How soon is too soon?

ryseryse_2004January 25, 2014

Now that my seeds have tiny little white 'tails', can I go ahead and plant them? I am having to change the water daily because it is getting cloudy with all the rotting seed parts and I would like to just get the good ones in the soil.

If I plant them now, do they need bottom heat?

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macroclemys

I usually plant them as soon as most of the seeds are starting to produce a bit of root (the tail). Others leave them for quite a bit longer. They will not need bottom heat but will develop faster if given some extra warmth.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:52AM
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maida_gw(9a)

I usually wait until they develop a leaf about one inch long. It makes it easier to plant. Leave the black seed on top of the soil and you won't plant the seed too deep. I then use a gentle spray to settle the soil around the roots. Then just wait.
Maida

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:48AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

I agree with waiting for leaf growth. I also add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the water, which might keep it cleaner for you.
K

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:55AM
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dondeldux

I agree also with waiting for a leaf but if you have several seeds that have nice long roots you might soak them separately from the others or you can try planting them now, the choice is really yours. I don't know what would be making the water cloudy so quickly but you may have a few seeds that are rotting so removing the good seeds might be a good choice and try as Kristi suggests, a drop or two of hydrogen peroxide on the seeds with the roots if you do continue to soak.

Donna

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:38PM
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dondeldux

removing duplicate message

This post was edited by dondeldux on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 6:59

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:40PM
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macroclemys

I have never left the seedlings in water long enough to develop a leaf, probably because I never understand the benefits of waiting for a leaf. An important point about seedlings is that they seem to be extremely forgiving, so it probably does not matter what you do. Despite what is true about larger bulbs, seedlings seem very tolerant of flooded conditions, so they appear content to sit in water for a while. In fact before I knew anything about Hippies, I once had a batch of seedlings growing in a pot that had no drainage holes. I left it outside all summer, and on occasion I would lie it on its side to drain the water out. After rain, sometimes there would be standing water above the soil level for several days before I would get around to draining it. The seedlings thrived despite the neglect and were quite robust by the end of the summer. If these had been adult bulbs, I probably would have lost them all to rot. I don't recommend this as a way to grow seedlings, but just want to emphasize how forgiving seedlings are. Also, once potted in soil, initially it is probably better to err on the side of overwatering rather than underwatering.
So plant the seedlings whenever it is convenient. I cannot attest to the ease of planting after developing a leaf, but I can't imagine anything being much easier than planting them when the root is still quite short. I just lay them on the soil, making certain that the root is inserted into the soil. Depending on the length of the root, it may be necessary to make a cut or hole in the soil to avoid breaking the root. Then I sprinkle perhaps 1/4 inch of soil on top.
The reason I pot them up early is that it seems logical to get the root in contact with the soil as soon as possible so that it can begin taking up nutrients to sustain more growth. And I worry that I could easily break a longer root when planting. And finally, roots that develop underwater are anatomically and physiologically different than those that develop in soil, and may perform less well when later exposed to drier conditions. This is often a problem when cuttings of other house plants are rooted in water, and they can experience substantial shock when transplanted into soil. But these are all "theoretical" arguments that clearly must not matter much for hippeastrum, based on the experience of others.
Whew, sorry for the long email, and I hope it did not sound like I was trying to lecture anyone. I mostly wanted to emphasize that there is little need to fret over planting too early or too late, and I got a bit carried away!

Bill

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 6:34AM
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jstropic

Well, I think that pretty much answers my question of "why is everyone else getting containers of lush seedlings while I struggle to keep mine alive - not enough moisture! Once I transferred to soil, my water mantra "less is more" kicked in. Although I did not let them dry completely, I am thinking I needed to allow time for them to acclimate before lowering the moisture level. So thanks for the email! I am going to try again.
-J

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:03AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Leaves are good handles for planting!
:-)
K

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:17AM
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dondeldux

I hate to admit it but all my very numerous trays of seedlings from infants to 1 yr olds+ don't have any drainage holes in the containers.
When the seedlings are young they must be kept fairly moist but not sopping wet and as they grow multiple leaves and the bulb is the size of a chick pea then I do let them dry out between waterings but not for more than a day. Enemy # 1 for my seedlings is fungus gnats. I also feed each time I water with a very weak solution of fertilizer.

Once again we all have our own methods for growing seedlings but I do like the first leaf to be about 1'' and they do make great handles for easy planting.

Donna

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:15PM
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ryseryse_2004

Donna - what do you do about fungus knats? I have tried several things and nothing seems to work. The yellow sticky traps trap a few but are not effective at all.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:12PM
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macroclemys

I guess I will have to try it sometime so I can experience the ease of planting a plant with a handle!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 6:30PM
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dondeldux

There you go!âºâºâº

I don't have any magic bullet for fungus gnats. I've been pretty fortunate this season and I really don't know why as other years they were buzzing all around. Of course if one has a greenhouse like Kristi with resident lizards and frogs they take care of the problem!âºâºâº

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 7:58PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

One other thing about waiting for leaves⦠I have had some seeds that never progressed beyond roots, never producing leaves. If I were to plant those when they were roots, it would be a total waste of my time. I don't have time or space for something like that.
K

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:09PM
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