Marigolds From Seed

farmermiller01February 22, 2012

Hey Everyone,

What is the correct method for starting Marigolds from seeds?

I didn't soak them, I put them in some Hyponex potting soil (good? bad?) and mixed it with perlite and peat moss.

They're sitting on a heat mat at 75 Fahrenheit and under a grow light for 12hrs a day for about 3 days without any signs of germination.

Am I doing something wrong or am I impatient?

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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

How deep did you plant them? Are you keeping the top of the soil moist?


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 8:02AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

3 days for marigolds isn't long enough. Give them a week.

But your soil surface looks very dry in many places. Way too dry. You need to keep the soil uniformly moist so mist it well or better yet pour some water in the bottom tray and let them soak until the top is uniformly dark then pour out the rest of the water in the tray and sit it back on the heat pad.

And as Kerriann asked - how deep did you plant them? 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch is recommended. 1/8th works best.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 10:05AM
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You should use a clear plastic dome on the flat or enclose the flat with sheet plastic and use a home paper stapler to close up the plastic. Doing this keeps the humidity high inside and prevents the top of the seed starting mix from drying out. Drying out is bad. Once the seeds sprout you remove the plastic and the heat mat. Marigolds do not need light while they germinate, only after they sprout do they need light. If you used seeds from a package, the package should say how long germination takes.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 11:15AM
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These are in plug trays so they're about 1/3 - 1/2 inch down. I put 3-4 seeds in each hole. I was goign to make some more trays once these germinate so I'll take that suggestion when I start the next set.

I mist the soil once a day and it feels pretty moist to the touch. I heard bad reviews about Hyponex soil about it being clumpy like mud so I cut it with peat moss in an attempt to hold extra moisture in without making it too dense for the seeds.

Last year with my veggies I tried plastic domes and I grew mold so I am afraid to use them. I heard some suggetions to use perlite to cover the seeds instead of soil.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 2:11PM
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I have quite a few marigold seedlings that I just grew from seed. I did it with soil temps of 75 degrees with very moist soil and a humidity dome. I put the seeds on the surface and then just sprinkled a tiny bit of soil over the top of them, just enough to cover. My marigolds popped in about 4 or 5 days this way. I started seeing some mold growing on the soil surface though, which scared me so next time I may omit the dome and just ensure the soil stays moist

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 2:52PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree that plastic domes aren't required. They are just a convenience tool for the grower and often create more problems than they help. Professional growers never use them but it is your choice. frankandjims domes look way too wet to me.

But they are planted too deep. I'd remove some of the mix from the top of each cell. Seeding too shallow is far better than seeding too deep.

And your peat addition may well create some problems. Peat is hydrophobic - it resists water and has to be pre-soaked for hours before it will actually get wet. And even if it does eventually get wet it dries out quickly. Can't be sure from your pic but there sure looks like some real contrast between dry and wet soil so misting several times a day or some sort of cover may be needed.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:00PM
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What I have used for my starts is a custom mix consisting of 1 part vermiculite, 1 part compost, and 1 part peat. Like digdirt mentioned, peat resists water so it works best to bottom water the trays but if you do that it works ok. I wouldn't use peat if I had to top water.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Professional growers actually do use domes to maintain a humid environment. It's a greenhouse. Mold will grow if you do not use a sterile soilless seed starting mix and sterile growing containers. The mold spores have to come from some place before then can grow. If you reuse growing containers you are supposed to clean them with a bleach solution. Seed starting mix can be sterilized by moistening it then putting it in a microwave or oven but I hear it will stink up a house.

Everything I start under plastic domes, wrapped in plastic sheeting or in plastic baggies germinates at a high percentage and grows on great. I have about 15 flats of all types of annuals going right now with even more still to start. Most of what I use to start seeds is 50% peat and 50% perlite. I buy them both by the bale and I go through lots of bales every year.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:41PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

I think you are doing well.. just need patience. I would keep misting the top and wait a few more days. I am sure they will poke their heads out soon!

Humidity domes are a blessing and a curse. You can get by fine without them as Dave stated. I use them on some things and skip them on others. The only upside to a dome is that they keep the soil moist for germination.. down side.. mold, dampening off ect.

If you have time to check on them a few times a day, you could cover half of your plugs with saran wrap and leave half open for misting (just as you are doing now). Try an experiment.. see if you notice a difference or find one way easier then the other.

There is no 'correct/perfect' way to garden. Remember all those seeds we started in kindergarten? We were not pros but I am sure they lived none the less. The best way to know is to try try again with different methods and processes until you find the results you like. All of the garden web members have different ways of doing things so you will get different answers, none wrong (hopefully), just different.

Have fun and keep us posted!!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Professional growers actually do use domes to maintain a humid environment. It's a greenhouse.

Ok I'll quantify it and say that as a commercial grower I don't use humidity domes on the trays for germination and neither do any of the other commercial growers I know.

Sure we use a greenhouse but please don't equate a greenhouse to a tray humidity dome. There is a world of difference in the amount of air exchange and circulation, the air temps, the humidity levels, and the CO2 and O2 levels in a greenhouse and those same variables found under a humidity dome on a tray of seeds.

A greenhouse is far from a sterile environment yet I have no problems with either molds or fungi. Both are airborne as well as on surfaces, around us all the time, but require very specific conditions of heat and humidity to grow. Eliminate those conditions and you have no mold or fungus problems.

But as I said above, it is your choice.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 7:07PM
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I agree on the differences being big. Having the ability to control the level of humidity, air exchange and air movement make a world of difference. A plastic dome is like a no frills whatsoever micro greenhouse. As soon as I see germination start I remove the domes and plastic and let things dry up a bit without letting it dry out completely.

I would love to have a greenhouse and know all of the workings. The curse of living in a city with a very small yard.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 7:35PM
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Do Marigolds like extremely moist soil? I was thinking about soaking them but couldn't find any suggestions on it.

I guess it would be a bad idea to have put some pressure on them so they made contact with the soil below. I have some super old vermiculite and am afraid to use it, is it better than peat moss?

There are some dry parts, I'll probably dig a few plugs to see if anything germinated at all. Maybe wet the soil down a bit more.

Thanks for the encouragement. I feel the same way about domes since I had mold problems that others described in here as well, mainly dampening off is the ultimate slap in the face. I might start a new tray tonight with some shallow planting and try starting some covering only with perlite.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 2:00AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

farmer, if you are starting some again, be sure not to plant the seeds too deeply, that's a major mistake.

And, is Hyponex the only medium you have there? While it doesn't likely have anything to do directly with low or no germination, I find it an exceptionally poor product for growing on seedlings. Of all the potting/sowing mediums available, that one would be first on my list to never recommend.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 10:50AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do Marigolds like extremely moist soil?

Soil moisture levels are difficult to describe in this format because the words moist, dry, damp, wet, etc. all mean different things to different folks.

I would say that marigold seeds , like most all seeds and especially the larger ones, prefer thoroughly wetted soil. But to many that might mean dripping wet and that is not what I mean.

So all I can tell you is how we do it. The potting mix, regardless of its make-up, is soaked until sopping wet in large buckets/containers. That may take hours and even some stirring to insure it all gets wet depending on the mix you are using.

Then it is picked out by the handfuls and hand squeezed, until it quits dripping, then lightly packed into the cells or trays or whatever and very lightly pressed into place. Seeds put in place and lightly covered with more of the damp mix, misted and the tray moved to the germination tables. The soil surface of all the trays on the germination tables are then kept uniformly damp (not wet but no color contrast) by light misting as needed.

We NEVER fill trays with dry mix. If you buy those prefilled ones then dump it all out and soak it first and then refill the cells.

Soaking of most any seeds is not required and if you pre-soak and than plant in too dry a mix they just shrivel and die. So the issue isn't the moisture of the seeds but the moisture level of the mix.

Ditto morz8 on the Hyponex. Plain old Jiffy mix is even better than it is.


PS: I have some super old vermiculite and am afraid to use it, is it better than peat moss?

Can't really compare them as two different purposes but take the old V and soak it well in some boiling water (just pour it over it). Let it sit till it cools, drain well spread it out to dry and then mix it in with your Hyponex using a ratio of 2 parts Hyponex to 1 part of vermic. THis is not ideal in any way but if Hyponex is all you have it will help some.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Yep, I heard hyponex stinks. Once I get my hands on some peat moss I might just mix it with some perlite and use that as a starting mix. I heard once its a good combination.

thanks for the suggsetions. I think I'm going to toss the Vermiculite but although hyponex is just lobs of dirt I think I need a thinner medium. Although it's funny. I just got a few Marigold seedlings tonight. I'll keep you posted on it but I'll let you know what my tests yield.

I thought about potting in just peat moss but I have the suspicion that the soil might dry out much too quickly and kill the seeds as you mentioned before.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Well I started the top two flats on 2/18. On 2/22 I started the bottom two flats and soaked them for a day before planting them.

Today is 2/27 and 90% of the bottom row has germinated and only roughly 75% of the top row has started.

So clearly soaking your seeds is a good idea. The grow mediums suggest 1/8th'' depth and covering in perlite rather than peat moss or potting soil is the best for sprouts (not sure why) can anyone answer?

The resize isn't the best on the picture, click here for the full size picture

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Update - everything's doing well. I'm going to make a soilless mixture of just peat moss and perlite maybe some vermiculite in the future.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 3:26AM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

Very cool! I love experiments :)

How is the perlite mixture you made holding water? Is it a pain to keep checking or does it retain enough?

I am not sure about covering the seeds in perlite instead of soil as you asked above. I know some say to sprinkle sand on some seeds that have long germination times to try to keep the algae down.. yeah, if it works woo hoo!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:55AM
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It retains it fairly well, I water it once or twice a day but I'm leaning more towards a peat moss and perlite mix for the future. If it holds water well enough then I don't even need the vermiculite

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 2:22PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

When I was a child, my mother taught me to plant marigolds by sticking the black end into the soil, leaving the white end sticking up/out. She probably said this to keep me busy, planting one seed carefully after the other. However, my take home message from this is that marigolds should be planted very shallow. One-third to one-half inch is probably too deep.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Susan, when I seeded marigold for the university, i was told to do that too. The seed came with the white part off and I stick the black part vertically inside the plug (oriented so that the if the white part had not been removed it's be above the soil). The white part doesn't have seed inside, only the black part is the seed. Sticking them vertical helps to make sure they are rooted into the plug compared to placing the seed horizontally. I'm guessing because the white part is not seed, keeping it in the soil might lead to it rotting before the seed germinates.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:46AM
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I wait till it is warmer to try to grow them. They seem to like the warmer weather and they grow quickly. And I do it outside.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Update 3/7/12
I've made the switch to just peat moss and perlite which is very cheap and the germination rates are doing well.

Although difficult to see, the flat with the temperature probe is basil. Everything else are Marigolds.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:24PM
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