How long until seeds become plants?

mms_727February 3, 2009

Hi everyone,

I am VERY new to gardening and have a couple quick questions...

I decided to plant some seeds (blueberry, groundcherry, blackberry, dwarf pink banana) in a peat moss/vermiculite/perlite mix (I mixed them). It's been 3 weeks- when will I see plants come up? I used the paper towel method to start the ground cherry seeds a week later. It's been two weeks and 4 days ago I planted them with little roots.

Am I doing something wrong? More patience? They are growing inside, in a makeshift greenhouse (shower curtain closed up/vaporizer to keep humidity) with a full spectrum grow light.

Any help/suggestions would be great. I should probably have gotten cuttings/plants, but those get really expensive (I'm a graduate student). I did get two plants- a miracle fruit plant which probably wasn't the greatest choice for 1st plant, but it sounded really neat- and a rose, but...not sure what happened to the rose- it went down quick. :( I think it wasn't enough light that's why I have the grow light now. Miracle fruit's leaves are greener now except several leaves are turning red.


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Blueberry seeds require a period of cold stratification in order to germinate. Blackberry seeds are even harder to germinate...some breeders use a period of warm followed by cold (or is it the other way around?) and some use acid scarification. I don't know anything about the other two species.

However, even if you were to get your blueberry seeds to germinate, it will be YEARS before you'd get any fruit from them...I'd say five at the absolute minimum. The blackberries you'd get a small crop the year after the first canes grow.

Also, it sounds as if you're trying to grow and fruit these inside. Fruit crops really aren't suited for indoor cultivation.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 5:04PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Wish I could give you some of my excess plants. But fruitgirl is right, they all need to be outdoors or in a greenhouse. I remember growing strawberries and a pineapple as a graduate student. Only a few berries. The pineapple actually set a fruit but I must have overwatered or something as it died before ripening.

I don't know about your seeds. They all sound very small to me. You just need to be aware that those fruits that need winter chill to flower gennerally need stratification to sprout seeds. This is to hold off germination until spring, as opposed to germinating in fall and being frozen.

Your seeds may still germinate. If not it will soon be time to start tomatoes and other summer crops.

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 7:41PM
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Thank you for your replies! This maybe a stupid question, but...why can't they grow inside if they have light, water, warmth and humidity(provided by a vaporizer and kept in with the "greenhouse")?


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:01AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


They can grow as you suggest, at least for a time. But most fruits need the changing of the seasons in order to produce fruit. Blueberries generally need chilling to flower and fruit. Your banana might be just fine in your mini greenhouse. But eventually you would need a big greenhouse even for that.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:59AM
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Ok, so maybe they should be okay being inside for a little over a year? Because that's how long I plan to be in an apartment- after that I'm hoping to move somewhere that they can be outside. I figure they won't be old enough to fruit before then anyway, right?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 1:37PM
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weedlady(Central OH 6)

Megan, I admire your determination and enthusiasm!
But if I may, I'd like to offer some advice gleaned from 40 years of gardening experience. The early years were a financial challenge, but resulted in great personal satisfaction.

To save yourself and any plants that MAY (very iffy!) result from your seeds the stress of caring for them indoors and then the not-inconsiderable chore of moving them to a new location, growing them on until they become large enough to bear fruit, hardening them off (getting them used to the outdoors), etc.--I would strongly suggest you nurture your gardening spirit with little more than a few herbs for now--or just to see something green and growing, even start an avocado or citrus in a pot on a sunny windowsill. These are fairly forgiving, at least for a while--and it is not hard to leave them behind eventually!

Many people just trying to grow herbs in a south-facing window in winter do not realize how little sunlight actually is reaching their plants. Not only are the days about half as long, if there are window screens, that cuts the light down radically. Most culinary herbs are Mediterranean natives, so they want LONG bright sunny days and balmy nights, not the short dark winter days on a windowsill where the temperature may drop nearly to freezing at night through the glass!

The thing about growing under lights is that light is effective only at the top of a plant. For a mature plant to do more than barely survive indoors under light, and especially to get things to bear fruit, you'd have to just about have lights surrounding the plant vertically in order to provide sufficient light to all the leaves, and leave them on at least 12 hours a day. (I usually leave mine on 16 hour days for seedlings that I start.) Actual greenhouses are all window, so light is pouring in from all sides.

In the meantime, Megan, until your own spot of ground is a reality, find a way to put some money aside against the day when you have a garden spot prepared and at that time buy plants that will be ready to bear within a year or two. No matter how strapped for cash you may be, I expect that you, like pretty much everyone, have little indulgences that you can afford to (or will yourself to!) sacrifice and can put aside a few cents-- daily if possible, but weekly for sure-- in order to make your dream a reality.

Here are some examples of ways I have been able to save: clip out store coupons for things that you are going to buy anyway (that's important!--it saves you nothing if you buy a brand name you would not ordinarily purchase if it still costs more with the coupon discount than a generic item!) and then as soon as you get home from the store, put the cents you saved into a special bank just for YOU. Also when you come home from any shopping trip, immediately put any coins you have into your bank.
Oh, yes, that reminds me--cut up credit cards! Pay cash!

If you smoke (hope not!!), QUIT or at least cut back & put the savings aside. Same with anything--cut back on that beer, fancy coffee (or chose plain brewed instead of a latte!), a candy bar, donut, etc.--cutting back even a little bit will start seed money growing (pun intended!) and your health will improve, too! Do you drive around campus when you could use a bike in good weather? Save gas money!

Anyway, you get the idea. But you must have the will power to save the money & not break into your bank for any reason! Cut out pictures of the plants you want and make a notebook, plan your garden, do whatever it takes to keep yourself inspired so you do not touch your plant money!

Finally, when you do get settled in your new place, find out about local garden clubs (online, Chamber of Commerce, library, etc.), go to the extension office for free how-to handouts on all aspects of gardening, talk to people at farmers' markets, find out when & where plant sales are or just who likes to garden. Most gardeners are happy to share extra plants and seeds or sell them for a minimal cost AND share their expertise. Just look at the resources at Garden Web! We all are out here, all over the U.S., as happy to help in person as on line.

Hope this was not too long or preachy. Just that I remember how badly I yearned for a garden 40 years ago --and now I have gardened in 4 states and in Belgium and learned so much. I still am on a tight budget now that we are retired, but I have LOTS of plants and have made so many gardening friends. Good luck, Megan! And stay tuned to GW for encouragement!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 5:15PM
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