Ways to Prepare Hard-Coated Seeds for Planting

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Seeds with hard outer coats surrounding them can be hindered in their ability to germinate because moisture and gases cannot penetrate through the coating. So what do you do? You scarify them.

Hard-coated seeds like morning glory can be scarified prior to sowing for quicker results.

Hard-coated seeds like morning glory can be scarified prior to sowing for quicker results.

Seed scarification helps weaken the hard coat surrounding the seeds in order to better achieve germination. Here are two easy at-home methods of scarification:

Mechanical: This method involves scratching, breaking through and/or weakening the seed coat surrounding the embryo so that the embryo has a better chance during germination. Remember that you do not want to damage the embryo by crushing the seed’s coat. You just want to weaken the hard coating enough for the embryo to break through. In order to do this mechanically, you want to crack the surface with a knife or nick the seed with nail clippers to cut through the coating; you can also use sand paper or a nail file and run it over the seed, scratching at the coat to weaken it. Sand paper and nail files work best with larger seeds. Sow the seeds right after the weakening the coating.

Hot water: Submerge the seeds into the hot water. Allow the seeds to soak in the water as it cools down to room temperature. Once the water has reached room temperature, remove the seeds and sow them. This process helps soften the coats.

Which ever method you use, remember to be cautious of not crushing the embryo within the hard-coated seed. Scarification can help with germination, however it is important to sow your seeds right after you have scarified them to help improve your chances of success.