If you’re looking to plant alyssum from seeds, you might be wondering if you should soak the seeds before planting. This is a common tip gardeners recommend to ensure greater germination success, but it’s not required for all types of seeds. So, do you have to soak your alyssum seeds before you can plant them in your garden?
You don’t have to soak alyssum seeds before planting them. While soaking seeds in water keeps them in contact with moisture so that they have a better chance of germinating, alyssum seeds are too small to be soaked effectively.
In this article, I’ll explore everything you need to know about soaking seeds before planting them, why alyssum seeds don’t need to be soaked, and what methods you can follow instead to encourage them to grow.
How To Keep Alyssum Seeds Moist So They Germinate
Although alyssum seeds are too tiny to be soaked in water effectively, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare them for planting. There are other methods of bringing more moisture to your alyssum seeds to increase their chances of germinating. Here are two effective methods to consider.
- Fill a tray with a seed-starting medium and cover it. Fill a tray with moist seed-starting soil medium, as this will encourage a humid and damp environment for your alyssum seeds to grow. Cover the tray with a plastic dome.
- Wet a paper towel and place your seeds on it. This is an easy way to keep the seeds moist. Store the paper towel in a plastic bag. Check the seeds every day. When you can see that they’re starting to sprout, you can go ahead and sow the seeds in a damp soil medium.
Why You Should Soak Some Seeds Before Planting Them
While Alyssum seeds might be the exception to the role, other varieties can still benefit a lot from a pre-planting soak. All greenery requires oxygen, light, moisture, and adequate temperatures in order to grow.
Moreover, these components need to be able to penetrate the seed coat for the plant to germinate. Soaking is an excellent approach when it comes to breaking the seeds’ dormancy while providing them with some much-needed hydration.
Soaking seeds before you plant them helps seeds in various ways:
- Soaking wrinkled seeds makes them plump, so they’re easier to sow.
- Soaking seeds helps to soften their thick or hard exteriors. This increases their chance of sprouting as it makes the growth process easier.
- Soaking seeds prevent germination inhibitors. Seeds are equipped with germination inhibitors, which are substances plants produce to delay germination, as The Botanical Review reports. These usually get eliminated by wind and rain, so soaking the seeds will help to remove them to increase the rate of their growth.
If you wish to soak your seeds before planting them, you can do so by putting them in a bowl filled with warm water, making sure the water covers them. Warm water works well to prepare seeds, but you shouldn’t put the seeds in hot water as this can damage them. Soaking seeds is the most effective for wrinkled, hard, and/or large seeds.
That said, not all types of seeds will benefit from being soaked before being planted. Small ones, such as those belonging to alyssum, can become clumped together when they’re soaked in water, which makes them difficult to work with when you want to sow them.
If you plant these clumped seeds, you’ll get overgrown, overcrowded plants. Or, the seeds just won’t grow properly because they’ll be planted too close together and compete with each other for resources.
Do Alyssum Seeds Need Stratification?
Stratification is when you expose seeds to cool temperatures to break their dormancy and acclimate them to different weather conditions that they’d experience if they were growing in the ground. This encourages them to grow strong and healthy.
Alyssum seeds do benefit from stratification, which you shouldn’t confuse with scarification, which refers to the process of using tools to break the seed shell.
You can stratify alyssum seeds by putting them in the fridge so that they’ll be exposed to cold temperatures.
Note that if you sow your alyssum seeds in the garden when the weather starts to become cold, which is in November, they will experience stratification naturally because of the cooler air and ground temperatures of this time of year.
That said, it’s easier to direct sow the alyssum seeds in the garden once the soil has thawed after the frost, as this will make the soil easier to work, as The Spruce reports.
How To Plant Alyssum From Seeds
What’s great about alyssum plants is that they produce their own seeds that you can collect just by shaking their stems! When you have gathered your seeds, and you’ve prepared them for planting by following the previous tips we’ve featured, now you’re ready to sow them.
Another great thing about alyssum plants is that their seeds drop from the flower after it’s gone to seed and that always indicates that collecting the seeds and planting them straight away in the garden is possible, as Hunker reports.
But, before you go ahead and plant your alyssum seeds, there are tips to follow to ensure greater success in the growth of your flowering plants.
- Plant your seeds in an area of the garden that gets enough sun. Alyssum seeds want to be in bright light. The alyssum flowering plant needs at least six hours of sunlight every day, so avoid planting the seeds in any area of the garden where there’s too much shade.
- Make sure the soil is well-draining. Soil that drains well prevents the plants from being in too much water, which can damage their roots. A simple test that can help you determine whether your soil has good drainage requires you to dig a hole and fill it with water. If it doesn’t drain fast enough, add some sand, leaf litter, and compost to the soil to improve its drainage.
- Sow the alyssum seeds at the right time of year. You’ll want to adjust your planting schedule according to the climate you live in. For example, if you live in a cooler location, make sure to plant the seeds only when there’s no risk of frost.
- Sprinkle seeds on the soil. Make sure they’re six inches (15.24cm) apart so that the plants will have enough space to grow properly and get enough resources from the ground.
- Don’t cover the seeds. Since they require a lot of light to grow, you should only press the seeds gently into the soil without covering them with soil.
- Keep them at the right temperature. Ensure that the soil temperature is between 55 and 75°F (18–21°C). To test this, I recommend buying a 3-in-1 soil tester that tests soil temperature, moisture, and pH.
- Water the seeds to keep them moist. It’s best to lightly mist the seeds until they germinate. Although you should keep the soil moist, you don’t want to drench the seeds with a stream of water as this can wash them away.
- Use seed trays indoors. If starting seeds indoors, make sure you sow them in seed trays and keep them in bright light, such as on a windowsill. Start your alyssum seeds indoors before the last frost. You can then transplant them into the garden after there’s no more risk of frost, since these plants are resistant to frost once they’re established.
- Sow seeds in warm weather for earlier blooms. Sowing them early in spring is a good idea because the seeds crave warm temperatures. Make sure you plant the seeds in sparse areas of your garden so that you can see your alyssums spread far and fill up your garden very quickly.
- Keep slugs away. These pests attack young seedlings, so install barriers or keep seedlings in trays away from areas where there are slugs in the garden. Another way to eliminate slugs from the garden is to place eggshells around the seeds as the slugs will be deterred by the shells’ sharp edges, as Country Living reports.
If you found this guide helpful, I recommend my complete guide on growing alyssum from seed. You’ll learn everything you need from preparing and planting to caring once the seeds are in the ground: How To Grow Alyssum From Seed
If you’ve heard that you should soak your seeds before planting them, I’m here to tell you that this is something you don’t have to worry about doing when planting alyssum seeds because they’re too small. There are other ways to prepare the seeds, however, such as by:
- Growing the seeds in a seedling tray that contains soil medium and covering it to protect it from cold temperatures.
- Putting seeds on a damp paper towel to keep them moist so that you encourage their growth.
- Storing your seeds in the fridge so that they acclimatize to the cold temperature.