Special Seed Handling Techniques

Many seeds require special handling, so there are a few tricks you should know to ensure that your seeds will sprout. The seed packet should list any special requirements.

Seeds That Should Be Treated
Scarification Seeds with especially hard outer shells often benefit from this abuse. Rub the outer shell of the seed with sandpaper or a file. It takes a little practice to make a cut that's deep enough to help, but not deep enough to damage the plant.
  • Lupine
  • Mallow
  • Morning Glory
  • Sweet Pea
  • Blue Indigo, Wild Indigo
Soaking Seeds that have a hard outer coat will germinate faster if they are soaked in water overnight.
  • Asparagus
  • Lilyturf
  • Lupine
  • Mallow
  • Morning Glory
  • Okra
  • Perennial Pea
  • Parsley
  • Thrift
Stratification This process helps recreate the natural seasons so that the seed knows it's time to germinate. For cold stratification, place the seeds in moist peat moss or vermiculite in the refrigerator. For warm stratification, place the container in a warm spot. After the first month or so, examine the seeds regularly for signs of germination. As soon as the small white primary root appears, plant the seed in soil.
  • Angelica
  • Christmas Rose
  • Daylily
  • Gas Plant
  • Globeflower
  • Lavender
  • Ornamental Cabbage
  • Phlox
  • Primrose
  • Tahoka Daisy
  • Viola, Violet, Pansy
  • Wake Robin

Seeds That Need Light to Germinate
Seeds That Need Dark to Germinate
  • Balloon Flowers
  • Basket of Gold
  • Begonia
  • Bellflower
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Blanket Flower
  • Browallia
  • Coleus
  • Columbine
  • Creeping Zinnia
  • Dill
  • Flossflower
  • Flowering tobacco
  • Impatiens
  • Leopard's-Bane
  • Lettuce
  • Maltese-Cross
  • Feverfew
  • Mexican Sunflower
  • Reseda Ordata
  • Oriental Poppy
  • Ornamental Pepper
  • Ornamental Cabbage
  • Petunia
  • Primrose
  • Rock Cress
  • Salvia
  • Savory
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Snapdragon
  • Stock
  • Strawflower
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Tickseed
  • Transvaal Daisy
  • Yarrow
  • Bachelor's Buttons
  • Borage
  • Butterfly Flower
  • Chinese Primrose
  • Coriander
  • Forget-me-not
  • Larkspur
  • Nemesia
  • Painted Tongue
  • Periwinkle
  • Phlox
  • Poppy
  • Pot Marigold
  • Sweet Pea
  • Treasure Flower
  • Verbena


  • Pre-sprout lima bean seeds to reduce chances of their rotting in the garden.
  • Start some extra quick growing lettuces like buttercrunch and place them here and there between other seedlings in the garden. They will be harvested and out of the way by the time the other plants need the space.

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