By: Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
When you go out to collect seeds from the plants at the end of the flowering season, you may find that the seed pods are soggy. Why is this and are the seeds still okay to use? Learn more about whether drying out wet seeds is possible in this article.
Why are My Seed Pods Mushy?
There may be several reasons for soggy seed pods, such as a sudden shower or freeze. Seeds can deteriorate very fast in such wet and damp conditions. Insect infestations also may result in soggy seed pods that may either rot or sprout prematurely.
Can I Still Use Seeds from Wet Pods?
In spite of the wetness, the seeds in the pods may be intact. If they are mature, you have a very good chance of saving them. Those with thick seed coats are often impervious to moisture. However, dampness is the number one enemy of seeds, so you have to act immediately to save what you can.
What to Do When Seed Pods are Soggy
You have to check the condition of the seeds first. Open the pods over a kitchen towel. You can use tweezers to ease out the seeds from the mushy pods. If they are still green and soft, they are not mature. Tan or black seeds hold more promise. After removing all the debris from the seeds, check them for moisture damage.
Moisture can typically cause damage in the following ways:
Sprouting – If the seeds are mature enough, moisture may soften their coats and initiate germination. If a whitish root is poking out of the seed, it has already sprouted. Enlarged seeds, and cracks on the seed coat, also indicate sprouting.
You cannot dry and store seeds that are in different stages of germination. However, you can plant them immediately to get new plants. If the seeds are precious, you can take the trouble of growing the seedlings in a cold frame until the weather is right for them to be planted outside.
Rotting – If the seeds are as mushy as the seed pods, they have rotted and must be discarded. You can wash the seeds in a bowl of water and drain them in a coffee filter. Check each one to see if any are firm and separate them from the rotten ones.
Rotting is bacterial damage, and it can affect healthy seeds if they are kept together. Wash the good ones in a dish with hydrogen peroxide. Dry on paper towels and store separately from other seeds. If you are lucky, many of them may germinate when you plant them later.
Molding – Growth of mold is another reason for seeds inside wet pods to spoil. You may see white, gray or black fuzz or powdery growth on the seeds.
Discard moldy seeds immediately. It is not advisable to try and save healthy seeds from the lot because mold spores can survive drying. They may contaminate the seed trays and spoil the seedlings too.
Insects – If the seed pod has an infestation of aphids or such other pests, it may cause wetness. If the seeds inside are mature, these critters may not have caused any damage. Wash them well and store when dry.
Drying Out Wet Seeds
Wet seeds taken out of the seed pods should be washed to remove all traces of the mushy remnants. Filter out the seeds and lay them on several layers of tissue paper. Cover them with more paper and gently press to remove excess moisture.
If the seeds are hard and mature, you can safely dry them and store them for future use. Dry thoroughly in the shade or under a fan. Store seeds in paper covers or glass bottles.
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Growing Agapanthus From Seed
The actual process of sowing agapanthus seeds and growing the seedlings is a fairly simple task. But it’s the waiting game to see the first flowers from seed-grown agapanthus that’s the time-consuming part of the process. At the end of the waiting game, you may have a surprise waiting for you when the flowers you see may not be an exact match to the parent plant. Seed-grown agapanthus plants are not exact clones of their parent plants.
As a group, agapanthus plants are perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10, but most species and cultivars prefer warmer climates than zone 6. The Headbourne hybrids group (Agapanthus praecox) typically is the only species that may survive USDA zone 6 winters, and this hardiness is marginal, depending on microclimates within zone 6. So you may want to make sure you’re propagating plants that are hardy in the zone where you live, since it may take two to three years (or longer) before you’ll see the first flowers.
-Grow sponges there is no way that you could preserve the sponges after you have already used them. The sponges are crucial for the plant’s growth because they act like a little storage unit that keeps nutrient mixed water that is food for your plant. The spongy structure of your Peat Moss sponge will also provide the optimal mixture of water and oxygen that your plant needs. Again as I said before, you can not reuse this part.
-Liquid nutrients Eventually you will run out of them and have to buy new ones. When you are buying nutrients, you can pick between two different forms of them-liquid as the ones you get with an original seed pod kit and tablets.
Sweet pea seeds should remain viable for two to three years if properly stored.
Harvesting sweet pea seeds is as simple as letting the pods mature on the vine until they’re ready to pick, letting them dry out, and storing.
Have you ever collected sweet pea seeds? Share your tips and secrets in the comments section below!
And remember to check out our complete guide to growing sweet peas here.
For more information on growing flowers in your garden, you’ll need these guides next:
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About Gretchen Heber
A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.
Sowing Too Many Seeds
When sowing seeds, begin modestly if you are a beginner. If you sow more seeds than you can reasonably maintain, it will become challenging to nurture the seedlings into adulthood. Depending on the type of plant you want to grow, you might be able to direct-sow seeds in outdoor containers or in the ground when outdoor temperatures warm up.The Spruce / K. Dave
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