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Seed Germination Instructions

Lithops seeds germinated on pumice
Lithops seeds germinated on pumice.

There are many ways to germinate seeds. Below are important steps you can follow to increase your success with germinating seeds of cactus and succulent species. Some species and seed types need special treatment. I have written down the most important exceptions. Feel free to mail me if you need any further help.

Basic steps for successful seed germination

  1. 1. Fill a container with good draining soil. We recommend 50% regular potting soil with 50% coarse sand, fine pumice or grit (1-3 mm). Remove any big chunks (peat) from the potting soil if needed. Divide the seeds on the soil.
  2. 2. Add a thin top layer of grit or coarse sand. If the seeds are extremely small (like Lithops) then do not apply a top layer. Thick seeds usually germinate better after a 24 hour soak in water.
  3. 3. Let the container soak up water (from beneath) for 5 minutes.
  4. 4. Let excess water drip away.
  5. 5. Put the container with seeds in a zip-lock bag or other transparent bag or box. Make sure humidity is high.
  6. 6. Most seeds germinate under light conditions at circa 24 °C.
  7. 7. Increase ventilation when most seedlings have appeared. Germination can take 1-4 weeks depending on species.
  8. 8. Never let your seedlings dry out. Keep watering the container from beneath to prevent damage from splashing water. Apply good ventilation to prevent infections with mold.

Cactus

Cactus seeds germinate fine using the above method. Thicker seeds from species like Opuntia can be soaked in water at room temperature for 24 hours prior to sowing.

Adansonia

These are thick seeds and need a 24 hour soak in water before sowing. Plant Adansonia seeds 1-2 cm deep in soil. Germination is erratic and can take 1-6 weeks. Sow in a deep tray to allow the taproots to grow downward.

Adenium and Pachypodium

Plant the seeds 1 cm deep in soil. Germination should be within 10 days at temperatures around 28 °C at very high humidity.

Dionaea, Drosera, Sarracenia

These carnivorous plant species germinate best on a mix of very moist peat and/or sphagnum with coarse sand. Do not cover the seeds. If they do not germinate within 3 weeks then place the entire seed tray in the refrigerator for 2 month to simulate winter time. Many of these species need a winter before they can sprout. Maintain a very high humidity. For detailed information on growing carnivorous plants from seed please check out these websites: GrowSundews.com and Carnivorousplants.org.

Lithops (and other Mesembs), Echeveria, Anacampseros, Sedum, Crassula

These species have tiny seeds which should not be covered with soil. They germinate best at 18-20 °C temperatures.

Palms

Usually thick seeds which need a 24-48 hour soak in warm water before sowing. Place the seeds in a zip-lock bag with some moist perlite, bims or cocos fibre. Keep at temperatures around 28 °C. Check the bags on a daily basis. Remove germinating seeds from the bags and plant in a deep container using a soil mixture of regular potting soil with 25% perlite or bims. Germination can be erratic and can take 1-6 months depending on species.

Strelitzia

Remove all the fluffy tufts from the seeds and then soak for 24 hours in warm water. Plant the seeds 1 cm deep in regular potting soil with 25% bims or perlite added. Germination can be erratic and can take 1-6 months.