Novice seeks help germinating seeds

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Zach7286

 
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Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Zach7286 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:04 am

Hi everyone - I'm looking for some help in trying to figure out what might have gone wrong with the 10 flytrap seeds that I planted last October, only one of which has managed to germinate in the weeks since that time. I am 100% new to the growing of flytraps (or of anything, in fact!) and so there is plenty that I might have done incorrectly. Ha in fact the more I think about it the more I'm actually kind of astonished that I was able to get anything to germinate at all, but I was hoping to get some wisdom as to what elements of my process I should focus on changing when in a week or two I plant the remaining 10 seeds that came with my original order and which I've been storing in the refrigerator.

I guess when I really think about things it seems to me that there wasn't any aspect of the growing process that I am 100% confident I approached 100% correctly with these initial 10 seeds (due either to my own ignorance or to other unfortunate circumstances, and despite having read the very helpful instructions on the flytrap website). With that in mind, I guess what I'm most interested in is getting a sense of where to place my priorities: I don't have a ton of expendable income at the moment, and my apartment itself is less than ideal as a growing environment (dry, dim, variable in its temperature, heating doesn't really work so well). As a result I'm uncertain of my ability to go about things in a perfect/totally optimal manner, so that my goal here I suppose is more just to come away with an understanding of what few things I can do that will improve my chances of achieving germination the most.

But then on the other hand I'll of course be happy to take whatever advice I can get. Thank you for whatever thoughts/insights you can provide!

For starters, here are some photos....

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This is how the seeds spent the bulk of their time as they were germinating/attempting to germinate (I'll elaborate on everything below).



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View of the medium I was using.



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This is the one seed that managed to germinate.



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My lone germination alongside what I think is one of its less-successful fellows.



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Around Thanksgiving (about a month or so after the planting) I started to notice these mysterious seaweed-like growths, which almost seem to resemble zombie sphagnum moss that's come back to life? Not sure if anyone knows what these are or what they might indicate, but I'm very curious!



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This is the light source which I ultimately ended up using, after realizing that my window wasn't getting as much sun as I'd hoped (stick of deodorant is for scale).



Overall Recounting of My Attempts

In descending order of concern/likelihood of having been the cause of my problems, by my own estimation

Soil
I used about 50% long fiber sphagnum moss and 50% sand. I purchased both of these at Home Depot, and was assured by an employee there that the bag of sand I was purchasing was silica. That being said, in the days since then I've begun to wonder whether the sand that I bought was in fact part of the problem. The brand was Mosser Lee white sand (https://www.mosserlee.com/product/551_Sands.aspx), and the bag says that it's "for interior house plants," but it doesn't make any explicit mention of being 100% silica or anything. In any case, for my remaining 10 seeds I was planning on ditching it and going with perlite instead.

Secondly, there's also the fact that the sphagnum I bought was long-fibered rather than peat, which I've since gathered is the preferred option. The resulting medium (see photos above) did strike me as a little weird in its shape/topography, in that it felt kind of more like just a big bushy tangle rather than what I'd typically think of as dirt. But then again maybe that's not something that the seeds themselves actually care about?

You'll notice that by now much of the sand has pooled towards the bottom of the container as well. Not sure if that's a bad sign on top of everything else.

In any case, it does seem to me that as far as soil is concerned there is much that might have gone wrong.

Temperature
As mentioned above, the heating situation in my apartment isn't so great (relevant in that I live in NYC, where we are beginning to enter into the shank of the wintertime). The general atmosphere of my unit tends to vacillate between uncomfortably hot (by my human standards at least) and then slightly chilly. I've in general been keeping my growing container on my dresser, which is next to a window (making it slightly colder), but also next to the heater (obviously making it hotter, at least when the heater is functional). At around mid-November or so I purchased a tiny thermometer which has been indicating to me that the air outside of the container is consistently above (but often not much above) 70 degrees. I know that this is less than the ideal listed on the website's instructions, but I'm not sure how much of an issue that deficiency is likely to represent.

Separately (in case it's relevant), they spend about 5 hours every day in a different part of the room that tends to run slightly warmer - this is when they're receiving lamplight (as where they're pictured above).

Light
This too was something I changed my mind about over the course of the several weeks. At the very beginning I think that the seeds must have been getting a less than optimal amount of sunlight. Among other things, for the two weeks or so I was covering the tupperware not with saran wrap, as pictured above, but with a punctured tupperware lid that was red and completely opaque, meaning that the only sunlight that was reaching the seeds was whatever was able to filter through the sides. I eventually realized that error and substituted the opaque red topper for the saran wrap. However, it was still seeming to me as though the amount of sunlight they were getting was probably less than ideal. I had them on a south-facing window, but I work late nights and so wasn't opening up the blinds until about 11am; they would then get more or less direct sunlight until maybe noon or so (perhaps as late as 1pm), at which point the sun would start to hide behind the building directly to the south of mine, and I think that that was about it for the day. So then I found a CFL light bulb and started leaving them beneath my lamp in the configuration pictured above for about 5 hours or so every day (sometimes longer if I was out of the house). The bulb measures about two feet from the surface of the soil mixture.

I did not, however, do much to adjust the seeds to their new light source when I made this switch, which consequently was pretty abrupt. So maybe that was part of the problem? That error, along with the low amount of light they were receiving in the beginning, seem like the two major stumbling blocks I had with lighting.

Humidity
The apartment at large has been very dry, and increasingly so as we've entered further into the winter months and the heating and had to kick itself into increasingly high gears. That being said, the surface soil has been moist whenever I've tested it, so I'm thinking that this was less of a concern.

Water
I don't think that watering would have been an issue. If it was, the problem would probably have been over-watering instead of under-watering. When I planted the seeds I purchased a spray bottle and a couple jugs of distilled water, which I would then spray into the container once or twice a day until it drained out from the holes I'd carved into the bottom.

In Summary
Apologies for the lengthiness of the foregoing! - hopefully it's structured in a way that allows ppl to skim past whatever they deem to be irrelevant.

My tentative plan has been to purchase 1) Perlite, 2) Sphangum peat moss, and 3) a desk lamp (along with maybe a CFL bulb in a cooler color), and then to keep pretty much everything else the same (meaning that the temperature situation wouldn't change, for example). Is it possible to get a sense of how likely those measures alone are to solve my problems? Addressing the issue of temperature seems to me like something that would be much more involved, meaning that I would love to avoid having to do so if possible haha; that being said, if it seems like low or inconsistent temperatures are most likely to have been my culprit, I might just have to do some more thinking.

Thank you again for whatever thoughts or responses you can share! And of course I'm happy to provide additional details if amidst everything else I've actually managed to leave out the parts that are most important.

Best- Zach

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Shadowtski » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:04 am

Matt, the Admin here, is the flytrap expert.
He has some good info posted here: http://www.flytrapcare.com , including growing flytraps from seed. https://www.flytrapcare.com/growing-venus-flytraps-from-seed

I'm a Drosera guy.
I plant my seeds in a 50/50 peatmoss/perlite mix, keep the media moist-not wet, and keep them domed or bagged. (opening daily to prevent fungus, mold, etc) I try to keep them at 80 - 85 degrees for faster germination but I'll settle for the warmest I can find. I keep them under very bright LEDs that are synched to Sunrise and Sunset times.

That mystery plant looks like some moss is coming back to life from a dormant spore.

Good growing,
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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by chomato » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:10 am

I didnt read your entire thread but I did see your media and you mentioned mosser Lee and sand for indoor plants. You might be better off getting Premier peat moss from Home depot and some perlite without any additives. I got my perlite from amazon. It's supposed to be organic and I haven't had any issues with it. The quality of Mosser lee sphagnum moss is pretty bad, just look at your container, it look like it has sticks and twigs as well as your other stuff

Where did you get your seeds? I havent tried VFT seeds but I know that getting them from random places might result in a plant that's not a VFT.
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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Artchic528 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:06 am

Hello, I can see your a beginner (I am too, but I've been growing flytraps for a few years now) so I'll be glad to help you out. Just give me a moment to read the entirety of your lengthy and very detailed post.

The only sand I've heard that you should be using is 100% silica sand, and pool filter sand is what everyone on here highly recommends. Mosser Lee sand sounds highly suspect as they've been known to add things into their products like plant food, which is harmful to flytraps, so I'd just avoid it from now on. Flytraps live in nutrient poor soils and have evolved to catch the nutrients (insects and such) to make up for that. Adding minerals and plant food to their soil will give them mineral burn and prolonged exposure will kill them.

Growing containers for seedlings can vary from small plastic Gladware type containers to slighting bigger containers, or even full on flower pots. Matt's guide to growing from seeds suggest a smallish plastic Gladware style setup, and that is the easiest route, but honestly it's down to personal prefrence and what works best for the grower. Just make sure whatever you use has proper drainage as too much water in the soil will cause the plant to begin rotting. Flytraps like their soil damp but not totally saturated.

I'm trying out growing my seedlings in a smallish flower pot from the start so I don't have to bother with transplanting them when they get bigger. Plus, the pot has drainage and sits in a plastic dish (the kind you can get in the garden center to put flower pots in so they don't dry out too fast between watering).

For germination, I highly recommend using peat moss as the seeds are so tiny they can fall in and among the Long Fibered Sphagnum and get lost deep within. My preferred brand of peat moss is Premier brand, which you can get at Lowe's and Home Depot. It has to be 100% organic Sphagnum Peat moss (usually from Canada or New Zealand). Make sure you level off the surface of your peat so the seeds don't fall into any irregularities in the surface. You can add some perlite to keep the soil from compacting a bit, but I find it sometimes migrates/floats up to the top when top watering, so if you do use it, I suggest bottom watering with a dish.

For humidity, I wouldn't bother with a dome or even a piece of plastic wrap. I grew my seedlings out in the open from day 1 and they are all just fine. In fact, using a dome or plastic wrap just increases the probability of mold growing. That can be a major death sentence to germinating seeds/seedlings. You also have the added benefit of not having to acclimate seedlings to a less humid environment.

And finally as far as lighting goes, I'm growing my seedlings indoors in an east facing window, under a CFL bulb, until it's warmer out just because they are smaller and more sensitive to frost than a mature flytrap but once it gets warmer out, their pot will be outside right next to my mature plant pot where they'll get full sun for most of the day. Just like flytraps love. It helps that I live in NC where they grow naturally. lol

I'm also curious as to where you obtained your seeds. Matt here has some pretty high quality seed that almost always germinates every time. Out of 12 seeds I got from him, all 12 germinated and I have about 10 seedlings still alive and healthy. If your still struggling with germinating and growing seedlings, his stock is a good place to go to for a good start.

Not every seed that germinates will produce a seedling that will thrive. Sometimes genetics just deals a seedling a bad hand and it doesn't have what it takes to survive. Survival of the fittest, as the saying goes. So while a seed will germinate, it may not live for very long after. It's just how genetics and seeds work.

You also have to look out for anything sold on Ebay as flytrap seeds. Unless the seller is someone you know for sure sells legit flytrap seeds, I'd be highly suspicious of them. Especially if they're from China or thereabouts. Chinese sellers almost always scam you by shipping you some other kind of seeds. Seeds that are most definitely NOT flytrap seeds. I can't tell you how many people they've scammed. Also stay away from anything that claims to be rare purple/blue flytraps. There is no such thing as a solid blue flytrap. Just beware of that.

I hope my post was informative and useful for you (sorry for being lengthy, but I wanted to address everything you asked about in your post).
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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by oval » Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:58 pm

It's possible the seeds were older; then one out of ten is not way too bad. It looks pretty healthy, and looks like an actual VFT.

Read through the grow guides mentioned by Shadowtski above and you should be all right.

The seed bank here also has some VFT seeds you could order, once you have been here a few months, in case the others don't germinate.

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Zach7286 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:44 pm

Thanks very much to all of you for these perspectives! Perhaps I should add that yes I had already read through Matt's guide to growing flytraps from seed before I got started, and yes the seeds I purchased were indeed from his website.

The quality of Mosser lee sphagnum moss is pretty bad, just look at your container, it look like it has sticks and twigs as well as your other stuff

Ha this is good to know! I just assumed that those were supposed to be in there I guess.

(sorry for being lengthy, but I wanted to address everything you asked about in your post).

Haha no problem I know my original post was incredibly lengthy as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

I've gone ahead and ordered this peat moss from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000 ... UTF8&psc=1

I don't imagine anyone has had any issues with this brand in the past? Does the packaging give off any red flags? Thank you again

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Artchic528 » Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:49 pm

Zach7286 wrote:Thanks very much to all of you for these perspectives! Perhaps I should add that yes I had already read through Matt's guide to growing flytraps from seed before I got started, and yes the seeds I purchased were indeed from his website.

The quality of Mosser lee sphagnum moss is pretty bad, just look at your container, it look like it has sticks and twigs as well as your other stuff

Ha this is good to know! I just assumed that those were supposed to be in there I guess.

(sorry for being lengthy, but I wanted to address everything you asked about in your post).

Haha no problem I know my original post was incredibly lengthy as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

I've gone ahead and ordered this peat moss from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000 ... UTF8&psc=1

I don't imagine anyone has had any issues with this brand in the past? Does the packaging give off any red flags? Thank you again


Yeah, I've used that brand before without issue. Good luck!
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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Matt » Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:10 pm

I think you've done most things right, so perhaps the seeds were just old and no longer viable for the most part.

I agree with others that using different media would be advisable. That Mossier Lee sphagnum is not good quality and flytraps don't usually grow well in it.

The product you posted a link to would work fine. If you'd like a soil mixture that is a bit more well-drained to allow for better root development and not have to buy all of the ingredients yourself to mix, we also sell a good soil mix for Venus flytraps here:
https://www.flytrapcare.com/store/venus-fly-trap-soil

Good luck!
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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Zach7286 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:15 pm

Thank you Matt!

A bunch of growing-related items that I had ordered from Amazon finally arrived yesterday and so I went ahead and transferred the one seed that I'd managed to germinate into a new container complete with new media inside. If anyone happens to see anything glaringly wrong or off-base I would be very happy to know about it!

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You'll probably notice a few strands of long-fiber sphagnum that got transferred over with the seedling itself. I was very scared of tearing into its root system (!) and hence didn't want to pick off all of the sphagnum to which the seedling appeared to be clinging. Hopefully that won't cause any problems later on.



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The top inch or so of the medium is pure peat moss, and then below that it's a mixture of peat and perlite (at a ratio of slightly greater than 1:1 - i.e. slightly more peat than perlite). This setup felt intuitive to me for whatever reason, although I gather there's a chance that the perlite will end up bubbling towards the surface as time goes by.

I've been planning on using the soak-upwards method (rather than spraying downwards as I was doing before).



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I had also ordered this new grow light (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XZ ... UTF8&psc=1) but have been thinking about returning it and/or replacing it with something different under the impression that just a regular desk-lamp would actually be more convenient for me (it would enable me to place the flytrap back on top of my dresser instead of taking up space on my desk, which is where the grow light seems to have to go so that it can have something to clip on to; and then the thing has also been casting this purple haze across the majority of my living space which has felt a little disorienting lol). Would just a regular lamp be adequate? How much benefit is derived from the purple coloration?




I also took the opportunity to prepare the germination chamber for my remaining 10 seeds, which I still haven't planted as of yet....

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(There will eventually be saran wrap, as I'd been using before)

As with the seedling pictured above, I used a layer of pure peat moss on top with a mixture of peat and perlite below. Again if anything looks very off I would love to know about it now before I plant the actual seeds themselves (which will probably happen on Saturday or Sunday)! In the meantime I've just been moistening it with a spray bottle and allowing things to drain out from the bottom, in attempts at washing away whatever extraneous minerals might be contained inside.

Thank you all again for all your help! It's been super useful for me to get your reactions/insights.

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Artchic528 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:36 am

It all looks good! Happy growing and good luck!

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Zach7286 » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:02 pm

Artchic528 wrote:It all looks good! Happy growing and good luck!

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Awesome! I planted my remaining seeds last night. Thank you for the help!

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Re: Novice seeks help germinating seeds

by Rassac » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:06 am

I personally used long fibre spaghnum moss (dried) almost for all plants :)


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