Preparing Seeds for Spring
Hi Peter & Hap,
In August I finally had success in fertilizing two of my Echinopsis. Now the fruit has dried and opened. What do I do with the solid clumps of seeds to prepare them for planting? How long are they potent? When is the best time of year to plant them? What supplies will I need to pick up the next time I stop by your store?
Your seed can be freed from the dried fruit mass by gently rubbing it on a paper towel until the seeds separate from the dried fruit. Then you can sort of blow across them and usually the fruit bits weigh less that the seed and it blows away leaving the seed. Start with a gentle puff and see what it will take so the seed doesn’t go flying!
When you have the seed separated you can plant it all or save some for later, as long as you keep it dry and cool. Most cactus seed can last for years and still sprout. We start our seeds early spring, so in the next month or so it is a good time of year to plant them. We use domed seed trays filled with cactus soil, we scatter the seed on the surface and then barely cover with crushed Horticultural Charcoal (this acts as both a cover mulch and helps keep algae and mold growing on the soil under the high humidity of the domed seed tray. the charcoal also has chemicals in it that make the seeds think there has been a fire and it is a good time to sprout).
Next we mist the tray heavily with water, cover with the dome and put under lights or in bright, diffused light in the greenhouse. An east facing window will also work. But be careful if you use a west or south window as they can cook the contents of a covered seed tray.
Good luck and happy planting.