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Monday, March 9, 2015

Starting Texas Mountain Laurel from Seed

Q. I harvested some Texas Mountain Laura. Can I expect them to grow if I plant them in garden soil? Should I remove the outer shell first?
Texas mountain Laurel dried seed pods

A. Texas mountain Laurel can be started or propagated from seed but there is at least one major hurdle you must overcome. This hurdle is the very hard coat around the seed, not the pod.
The seed is best harvested from pods that have not fully matured. If possible harvest the seed from pods that have not yet turned brown but give you a clear indication that there is a seed which has fully formed.
Texas mountain Laurel
For seeds to germinate they must absorb water, be at the right stage of development, have warm temperatures and air. This very hard seed coat does not permit water to enter the seed and begin the germination process.

 To my knowledge, this seed does not have to be stored in cold temperatures prior to starting them from seed. Some seeds from temperate climates have to go through a simulated winter in the refrigerator before you plant them or they will not germinate. 
This seed does not seem to need this. However, to be on the safe side take half of your seed and give them an 8 week cold treatment in the fridge and take the other half with no cold treatment and see what happens. Give them a cold treatment before you damage the seed coat.
Damaging the seed coat without damaging the seed permits water to enter and start the germination process. If the damage to the seed coat is too deep, the seed may die.
           The easiest way to damage the seed coat safely is to use a file or sandpaper and scratch or nick the seed coat deep enough so this barrier is breached but not deep enough to damage the seed itself.
           There will be some variation in these plants because they are propagated sexually, that is by seed. When these seedlings first come out and reach about 1 foot in height you can begin to discard plants that don't have the size or shape that you desire. This is called "roguing" out the seedlings.

Here is a good website to look at.

This website seems to say it needs a cold treatment

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