when and how to propagate St. Augustine seed?

tibble(8)January 11, 2008

Hi, all--

I have half a backyard full of St. Augustine, and today I just noticed one patch that is producing seed pods. Since the other half of the yard is bare, I'd like to help out the colonization process by spreading the seeds in the bare areas.

So, how can I have the best chance of having the seeds "take"? As far as planting, I'm guessing I just break up and moisten the earth, pop the seeds off into it, then lightly rake it level? But how can I recognize when the seeds are most ripe for planting??

I know that St. A doesn't take very well, but if even 5% of the seeds sprouted, it would help my project immensely.

For what it's worth, here's a picture of where the pods are now in their development:

http://www.kofight.com/staseedpoddetail.jpg

I appreciate any help! My lawn thanks you... :-)

Brian

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texas-weed(7A)

Don't quite know how to break the news to you, but those seeds are sterile. SA is propigated only by sod, spring, and plugs. There is no seed.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 10:27PM
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texas-weed(7A)

What you can do this spring is rip up sprigs from the existing lawn and transplant them to bare areas.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 10:28PM
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tibble(8)

Don't quite know how to break the news to you, but those seeds are sterile. SA is propigated only by sod, spring, and plugs. There is no seed.
---
Well, there's some anecdotal evidence for St. A partially propagating by seed, which I would dismiss - except that some people at Texas A&M are leaning that way, as well. Oh yeah, and I also have several places in my lawn where St. A has sprouted *well* away from any stolons or established patches...

I'm willing to risk some of my time on these seeds, but I don't know the mechanics of seed propagation. I guess I'll just watch it until the seeds look "ripe", then mow. Maybe even do a light once-over with the leaf-blower and cross my fingers.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 5:48PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

I doubt that the seed in your lawn is viable. I agree with Texas-Weed. Here's a quote from another web site:

"St. Augustine grass has been grown only from vegetative propagation means until recently. Several companies are currently working on various seeded varieties, though to date the seed production is not consistent. Propagation is usually accomplished through sod or plugs. This grass is rarely sprigged for home lawn establishment, but this method is used on nursery farms to grow sod and can be used for home lawns."

-Deerslayer

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 6:10PM
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skoot_cat

I also agree with the above, there are no seeds available/nor will sprout with S.A. It spreads by runners, sprigs, plugs or sod.

You could buy a few pieces of S.A. sod or take a post hole digger and dig plugs out of the established area and transplant them at random into the bare area. A light layer of compost would also help, but not necessary. Keep the transplanted area moist for 3-4 weeks and then return to deep and infrequent waterings. The sod/plugs will start to send runners in different directions and eventually fill in the bare area. I've done this several time with great success.

Dont bother with the seeds, they will not work.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 9:21PM
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giventake(9)

tibble I wouldn't even respond to your post except you 'properly titled' the post. With that in mind, NO you can't propagate the seed pods.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 11:58PM
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texas-weed(7A)

If you do get the seed to propigate, you wil become richer than your wildest dreams.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 10:15AM
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tibble(8)

If you do get the seed to propigate, you wil become richer than your wildest dreams.

I have some pretty wild dreams...

Anyway, some quotes from http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/turf/publications/staug.html:

it is assumed that these variants developed from seed produced by the common strains of St. Augustine grass

dwarf and variegated types of St. Augustine grass have also been selected from seed produced by Texas Common

So it seems premature to say that the success rate is absolute zero without some scholarly data to back it up.

The question that has been - correctly or incorrectly - answered here ("what is the viability of St. A seed?") is not the one I asked, and the question I asked ("how to maximize its viability?") was not answered.

Oh well, back to figuring it out myself. Thanks for your time.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

just because you didn't like the answer doesn't mean you didn't get one! Scientist and businessmen have been working for decades to come up with a reliable way to produce viable St Aug seeds. It hasn't worked. A tiny fraction of the seeds do grow, but not enough to be commercially viable and not enough to reseed your lawn. You can waste all the time you want trying to get your st aug seeds to grow, but you aren't going to be successful. You could do everything perfectly, and get practically no germination.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 10:32PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Tible, sorry you didnÂt like the answer you got, I am familiar with TAMU as they certify my sod farm varieties here in TX.
Only a few strains of TX common have fertile viable SA seed. So unless you just happen to have one of the few rare strains of TX Common SA here in TX, it is futile to try unless you know how to genetically splice genes in seeds.
ThatÂs the problem; you can splice to the genes, and get the seed to grow. However once that grass germinates, matures, produces seed, it is sterile and is a hybrid that con only be propagated vegatively by sod, plugs, or sprigs
There a very few sources where you can buy SA seed, however I doubt it will be a close match for what you have. You did not say where you live, but if in Florida, all the varieties there have been sterile since before 1900.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 12:37PM
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skoot_cat

Tible, Listen to T-W on this one.

I think everyone answered your question. There is no way period to have those seed pods sprout. Just as it's not possible to squeeze water out of a rock.

If you want to try and sprout the seeds, by all means do it and good luck. If you want to fill those bare areas in your lawn you only have 3 choices sod, plugs, or sprigs.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 1:48PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Sure it's possible for a *few* viable seeds to germinate. Try it but don't expect a lot of seeds to germinate. I know of this person that grew st augustine from seeds that he collected from his lawn (i think it might be palmetto variety). he said that it seemed that every seedhead, one sprouted so you can see it's pretty low germination rate.

In a way Texas-weed is wrong about them being sterile...

Go for it if you're just doing it for the fun of it. Use starter tray or something instead of on the ground and lay it on something black to warm it up outside(they probably germinate when its warm enough). Or use grow light very closely to the surface inside the house. Maybe you will get one or two seeds sprouting.

Just don't expect them to take over the lawn like that. Best way is to plug up from the lawn and transfer to to the bareground during the spring when they are beginning to green up.

Since I have millions of seedheads, I might as try growing them for the fun of it!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 1:57PM
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tibble(8)

Sure it's possible for a *few* viable seeds to germinate. Try it but don't expect a lot of seeds to germinate. ... [instructions]

THANK YOU for the help. I totally understand that the germination rate is very low, and in fact my guess was about one per seedhead. Your answer means it's more work than I expected, but it's a good one. Now I can do the cost/benefit decision. I appreciate it.

To the absolutist others: the germination-rate expectations of an individual looking for any boost (no matter how small) to his yard health, and an industry looking to become economically viable, are quite different. Even if none of them sprout - and that doesn't seem a foregone conclusion - curiosity is fun!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 6:49PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Tibble good luck to you, I really mean that, but if you really want to propagate the grass you have, sprigging what you already have in your yard will be much more rewarding and worth your time. Horticulturist, Biologist, and Genetic Engineers have been trying to do what you are trying for over 100 years without much success.

If you try say a 6 x 12 flat with 1000 seeds in each pot, you will be lucky to see one pot spring a single sprout. Cut 72 sprigs, and you will likely see 60 or more healthy plants to plug your lawn with.

Good Luck

TW

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 8:12PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You might check with Douglas King Seeds in San Antonio. Every now and then they come out with St Aug seed.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 2:13AM
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zetahoff

Actually, I have been doing ALOT of research into the SA seeding. And what I found out was VERY interesting, so I thought I might share.

SA seeds are not commercially available because you can't just put them in a bag/pouch/anything that pretty much isn't freezing the seed and still have it worth anything even as little as a couple weeks later. Until that problem is fixed, it's much more economical for a COMMERCIAL BUSSINESS to sell sod, sprouts, and plugs.

However, for those of us that already have SA in the yard, most of the seeds that we find growing on the SA is NOT, I repeat, NOT sterile. 1990, Texas Weed? REALLY?

After reading this over a month ago, during my research period, I found seeds on the SA in my yard. Because I found it that hard to believe, because I found nothing ANYWHERE other than forums and such that stated that the seeds would be sterile, I had to try it for myself. So, I went out, picked all the seed pods I could find, "deseeded" the seedpods, and spread them around in areas with mostly sand. Guess what...I now have SA growing where I planted the seeds.

Now, just to say it, it would have been MUCH easier, not to mention faster, if I would have simply moved some sod around, but I REALLY had to know the FACTS. These are the facts: "The Seeds Will Grow" - Quote me on it.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:07AM
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jimmygiii

Wow, Zetahoff. Learn something new everyday! I've seen those seed pods on my St Aug but never tried busting them open just to test their viability.

Anyhoo, Cheers to you, Zetahoff, for questioning conventional wisdom and smacking it around a bit in the process!

Just becuase you're sterile, doesn't mean you can't have fun trying!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:54AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

So zetahoff you are saying the seeds are viable as long as they are fresh, right? By your estimates, what percentage sprouted for you (how many seeds did you collect, plant and see growing)? Do the new plants look 'exactly' like to the old plants you got them from? How did you plant them and care for them in the preseedling stage? And how many man-hours were involved in finding the seed, extracting it, and planting it (was this worth it other than to prove the point)?

Maybe sterile was too strong a word - but not by much. If the seed is not viable even briefly after going to market, it is sort of self-sterilizing.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:55AM
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texas-weed(7A)

LOL, try to buy some or sell them.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 2:39PM
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texas-weed(7A)

If you think you have a viable commercial SA seed, prove it to me. I will put up $500K to help you market and develop it for 50% gross profit if you have something worth crowing about. We will both be very rich within a year or three.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 3:23PM
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subl1002

I think I would take the stance with the sod farm guys that the seeds will not germinate... I believe their knowledge and experience far outweighs a few random people outside of the industry that believe the 1 out of 100 people saying it is possible. If it did germinate from seed, it would be very invasive on other lawns and would be a downright problem for golf courses etc. The fact is it isnt because the seeds do not germinate like you are trying to convince yourself they will. If you keep asking enough times you will get the answer you want, doesnt mean it is right though. Then you will spread this bad information around perpetuating other peoples issues since they can not decipher the crap info from the good.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:35PM
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harrellpn(San Antonio,TX)

I found these when pulling weeds this evening, I have St Augustine/Carpet grass and found these seed looking things sticking out of the yard along with this long tall skinny weed Can any of you tell me what these are, I know one for sure is a weed, but is the other one the seeds that are mentioned in this post. I have not mowed in a few weeks, trying to let the lawn conserve water. This is the first year I have had so many weeds....

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 6:24AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

First one is st augustine. 2nd one is crabgrass. My 'Sapphire' st augustine lawn had millions of them with purple flower spikes giving the lawn a purple tint to it before I mowed them down last night.

So far, it's the best variety I've grown, significantly better than Palmetto. Unfortunately, it grows like it's on steroid when fertilized....

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:12AM
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demorris

Any idea of how long from the time the seed head appeared untill the seed were harvested?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:03PM
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sircesare

Hi there,
i Started to work with my father in the Landscaping business about a decade ago and what i have done for some of our clients to save them money with their Saint A. is cut square patches of the existing Saint A. and using them as a start up for bare areas.

i recomend u doing this during its growing season and after you have already prepared the soil by tilling and adding the right fertilizer.

this is the best way to make your saint A. look great i have covered areas of 500 square feet in about 2 seasons with smalls squares saint a. spread real fast so you should not have a problem trying this. make sure u water the new planted Saint A 2 times a day or keep it moist for 2 weeks to have the best results and then just water it as normal.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 3:36AM
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