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Seeds: Wet and Dry

Plants grown from seeds, from the smallest (an orchid, at 85 micrometers long) to the largest (the Coco de Mer palm, at about 30 cm long). Seeds are amazing things – it’s incredible that a seed the size of a grain of oatmeal can produce a tree as tall as the Californian Redwood. Dry seeds can remain viable (healthy) for many years – but what do they need to make them begin to grow?

Growing Seeds – Wet or Dry?

Don’t waste the mustard and cress once it has grown – when it is about an inch tall, cut it just above the roots and try it sprinkled on salad, or in sandwiches. It has a fresh, slightly peppery taste.

Soaking Seeds

Plant the ten soaked seeds and the ten dry seeds in labelled pots. Put them on a warm, bright windowsill but not in full sun, and keep the potting compost moist but not too wet. Which seeds germinate first? Do the seeds that germinate second ever catch up?

What Happened?

Seeds that are kept completely dry will not germinate, which means that seeds can be stored for one year to the next. Some can survive for many years – scientists have germinated a 2000-year-old date palm from the Masada fortress, near the Dead Sea in Israel.

It takes a while for seeds to absorb the moisture that they need from the soil, so soaking them in water before planting can give them a head start. Some gardeners will soak large seeds such as beans or peas for up to three days before planting, or start smaller seeds germinating in a gel similar to wallpaper paste, until the first root begins to show. Great care must be taken in planting germinating seeds, to avoid damaging this new root, because it is very delicate.

Seeds are amazing things – it’s incredible that a seed the size of a grain of oatmeal can produce a tree as tall as the Californian Redwood. Dry seeds can remain viable (healthy) for many years – but what do they need to make them begin to grow?

Can I Plant Seeds That Got Wet: How To Save Wet Seeds

No matter how organized you are, even if you are super Type A combined with a moderate obsessive compulsive disorder, (in the interest of being PG) “stuff” happens. So it comes as no surprise that some, maybe someone in this household, may have ended up with wet seed packets. If this happened to you, I am sure you have a number of questions about what to do when seed packets get wet. Can I plant seeds that got wet? What do I do when the seed packets get wet? In general, how to save wet seeds, if possible. Let’s learn more.

Help, My Seed Packets Got Wet!

First of all, don’t panic. Take a “glass is half full” approach and stay positive. You may, indeed, be able to save wet seed packets. Perhaps, only the seed packet is wet. Open it and check the seeds. If they are still dry, repackage them in a dry bag or jar, seal and re-label them.

What to do with wet seed packets depends on WHEN the seed packets get wet. If it is the right time of year for planting and you were going to do so anyway, no problem. After all, the seeds need to get wet to germinate, right? So the answer to the question “can I plant seeds that got wet” in this case is yes. Just plant the seeds right away.

If, on the other hand, you have been collecting seeds for later harvest and it’s the dead of winter, things may get a little dicey. Also, if the seeds have gotten wet and have been for some time (and you have just discovered this), you may have a problem. Open the packets and check the seeds for any sign of mildew. If they are molding, they aren’t viable and should be tossed.

How to Save Wet Seeds

If, however, you have discovered the wet packets promptly but it isn’t the right time to plant them, you can try to dry them out. This is risky, but gardening is inherent with experimentation, so I say go for it.

Lay them out on dry paper towels to dry. Once the seeds are dry, label them, indicating the incident so when you go to use them, you won’t be surprised if they don’t germinate. At this juncture, you might want to come up with an alternative plan such as getting a second batch of seeds to start as back-ups or resorting to buying nursery starts.

The nature of seeds is that once they are given moisture, they begin to germinate. So it is possible that the process has already started and there’s no turning back.

Lastly, when in doubt, try a germination test. If the previously wet seeds are dry now, select 8-10 and place them between damp paper towels. Put the damp towels and seeds into a plastic bag. Check the seeds in a week to see if they have sprouted. If so, they are okay and all is well. If not, alternate plan, as it’s time to replace the seeds.

Oh, and next time, store your seeds in an area where they can’t get wet!

Perhaps, you may have ended up with wet seed packets. If this happened, I am sure you have a number of questions. Can I plant seeds that got wet? What do I do when the seed packets get wet? How to save wet seeds, if possible. Learn more here.