poor germination

Earlier this year, many sprouted seeds failed to germinate in a medium consisting of equal parts Jiffy Mix seed starter and perlite.

Germination improved greatly after switching to a mix of Fafard 3B and perlite.

Dry Jiffy Mix is powdery; wet Jiffy Mix is soggy, releasing free water when pressed lightly.

Don’t do what I did: buy a bag of seed starter from a big box store, and expect that adding perlite will provide adequate drainage and aeration.

I bought “organic” Miracle Grow potting soil, beacause it didn’t have Miracle Grow fertilizer in it. Boy was I surprized when I opened the bag up. It’s basically ground up tree bark. It’s way to course to be starting seeds in. I cleaned it up as best I could and planted a few seeds in it anyway because I didn’t have anything else to use at the time. It’s too early to see if it affected germination or not. Time will tell.

None of the media recommended in the recent newsletter (Pro Mix, Sunshine mix, Metro Mix) are available here in marysville, oh; ironically, mville is world hq of scotts, the maker of metro mix (and miracle gro).

Metro Mix is owned by Sun Gro now, as is RediEarth, which was owned by Scott’s for a while. I didn’t know that Metro Mix was owned by Scott’s.

While working at scotts greenhouses, i saw bags of metro mix 360, and assumed (incorrectly) that it was a scotts product.

I use Pro Mix and have always had good success with all my seed starting whatever it might be … though, when Pro Mix not been available, I’ve used other brands and results have suffered, sometimes badly!


I mix my own. It’s just easier to intuitively trust what you’re doing on your own when you cant afford to buy in mass bulk from afar.

I mix my own, and assume some consistency from year to year, but have major inconsistencies in germination from one year to the next. Point being, simply, I’m disinclined to blame the mix too quickly for erratic germination. In addition to the extreme variability of crosses and the cultivation of the fruiting parent in any year, moisture content of medium could vary slightly as well as less obvious causes.

Am I being too dismissive of the obvious?

One variable that probably does exist is whether or not I sterilize the mix. (Sometimes I microwave steam it, but I have never paid much attention to correlation of results. I wonder if such might actually destroy natural beneficial enzymes in peat moss?)

Philip, I agree that germination rates from the same crosses can vary significantly from one year to the next.

I am sure that there are many factors that are difficult to control for.

Jim Sproul

I have also had very poor germination rates in Jiffy Mix and Perlite.

Which I guess for the amount of time I have, is ok-I have a much more managable number of seedlings.

I’ve very good germination in just basic seedsoil. Nothing extra, nothing special and they sprout like weeds. Don’t even know where to put them…

Is all this special soil really needed?