When should non-sprouting cactus seeds be written off?

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by Thomas Anonymous, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    I'm starting some echinopsis pachanoi seeds and I've had them in a super-moist, warm, well-lit but humid environment since the eighth of this month (October) but there's no sign of sprouting. I know some of the literature says it can take up to months for them to sprout, but I'm wondering if, for all practical purposes, if they haven't sprouted within two weeks, there's something wrong and new seeds should be tried. But then this is the first time I've tried to germinate cactus seeds, so i don't really know. In any case, my question is:

    -Don't most cactus seeds, if they're going to germinate at all, germinate within a ten day interval?
     
  2. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    I remember you telling me that patience is a virtue you don't have, but I don't think you have a lot of choice, you could check on the seeds, it could be they had rotted.
     
  3. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    Yeah, I just put another 2 out of the original ten seeds I had in a clear plastic grape-container. I sterilized the special cactus-mix soil I got, and I have them under a light & timer set to give them 19 hours of fake sunlight/day. I measured the temperature of the sand right at the surface and it's a healthy 80-90 F, and I keep spraying with a mister to prevent drying. The first ones I started were put in at least 2 weeks ago. How long do your cactus seeds take to sprout?
    How can I check for rot when the seeds are so small they are indistinguishable from sand-grains? There's no visible mold.
     

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  4. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    It takes about 4-20 days for me, except for one Opuntia species (it took 8 weeks).
    I discard "normal" cactus seed if they have not germinated after a month. Seed are not always as fresh as they should ...

    By the way, I do not keep the atmosphere as humid as most people seem to do, I just cover the pot with a piece of fibre cloth to keep insects away. Works fine as long as I spray them once a day.
     
  5. DeVine

    DeVine Member

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    some seeds can easily take up to 2-3 months to germinate , many dont pop at the same time a survival thing incase they germ at a unfavorable time (wet season etc ) they can take there time making sure some survive
     
  6. wazungy

    wazungy Active Member 10 Years

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    I found that the soil can have an effect on germination.

    I had given up on some seeds that failed to germinated (10 - 20 % if anything).

    One day I put the remainder of the packets into a different cactus soil I had bought at an IGA store.
    I got amazing results.

    I have tried sterilized soil and damp off agents, but m last batch gave such good results.... here is what I did.

    For your trichocereus, try to get the cactus soil from IGA (I think it is called VANTRO cactus soil).
    Put about 1 cm in a small 4 inch tupperware container with a transparent plastic lid.
    Add 10 to 20 seeds.
    Moisten (do not wet).
    Put on the cover (or better, use a plastic wrap and elastic).

    Keep at about 70-75 deg F.

    Check every 4-5 days to make sure they have not dried out.
    You might have to wait 2-8 weeks.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    OK, I'll try that different soil --- thanks for the tip. I've been doing more reading about germination of cactii seeds and they all say the same things. It's going on over a month now with these and nothing is happening and all the conditions are what they're supposed to be. The place where I got the seeds said they have had good results with seeds from this batch.
    What the heck kind of 'desert' has conditions like this super-moist environment for this long? Swamp-deserts? Maybe that's what these are --- swamp cactuses! If conditions were any wetter they would have to be aquatic cactuses (marine cactii?).
    :)
     
  8. Seamus

    Seamus Active Member

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    The plants I started a few weeks ago sprouted 3 days ago and are going strong. It is an entirely different type of plant, Hylocereus Undatus, but a cactus none the less. I thought I might have had the container too wet for the seeds, there was condensation on the sides and top of the container during the day and the soil was quite moist. They sprouted despite being soaked.
     
  9. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    I find it easier to get seeds to germinate with humid conditions, with sterilized soil. As soon as they start to sprout though, I change the humidity. They will start regardless of the humid conditions, but not as fast and you'll have to keep watering them to keep them moist. I just find it easier to put them under plastic, as I don't have to think about them on weekends when I'm not at work.
    I find making my own soil works better than the store bought stuff, cheaper also.
    I have a grade one/two class growing lots of cacti and succulents and such. Some of the cacti germinated in less than a week. others are still no shows, but I know that they will take up to a couple of months to do anything, so I'm not worried.
     
  10. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    I've increased the temp of the sand mix to 28C. It wasn't quite as warm before. But this is over a month now and nothing at all is showing. So anyway, I increased the temp a couple degrees, and put in another seed --- if warmth and humidity is what does it, then they should be popping soon. I read a few books on cactus, and short of micro-adjusting the pH, I'm doing everything right (I let the water I spray them with stand overnight to lose any chlorine it might have). I have them near my computer and work space where I spend hours each day so I know for a fact they have never dried out, I give them a small blast once a day with a sprayer if it needs it.
    If two months have gone by and nothing's happened THEN I'll question the viability of the seeds, I guess. I have germinated lots of seeds and have never seen any of them take this long, but I've never germinated cactus before, either.
     
  11. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    Where did you get the seeds from?
     
  12. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    Come cacti require light to germinate, as such they are sown at or very near the surface of the soil. They might be too deep or not getting enough light. Of course they could have been too moist. I also had soil mite eating away at some cactus seeds as they were germinating, just a thought but I don't see how a few mites could eat your whole crop.
     
  13. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    mites would be one of the reasons for sterilizing soil, then creating a closed enviroment.
     
  14. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    I got the seeds from a place in Vancouver "www.vancouverseedbank.ca". I e-mailed them once already about the non-performing seeds and they suggested under-heating. I moved the lamps a little closer and measured the soil temp at 28C and figured that was good enough. I guess not.

    Depth could be an issue --- I read the seeds should be at a depth of one-to-three seed-diameters or "one to two sand-grains" down --- that can be pretty hard to get right when you're dealing with something a third the size of a poppy seed. So I could easily have the depth too deep.

    Mites --- I don't think so because I microwaved the soil and seal the containers with a sheet of glass over one of the pots, and have the sterilized ex-tofu container holes all taped off. I suppose mites could have gotten at the single seed I have in an uncovered coffee cup, but all the others should be safe from mites.

    Mould --- has become an issue under a single pot. I have the pots resting on a cloth surface to wick up any excess moisture that drains thru holes provided for that purpose in the bottom of the pots. I immediately changed the cloth and washed the bottom of the pot as best I could. I have been spraying that pot too much, I guess. The mould is not visible anywhere else. I can't smell mold. All the growth medium has been sterilized but I know mould will still get into it eventually.

    -Should I remove the mouldy pot right away or spray all of them less to reduce moisture (and mould)? There wasn't a lot of mould, and it was mainly on the under-cloth that I threw away. I'd hate to give up on that particular pot because it has been going the longest and has 4 entire seeds in it. It's the one closest to the lamp and covered in glass.

    -Should I treat any or all of the pots with anti-mould compounds by (for instance) letting the pots dry out a bit and then standing them in an anti-mould solution so that the (drier) soil sucks it up into the pot?
     

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  15. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    Watering with "Damp Off" anti-fungal agent when you sow is a good idea. Couldn't hurt now, but I from what you told me I wouldn't hold out much home. For not a single seed to germinate is odd and makes me think that it is more a matter of bad seed then what you did. You could have planted them too deep, kept them too wet and too cool, but I would still expect SOMETHING to grow.

    PS: Vancouver Seed Bank, eh? Are you sure they are cactus seeds... ;)
     
  16. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    This is a close up of one of my two remaining seeds out of the original ten-pack. What do you think --- does it look like a viable echinopsis pachanoi (San pedro) cactus seed?
    You get a slightly larger, more detailed version of this picture if you click the preview image.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2006
  17. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    It is a cactus seed. The lighter, round mark is also flatter, right? The must be duds.
     
  18. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    What is the size of that seed?
     
  19. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    It's pretty small --- half to two-thirds the size of a poppy seed. Thinking they might have been planted too deep, I very carefully planted the last 2 seeds almost right on top of the mix. But I don't have much hope. The dealer has offered to replace them.
     
  20. mitchnast

    mitchnast Active Member

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    and these are supposed to be san pedro seeds?
    should be bigger than poppy seeds, about twice as big.

    Echinopsis peruvians on the left, Papaver somniferum on the right (giganthemum)

    it should be noted that seeds of E. peruvians are industinguishable from those of E. pachanoi.

    also, i cant immagine them not emerging by now in those conditions if they were viable.

    I dont think they are viable OR pachanoi.
     

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  21. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    The shop me some replacement seeds --- trichocereus peruvianis (which is what I wanted to start with anyway). I'll have these new seeds in the sand in a week or two, and will use different, recommended IGA cactus mix, although, as a test, I tried sprouting some regular plant seeds in the other cactus mix and they came up right away, so I know that even though that cactus mix might not have been optimal for these seeds, there was nothing really poisonous to all plants in it, or anything. I think it was the seeds --- they were just too old, or had been stored improperly or something. My camera's batteries are recharging right now, or I would show pics of these new seeds. When I plant them, I'll post pics.
     
  22. mitchnast

    mitchnast Active Member

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    i just put in 8 Trichocereus Terscheckii and 20 Lophophora williamsii about a week ago :)
    two of each have popped so far. i used a mix of sand, perlite, compost, zeolite, and some cactus soil from Rona.
    i just put them in the window over the heat vent in a closed environment for humidity.
    when they are almost all up they go under light.
    the trichs i keep they way they are, but when the lophos get a round shape to them, i graft them to pereskiopsis. heres a sprout i grafted about 45 days ago. the red is a sign of stress, but it will get over it.
    these pics are 5 days old.
    that peyote is 3 months old.
    in another 3 months it will be as big or bigger than a yearling. you can do this with your trichocereus seedlings to speed them up too, but they are harder to get grafted.
     

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  23. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    Wow --- I read about the grafting technique, but you seem to have gotten it figured out pretty good. Good for you.
    I'm thinking maybe instead of starting my own seeds, why not bite the financial bullet and buy a pre-existing 'mother-plant', if you will, and propagate it vegetatively. This should have the added advantage of producing plants that already are a fair size. One drawback to this method is the question of where to get the initial plant? The two shops here in the lower mainland that even have peruvianis, or lophophoria's over-charge for them, and they aren't that healthy a bunch of specimins to begin with. I could buy sight-unseen from an internet-based dealer in Toronto, but I'd be buying a 'pig-in-a-poke', and paying ridiculous shipping fees (ethnogarden.com --- I bought some banisteriopsis caapi seeds from them that were a joke, little pieces of bark). I could buy from any of the large number of internet-type cactus dealers from the usa, but then there's the same problems of shipping fees, not knowing for sure what you're going to end up with, and since it will be coming across the border, there's customs and all the little unpleasant surprises they can foist off on you. Or even if I knew where to get lots of cheap seeds it would help --- these people want like ten dollars for eight seeds! Just out of curiosity --- where did you acquire your initial stock? Are they still in business? ;)
    Next week I'll get more cactus mix and another heat lamp and try again with these replacement seeds. It's interesting that your sprouted within a week, or some did.
     
  24. mitchnast

    mitchnast Active Member

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    you can buy potted lohpos, 3 yr olds are $35
    big clumps with a central mom are like $300

    urbanshaman ethnobotanicals, inside the BC marijuana party HQ on hastings in van (aka vansterdam cafe)

    they also have peruvian torch, pedro, terscheckii and bridgesii. as well as lop. diffusa, also grafted. they also sell seeds.

    you can just walk in and open your wallet!

    heh heh. it wont last long.

    if you pick up a "penis plant" bridgesii, then let me know, i will like to trade something for a few cuttings off it.

    you like my grafting technique eh? you know what the trick is? nothing.

    i dont even sterilize, i just slice and stick. you should sterilize tho
     
  25. Thomas Anonymous

    Thomas Anonymous Active Member

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    Yeah, these are the over-priced, under-quality dealers I was talking about. I don't think they have big ones for sale, just little, sick-looking, overly expensive ones. The other place down the street is where i got the dud seeds from (which, admittedly, they have replaced --- with hopefully not just more duds). As for whether or not they 'won't last long', I'm not so sure, look at how long they've already been there.

    I glanced at your public profile on this forum and it gives your location as the Okanagan --- good place for growing cactuses, no doubt. Apparantly BC's little 'pocket desert' is an actual part of the Sonoran desert! Of course, it's the Sonoran desert's absolutely most northen corner, nevertheless that's what it is --- that's how much drier in the interior it gets from the rain shadow cast by the coast mountains.

    Actually, the high moisture factor is the rationale behind my choice of pachanoi --- they're native to the western, seaward-upwind side of the Andes mountains at an elevation of between 0.5 km to 3.5 km, so they get TONS of rain and have so acclimatized to heavy moisture that they are more like regular plants than a typical cactus in terms of their watering tolerances. And if you can really frequently water a plant, it'll grow fast. And pachanoi does indeed grow FAST, doubling in size every year til you end up with a tree size monster if you have good conditions like you probably have in the Okanagan --- lucky you. What I wouldn't give for fifty kilo pachanoi --- it would be a thing of such beauty, sigh.

    I wish I lived somewhere like the Okanagan or California, or on the western side of the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 500 to 3500 meters.
    ;)
     

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