Seed Preparation: Don’t believe the whole Internet

Seed preparation for redwood does not necessarily involve five days of soaking without air.

Free at last! Free at last! Redwood, other redwood and coffee tree seeds celebrate their ability to breathe.

So I was talking to my friend Mia this afternoon – our usual chatty chat about how our day has gone, whose neighborhood is hotter (I win! Take THAT, Inland Empire!), what she’s got for sale in her Smart Seeds Etsy shop, what I’m planting, and so on.

I mention it’s time to take the redwood and coffee seeds out of their soak since it’s been five days since I put them on the paper towels in their baggies, and keep talking about the 50 chia seeds I planted “by accident” because my hand slipped and I was going to —

“Wait. What?” Mia.

“What what? I’m going to plant some —” Me, rewinding.

“No. No no. Before that. What you said about baggies. What do you have in baggies?”

“Dawn redwood, those coffee tree seeds, and some other redwood. Why?”

“Why do you have them in baggies!?”

“Aren’t I supposed to soak them? I read on the Internet how to —”  (I think I hear my friend and ever-patient Master Gardener swearing under her breath in a most ladylike manner.)

Then she explains to me that seeds need to be able to BREATHE. Seed preparation isn’t something that applies to every seed you get your hands on. Some want to be nicked. Some have to be soaked. Some you can just plant – like those 50 chia seeds. Why on earth are you planting 50 chia seeds anyway? (I can hear her giggling as she hangs up.)


I raced to the dining room table and liberated five dawn redwood seeds, three coffee tree seeds and a handful of the other kind of redwood seeds whose name escapes me.

I swear one gasped, “Ahhhh, air! I can breathe! Thank you, tall human with big glasses.”

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Please. Even if your best friend is a Master Gardener with patience beyond measure.

Oh, and don’t bother soaking chia seeds before you plant them, whether it’s five or 50. They turn into goo. I read that on the Internet – and then I tried it (and they were right).

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass


Preparations for a plentiful patch of palm

cardboard palm tree seeds being prepared in cold tap water

Cardboard palm tree seeds being prepared in cold tap water

Many thanks to Sherry Venegas for introducing me to this graceful tree, the cardboard palm. While we were busy debating the identity of Vote The Tree, she brought this to my attention. So I raced off to Amazon to see what was available, and came back with this. Well, not literally. The seeds arrived in this afternoon’s mail, about three days before I expected them to. Good job on ya, Hirt Gardens. And a hearty high-five to Sherry!

Still leery from my experience with the tamarind and the trek it took to identify it once it had sprouted, this time around I’m taking double – nay, Triple – precautions. I have my carefully hand-lettered pot signs. Well, ok, they’re not signs. They’re strips of painter tape that I know full well will pull loose and end up on the floor within a few days. So I’m also hand-lettering some cardboard strips to mark my cardboard palms.

Also still leery from my experience or lack thereof with the staghorn sumac, this time I’m not only reading the directions that come with the seeds, but also doing a fair bit of research online. In my typical belt-and-suspenders-and-trench-coat-and-five-suitcases approach, I seem to have ordered about ten times the number of seeds I’ll need. I thought I was getting three; I got 30.

So I’m taking advantage of an apparent lack of reading skill on my part, and soaking three seeds in each of two ways before planting them tomorrow morning. Three in a hot tap water soak, and three in a cold water soak.

I figure this way I’m prepared for anything, and when one of the six seedlings pokes its head above potting soil, it will be well marked, labeled, prepared and documented – and it won’t be a tamarind.

Cardboard palm trees seeds being prepared in hot tap water

Cardboard palm trees seeds being prepared in hot tap water