Growing fruit seeds at home.
First stages of growth.
It is hoped to put up images of later stages.
The Date #1.
Date sprouts, a few weeks old. (Tiny lemon shoots, back left.)
8th May 2016. Like Toad of Toad Hall, I suffer from crazes. Some become dormant, only to recur later. However, ‘Early Radio’ has always been around, as have ‘old 78 rpm discs’. Model aeroplanes is a recent one – though even that had a precursor many decades ago. But since Christmas 2015, the latest craze is trying to grow plants from seeds of exotic fruit. It began harmlessly enough; among my Xmas stocking fillers was a box of dates. Hadn’t had dates for years! So almost inevitably came the question: ‘will date stones germinate and grow?’ So we looked YouTube, and of course they will. There are scores, perhaps hundreds, of accounts and videos of date stones sprouting and how to get them to germinate.
You can have lots of fun looking up the videos yourself. Still, the basics for dates are very simple, so we’ll give them here, as the technique is common to many other plants.
1. Soak the stones in water for about a week, changing the water every day or so. Strip off any date flesh adhering to the stones during this time; it may start to decay & pollute the water. If necessary, clean the stone with kitchen paper.
2. After a week or so, you’ll notice that the stones are larger. They have begun to absorb water as a preliminary stage of germination. Here are both sides of such a stone:
I imagine the water seeps in through the fold; while on the other side of the stone is a small round closed aperture – this is where the root will appear after we incubate the stones.
3. Put your stones on a folded piece of wet kitchen paper, then insert the paper,
flat, into a plastic bag with a zip seal, close it, and put the bag in a warm place. I use the airing cupboard, which is always around 27 - 32°C.
The stones look uncannily like moth pupae laid out for emergence!
Truly, Dame Nature wasteth not her archetypes…
If you can manage it, have the apertures all facing upwards to make inspection easier, though that isn’t crucial. Some people enclose the stones in a sandwich of damp tissue, but this means you have to open the bag & unfold the tissue to examine the stones. A small plastic container would do as well, as long as it’s hermetically sealed. But the bag is best IMHO; you don’t have to open it for inspection. Check each day to make sure the seal on the bag is secure – as long as the inside is coated with condensation, it’s still OK. In around a week, the root will emerge from the hole. I planted my sprouted date stones when the roots were say 1" (2.5cm) long; but one YT poster remarked that they had forgotten about one batch. When they remembered it, the roots had grown several inches long, and a shoot had appeared too. When planted, these ‘neglected’ seedlings grew more strongly and quickly!
The Date #2.
The 8 stones were placed in the airing cupboard on Sunday 8th May; when checked today, Wednesday 11th May, three had already begun to germinate – is this a record????
The Date #3.
A fortnight later, the roots were very long. No sign of shoots; but as we already have several date plants, we’ll probably just put these all together in a pot in the greenhouse & see what happens.
The Lemon #1.
Seedlings from lemon pips.
As regards lemons, just planting the pips usually doesn’t work. The actual seed is contained within a rather irregular husk. It is necessary to carefully peel off the husk with a fingernail, starting at the pointed end. The pips are of course very slippery, so it’s a fiddly job. Try to peel the husk from top to bottom of the pip; if you try to ‘unwrap’ it round the girth of the seed, it may break in half. The actual seed is much more regular in shape than the pip. To germinate the seeds, the procedure is exactly the same as for dates, except that you don’t have to soak the seed in water. The pips from a freshly used lemon, when stripped, can go straight onto moist kitchen paper, then into the plastic bag. My first lot of 4 seeds germinated in only 4 or 5 days! Unfortunately, the seal on the bag then broke somehow, and the tiny roots shrivelled up. Happily, we still had the other half of the lemon, so after a few pancakes 8^) the second batch turned out OK, as you can see above. They were put in small pots with seed compost, on an indoor windowsill, and within a few days, their shoots came up. After about a week, the growth seemed to slow down. We thought this might be because this plantlet is an incipient tree, and as trees are usually big, if a root has discovered the pot is shallow, the plant might be less keen on growing. So we immediately potted them on, and they carried on growing, as above. The one on the right is in fact poly-embryonic…
Two seedlings for the price of one!
Yes; we had already seen YT videos which informed us that citrus plants are frequently poly-embryonic, i.e. two (or even more) seeds in one pip. I tried Googling this, but I have to tell you that, alas, I have always found Genetics incredibly boring, much the same as Geology; and can never get my head around even the simplest elements of either. I’m very sorry, but there it is. Suffice it to say, that one of the above two plants is a clone of the parent tree – and the other one isn’t. Sometimes, as here, they both look physically pretty well the same. Sometimes, one is bigger than the other; but even then, there is apparently no hard and fast rule as to which is the clone, and which isn’t.
The Clementine #1.
Here’s a pretty kettle of fish – er, clementines!
A bag of about 12 small clementines was purchased, & eaten over a period of several days. Only two had any pips in them. (Mind you, we have also been eating oranges at a fair rate since Xmas – but as yet, not a single pip.) One clementine had four pips, so these were straightway peeled (as for lemons) and immediately put in a sealed bag as above, &c., &c. Three pips germinated within four or five days. In the meantime, another clementine was found to contain two pips, of which one quickly germinated, which explains the smaller, single plant in the foreground. But what else have we here? The pot at the right has a pair of similar seedlings, just as the lemon above. But the other two pots seem to have three plantlets in each. As the seed compost came from a sealed bag, presumably sterilised, the likelihood of tramp seeds is small, though that factor will be borne in mind. So it would appear that we have two examples of tri-embryony; moreover, there is very marked difference between the three sprouts. What this may mean is far beyond our modest comprehension, but we will transplant them in due course & see what happens.
The Clementine #2.
I’m afraid my botanical techniques are not of an exalted nature. You see, while it’s true that the compost used did come from a sealed bag, I mixed it up on the potting table, and there were indeed tramp seeds on that table. To wit, those of Calendula officianalis – the English Marigold! It is a favourite plant of mine, and in my youth, was always to be seen growing in country cottage gardens. But it seems to have dropped out of favour to a large extent, to be replaced by the footling French Marigold, a dwarf sort, that you have to buy in trays in garden centres every year. (I wonder why?) 8^) The last couple of years we have had a lot of proper English marigolds, and of course they are prolific with seed, so we save a few heads. And when they are dry, they soon break off and get everywhere. In fact, various pots in the greenhouse all seem to have marigolds sprouting in them… tsk, tsk. The actual Clementine seedlings are the small, glossy ones.
The Mango #1.
It was rather nice to buy, and eat, mangos for the first time! We had not been familiar with them before. The first one was very large and expensive; yellow and red of hue, and delicious. However, the seed in that one came to naught. But intrepid YouTubers had showed that it was incredibly easy to grow a mango seed. So we bought a pack of two smaller, mostly green mangos, and ate them. No: I tell a lie; I ate one, and gave the other to my daughter. But anyway, here is another instance of the fact that if you take the single very big seed out of a mango & just plant it, it won’t germinate. I haven’t bothered to look this up, but it seems obvious that some seeds are contained within a husk for very definite reasons. First, I suppose, so that the seed will not germinate inside the fruit itself; second and more importantly, since fruits – I would think, wouldn’t you? – have evolved so that they will be eaten by animals & birds, and so be distributed to pastures new in the excreta of those birds and animals. Accordingly, Dame Nature has ordained that the seed itself will remain unaffected by its passage through the alimentary tract of whatever has eaten it. However, its protective husk will be consumed, so that the seed will be ready for germination, when it falls to the ground. I have no idea what creatures ate/eat mangos; but they must have pretty powerful digestive systems, because the husk of a mango seed is a pretty formidable thing to break open, even using a knife or a screwdriver. Nevertheless, inside the husk will be found the actual seed. It resembles a large broad bean more than anything else, and, if treated in the same way as dates & lemons &c., and put into a sealed bag on damp tissue and incubated for some time, a root will emerge from one end of the seed. Then, you may plant it on its side, in seed compost in a relatively large pot. The shoot appeared above the compost in about 4 or 5 days, and since then has grown quite quickly.
The Mango #2.
It seems to be doing quite well in the greenhouse.
The Avocado #1.
We did try growing an avocado stone some years ago, with no results. It just sat there, propped up in its jam-jar with three cocktail sticks in the normal way, and nothing whatever happened over a period of weeks. But that was in the days before YouTube – fancy that – no YouTube! How on earth did we ever manage? Anyhow, it is essential to remove the thin brown skin of the stone – which you can gently scrape off with a fingernail. This insubstantial skin seems not to warrant the term ‘husk’; but for all I know, it may serve the same purpose. Now as you remove this skin, you will find a seam running vertically around the seed. Make sure you don’t split the seed in half. The bottom of the seed is rounded; the top is round, but smaller. Then, do the thing with the three cocktail sticks. They only need to go in say a centimetre, if that. Then prop it up in its jar & fill with water until the lower half of the seed is submerged. Some people put them on a window sill, but I put mine in the airing cupboard because it’s warm – around 30°C. Change the water every day or two. Nothing happened at first. But after about 10 days, the seed began to split along the vertical seam, and lo: a root appeared. It grew fairly slowly. I should think it was a good couple of weeks, maybe three, before the side-roots developed. By then the seed was split in half, and finally the shoot at the top emerged. It was then put into the greenhouse, though the summer hasn’t really started yet.
The Avocado #2.
Leaves are appearing on the shoot. It’s in the greenhouse, and the weather is not very summery yet – few days have attained 20°C so far. I think it might as well go into a pot now.
The Kiwi Fruit #1.
With the Kiwi Fruit, you just cut it in half and eat the inside with a spoon, including the seeds. But make sure you don’t eat any of the spiky hairy outer skin! There are hundreds of tiny seeds inside, so a small blob was taken, and rubbed gently around in a tea-strainer under the tap to get rid of the flesh. Not everybody cleans the seeds. I need to check on this, because of the 30 cleaned seeds I put onto the damp tissue in the sealed bag in the airing cupboard, only TWO germinated. It’s fiddly to transplant them too, because of the smallness & the delicacy of the root. Still, both of them came up. They’ve been out now for probably a fortnight, but are only growing slowly. Not much else to say really.
The Kiwi Fruit #2.
Progress here is slow, but as we have said, the greenhouse is still pretty cool.
The Papaya, or Paw-Paw #1.
Extremely rich in vitamin C & tasty to boot, the papaya, when cut in half, reveals a core containing a great many seeds. These are scooped out with a spoon, and discarded. The two halves can then be cut up similar to a melon. The skin is not eaten. The seeds are in a sort of jelly-like mass, each seed in a kind of ‘cell’ of jelly. Most people on YT clean the seeds, again, by rubbing gently in a tea strainer under running water. The actual seed is black and has very short spikes. There were something like 100 seeds in my papaya. One YT video shows planting the seeds in a very tall pot, as the root goes down deep. This confirms my suspicion that things that are going to have deep roots tend not to grow well in shallow pots. Indeed, I definitely know that, because I once waited for some sweet pea shoots to grow taller, but they never did, until I got fed up & planted them out in the garden, when up they shot, saying: “And about time too!” In fact, one YT poster had no deep flower pots, and used sections of scrap plastic drainpipe. This was a Good Idea, because neither did I have any deep pots, but also had spare drainpipe!
The Papaya, or Paw-Paw #2.
Image here, when ready.
The Passion Fruit #1.
These small, reddish-brown fruit might be related to the papaya, for when you cut one in half, it looks very much the same as a papaya; though this time, the seeds are eaten. One YT poster scientifically planted a large number of seeds in different batches. Some seeds had been cleaned, some not; some had been soaked in water, some not & so on. His results were very interesting. Without doubt, the best way forward was to clean the seeds in the same way as above, because they are also contained in little sacs of surrounding juice. This way, he got 83% germination rate. Soaking the cleaned seeds for 24 hours produced exactly the same result. I have planted about 15 or 20 seeds into a medium size pot. There is no image because, only having been planted a couple of days ago, they haven’t come through yet! 8^) However, am pretty sure they will soon.
The Passion Fruit #2.
Sorry; no. Not a sausage after 3 weeks. The pot will be stuck in the greenhouse in case anything happens later.
The Orange #1.
Image here, when ready.
We have been eating oranges assiduously ever since Christmas, but evidently most varieties have been rendered pipless. Still, they’re very nice anyway. Eventually, to our delight, four pips were discovered in one orange. They were immediately peeled, as in Lemon above, and put into a bag in the airing cupboard in the normal way. Two germinated within a few days. We waited a bit, but the other two didn’t, so we planted the first two and are waiting for them to come through.
The Apricot #1.
My daughter kindly bought me some apricots. I think there were 8 in the pack, and I ate four in the first day or so, and broke the stones with a small hammer. By now, we know that there isn’t a cat in Hell’s chance of growing a hard stone like this unless you get the actual seed out. Yet again, we were amazed at the capability of the digestive systems of certain creatures. To digest the husk or shell of an apricot stone must take some very powerful juices. We had to bang away with our hammer for some time to crack them. The resulting seeds had a striped coating, some of which partially broke away. Into the bag on damp tissue, & into the airing cupboard. 10 days later nothing had happened. When we took the seeds out of the bag, some more of their coatings came away. It was very thin, but in case it constituted a husk – which, we have learned, inhibits germination – we removed it all & replaced the now whitish seeds in the bag. Behold! Within two days, all four seeds germinated, and grew to the size above in only three or four days more. They are now ready for potting.
All these descriptions are very basic – as remarked, you can spent ages pottering about on YouTube seeing the most amazing things grown. And spring, reluctantly heading into summer, is a jolly good time to start.
Hopefully, we’ll add more images later, to show bigger plants.
Page started 8th/9th May 2016.
Updated 2nd June 2016.