Saturday, February 2, 2013

Germination of Coral Beans

I have used Coral beans as ornaments in terrariums where their bright red color provided some relief from all the green. The seeds never germinated in the terrarium, in spite of moisture and light. (To see a blooming coral bean plant, look here.)
When I received some seed from a fellow plant lover, I was skeptical of ever getting them to germinate. I read up on it and found out that the seed must be scarified before it will germinate. This meant I had to somehow make a nick in the tough red seed coat so water could get in for germination. I tried several things but it is pretty difficult to hold such a small seed and use sandpaper on it. I thought of something else that is very like sandpaper. Using a metal nail file alternating between the flat side and the edge, at length I was able to scrape away the red from a small spot to the white underneath. Then I soaked the seed (I only did about 4 or 5 because of the tediousness of the operation), starting in hot water and leaving them over night. Then I planted in soil and kept them moist till they germinated in about a week. Eventually I got 3 plants for my effort, so I would say germination is good once you get thru the seed coat.
 I have planted one of these in the ground and still have 2 others in pots, so I am waiting with anticipation to see what comes next.
All this leaves me to wonder how on earth germination occurs in the wild. Does the seed have to pass through the digestive track of some animal? What? What? What?

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