• Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) aids germination of seeds? 15 March 2013 | View comments

  • Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) aids germination of seeds?
    So it turns out that  this is used a lot in the horticultural industry in a diluted form to increase seed germination and root development. It’s nature oxidizes and cleans and is used in such a wide range of industries including wastewater, paper production and your local hairdresser when combined with ammonium hydroxide to bleach hair.
    It’s uses are numerous and easily obtained in usually a 3% or 6% diluted form from the high street chemist. It is this diluted form that is used when diluted even further to aid seed germination. There is much debate as to whether this has any real benefit at all and the ‘science’ required to increase seed germination, break seed dormancy and increase seedling size.
    I have up until now never used it, and simply soak previous years daylily seed (for 24 hours in water) which had been stored dry in envelopes in the fridge, before sowing. In my experience this can yield from 0% to 100% with most seeds having germinated by 3 weeks. True stratification includes the addition of moist conditions to the cold and thus mixing seed in damp vermiculite (in the fridge (for 3 to 4 weeks)) is another common, successful germination technique. However, some users of  H202 state that stratification is rendered unnecessary.
    So! I have searched the internet for some standard or recognised best practice on the use of  H202 for seed germination and by far the commonest method is mixing a small amount of the 3% solution in a glass of water to dilute it further & soaking overnight - I have found a chart that says 1&½ teaspoons of 3% to a cup of water. There is an alternate method of soaking seed in the 3% solution for 10 minutes and then rinsing. 
    I have tried all three methods
    1- overnight soak in water
    2- overnight soak in diluted H202 (noticeable bubbles in the glass)
    3- 10 minute soak in 3% solution and then rinsed well (seeds ‘snapped, crackled & popped‘ like a well known breakfast cereal during their 10 minutes).  
    The seeds used are all from the same envelope (same parent) and equal amounts for the 3 options, then sown in the same compost and all placed on the same propagator. Thus, the conditions are as identical as I can make it with just the treatment differing. 
    The first photo is of 3 ramekins of seeds from 'Vectis Jean Peirce' (approx 100 in each) and these were sown in separate trays on the same propagator. The next photo is of a tray of 'Licorice Twist'. All 3 separately treated seeds (approx 25 each) were sown in the same tray. All 4 trays were placed on the propagators on 09/03/13. I will record the results every week.
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    Laura Created on 12/04/2013 06:01

    I ordered Norfolk Island Pine seeds from a cpmoany regularly seen on the web. I received in the packet, not seeds but pieces of vegetation sort of fan-shaped with no instructions as to handle these vs regular seeds so I handled them the way I would seeds and potted them in peat pots with spagnum as the medium. Only one has germinated so far. I did email the cpmoany asking about the above and got no answer which will eliminate me from buying anything again from them. Howeve it is fun just to experiment with seeds. I recently found a person in my town (Greenville, SC) who deals in bonsai trees and he showed me a zip bag with moist soil and seeds which he had kept in the refrigerator for several months and it appeared that every single seed had germinated.This person has an array of items which I have purchased a few of as needed and has been very helpful.Also, I had used a Jiffy Pot tray with a heating pad which came with it, not costly and very efficient so I put some of the seeds I had ordered from  brand X  cpmoany and which had not germinated in a bag with damp spagnum and am awaiting the results.The cpmoany I purchased the seeds from made no mention of cold stratification, an interesting procedure, but helpful, if not necessary, in getting seeds to germinate.I guess the moral is to take care who we deal wih when buying anything and ask questions before ordering by phone or email.If there is no contact info my advice is not to buy from them.
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