. Dry and damping off disease are the 2 biggest killers of all seedlings, including pines.

I have also given up the pine seedling cuttings. While some grow excellent radial roots others grow only a few so not really an improvement over natural seedlings in my view but maybe that's down to my technique.
I get better results just by good root pruning of the young seedlings as they are potted out into individual pots.
Nipping the tops out of very young seedlings forces a number of side buds very low as outlined above. That gives opportunity for trunk bends and low sacrifice branches which are both useful in pines. I can also strike the juvenile tips as cuttings easily.
Pine seedlings with long roots can be root pruned quite hard with good success. While young they can easily grow new roots so even severe root pruning is not a problem.
 

rollwithak

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I understand the point of growing outdoors, which makes obvious sense to do! However the notion of starting the seeds indoor was in order to allow me to do this on a more permanent basis year round, instead of only being able to do it once a year when the weather was right.

I thank you all for your input though!
 

BrianBay9

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Metrosideros from seed - street trees in South San Francisco. These are beginning their fifth growing season.
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I start seeds indoors in the fridge. Especially for dried seeds, it helps to cold stratify them, so put them in a damp paper towel in an open ziploc bag, when roots grow, plant them in growing trays outside.
 

rollwithak

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I start seeds indoors in the fridge. Especially for dried seeds, it helps to cold stratify them, so put them in a damp paper towel in an open ziploc bag, when roots grow, plant them in growing trays outside.
This might be a way that I messed up. I stratified them in the same exact process you’re speaking of, but I only left them in the amount of time it recommended. They weren’t sprouting but I planted them just the same. Maybe I need to wait until they are sprouting before putting them in.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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This might be a way that I messed up. I stratified them in the same exact process you’re speaking of, but I only left them in the amount of time it recommended. They weren’t sprouting but I planted them just the same. Maybe I need to wait until they are sprouting before putting them in.

That's another reason why starting outdoors can be an advantage: spring temperatures fluctuate, and they help breaking the dormancy. Indoors, temperatures are way less variable.
Then again, a cold stratification alone should suffice on most cases. It can take a while before they wake up though. I have had juniper seeds in the fridge for 3 months, they have been sown four weeks ago and theh're just barely germinating.
 

sorce

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When I was reading about all the equipment....

I was like....

Here's the problem!

There's way too much to do year round to be messing with seeds all the time!
Use the rig to grow profitable MJ seeds and buy trees!

Sorce
 

Ohmy222

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I get them in fall, put them in pots outside, and watch them grow when they are ready. Pretty simple but I am not concerned with yield as I may get 100 seeds but only want 10-20 max in reality. Also in a warmer zone You do have to put screen on any larger seeds like beech or oak or else critters will get them. I find seed germination to be inversely proportional to cuttings. Those that don’t root well with cuttings like oak, beech, and a lot of conifers germinate very easily. Deciduous are more hit or miss but really works out well.
 

rollwithak

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When I was reading about all the equipment....

I was like....

Here's the problem!

There's way too much to do year round to be messing with seeds all the time!
Use the rig to grow profitable MJ seeds and buy trees!

Sorce
Guessing El Sorcorito would want me to send some "samples" his way to make sure it's not poisonous right? o_O;)
 
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