Do Seeds Need to Dry Before Planting?

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Pepper Seeds

Planting can seem like an easy task, but when it’s time to do it, most gardeners tend to ponder on whether the seeds will sprout or not, #amiright? I also had that same question long back when I was new to gardening. This thought would occur most often when I planted wet seeds.

So, do seeds need to dry before planting? In my experience and according to my research, seeds do need to dry before planting.  However, this does depend on the type of seed. Some seeds need to dry, but some will die if they dry out completely. In this post, I will explain the vital things that a gardener should know before planting seeds.

Seeds Should be Mature Before Drying and Planting

In my opinion, starting plants from seed is the most rewarding thing to do as a gardener. Not only is it economical, but planting from seed, especially seed that you saved from your own plants, can provide healthy organic plants for the garden.  However, it is important to remember that when saving seeds you save them from mature/ripe plants/fruits.

Seeds of different plants mature at different times. A mature seed refers to a fully developed seed from a ripened plant. Those good quality seeds are usually obtained during harvesting.

A seed’s maturity is important because immature seeds will have a lower germination rate and will not be able to absorb water. Furthermore, immature seeds are more susceptible to pests and diseases, which may spread and disturb other healthy seeds.

Gardeners most often evaluate immaturity of seeds by simple touching or viewing the seeds. Here are other signs that will help to determine whether or not a seed has fully developed.

How to Determine if a Plant is Mature to Save its Seed

  • When a hollow sound is heard from a fruit (e.g. watermelon), the seeds inside it will be mature.
  • Some seeds exist inside of the fruit, such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. For these types of vegetables, you need to let the fruit fully ripen before saving the seeds.
  • Most seeds of any flowering plants are not usually mature until the flowers begin to die and the seed pods dry out.
  • When a fruit looks to be easily disconnected from a plant, the seeds are mature. Do not wait for the fruit to fall off because the insects will feed on those seeds before they are picked.

Purpose of Drying Seeds Before Planting

Drying seeds is a common strategy that has been used for ages. Remember, whether or not a seed should be dried before planting all depends on the type of seed in question. The reasons to dry seeds before planting listed below are specifically for those type of seeds that do need to be dried before planting.

  • If seeds are not dried, their coat skin, which acts as a seed protector, can be easily removed. If so, there will be higher chances of seeds to rot and not be suitable to be planted.
  • When seeds are in a damp area or container, they will develop mold which is not good for seeds.
  • Some pests may feed on wet seeds, so it is important to dry them in order to avoid pests and diseases that can easily attack seeds when they are wet.
  • Some seeds germinate a stunted seedling if they are not dried, so it is important to dry them to improve the germination rate.

How to Dry Seeds

Drying seeds can be accomplished in a few different ways, depending on the type of seed. In brief, drying seeds is a process by which moisture is removed from the seeds by air and sun. Some seeds can be dried in direct sunlight, but only during certain times of day (see second section below). However, some seeds are not suitable to be dried in direct sunlight because of the possibility of degradation. Those type of seeds can be dried in open air in a shaded area.

Covered and Shaded Drying

  • First of all, isolate the seeds that you want to plant to avoid cross-pollination.
  • Some seeds need to be cleaned before drying – especially those seeds that are from juicy fruits – so that they won’t stick together or attract insects in the soil when they are planted.
  • Place seeds in a container that will easily distribute air and allow moderate heat to get through. If it’s closed, it is better create some holes that will allow air to circulate. 
  • Spread seeds so that air can get inside and dry them naturally in an open container. Do not try to conserve space by piling seeds on top of each other.  They may develop mold or even start to sprout before they are dried enough. Once they sprout, they will not be able to germinate again.
  • Turn the seeds often at least four to five times per day so that they will dry on both sides.
  • Don’t dry them in plastic because they can easily form moisture that could cause mold.
  • Either cover or take your seeds indoors during the night to avoid dew, pests, and rodents.

Sun Drying

Some seeds are naturally dried inside a pod. For example, it is impossible to extract okra seeds from the pod to dry them while they are still wet. To identify if those types of seeds are dry, the pod should be hard and woody. They will not dry properly in a shed because they have a higher moisture content. The higher respiration rate will cause them to rot or develop mold. Below are simple steps to follow when sun drying your seeds.

  • Do not put the pods on the ground or soil in order to protect them from being damaged by microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms are harmful because they reduce seed quality.
  • Use a drying container with holes to allow air to pass through the pods and dry the seeds.
  • The recommended time to dry seeds is between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and between 2:00 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. During these times, the sun will be mild and the seeds will survive.
  • Turn the seeds at least four times a day.
  • Take your seeds indoors during the night to protect them from elements and pests.
  • Don’t forget to take the seeds inside when they are fully dry.

Drying Seeds to Plant in the Next Season

Once seeds have properly dried, store them properly to plant in the next season. By doing this, high-quality seeds of choice are readily available without breaking the bank. In planting time, stored seeds can be shared with neighbors and friends. For long-lasting seeds, save them for future generations! When stored for such purposes, the seeds must also be protected from loss in germination potential. Also remember to test the dryness of seeds before storing them.

Gardening Achievement

In conclusion, by properly drying seeds, a gardener is able to harvest many seeds from a single plant. Following these simple steps will yield better results. A great amount of benefits will be found by planting seeds from previous plants.

Before planting any seed, research whether or not it is suitable to be dried. Better yields is the goal! Therefore the seed maturity is the only way of achieving your goal.

Now that some questions have been answered, enjoy your gardening without any worries! I hope you really enjoyed reading this article and found the information useful. Stay in tune for the next post to discover a lot of things that will improve your gardening skills. Also feel free to ask any gardening question and I’ll be glad to help.

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Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

Genesis 1:29

Related Questions

Do you need to dry out pepper seeds before planting? If you plan on storing the seeds for the next season, then you must thoroughly dry them. If you plan on planting them immediately, then drying isn’t necessary.

Can you plant dehydrated seeds? If the seeds have been through any sort of processing, such as being dehydrated under high-temperature conditions, then the seeds will probably not germinate.

Can you plant frozen seeds? Storing seeds in the freezer can be a good option for certain flowers and vegetables. Just make sure the seeds are fully dry and in an airtight container before storing.

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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