Although seeds purchased from reputable sources should germinate well, most seed packages recommend planting multiple seeds per plant, information that you can find on the packet. This helps to ensure germination and get the strongest possible seedlings.
The number of seeds you need to plant depends in part on the germination rate for the seed. New, certified seed must meet a minimum germination percentage, determined by local regulatory agencies. When saving your own seed, only 60 to 85 percent generally germinate, according to information on the Virginia Cooperative Extension's website. This affects the number you'll need to plant, and if you expect the germination percentage to be lower than usual, plant extra seeds to compensate.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension's website recommends planting two to three seeds and then thinning them to leave the strongest seedling. If you have only a few seeds and you do not want to waste them, pregerminate one between a moist, folded cotton cloth and, if it grows, transplant it into your garden or a container.
As seeds age beyond one year, the germination percentage drops. When using older seeds, the Washington State University's extension agent recommends placing ten seeds between a damp cloth to calculate the germination percentage. If it is between 60 and 70 percent, you will need to sow more than the usual two or three seeds in order to guarantee a single strong plant. If it is 50 percent or below, it is recommended you discard the seeds.
- Photo Credit seedling image by Wojciech Gajda from Fotolia.com
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