Starting Citrus from Seed

Remember my dead kumquats?

Yes, it is finally time to put them to rest.

RIP Kumqats

And plant some more citrus!

Mama Meyer

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve saved some Meyer lemon seeds and blood orange seeds.

I’m doing a test to see if pre-germinating them with the paper towel method is any better than planting directly into soil.

In Plants from Pits, Holly Farrell says to plant citrus seeds directly into soil, but Leslie Halleck, in Plant Parenting says, “Seeds of stone fruits, such as peaches and apricots, nut trees, or citrus seeds, will root more successfully if you pre-sprout them” (emphasis mine). She suggests chitting seeds. I didn’t know what chitting was before reading her book, but I was familiar with “the paper towel method,” which, as it turns out, is the exact same thing. Another term that means the same thing is “greensprouting.”

The paper towel method, for those of you who are not familiar, goes like this:

  1. Wet a paper towel
  2. Fold the seeds up in the wet paper towel
  3. Place the wet paper towel into a plastic bag
  4. Place plastic bag with seeds in paper towel in a warm place
  5. Wait until you see a sprout
  6. Plant the sprouted seeds

People claim this makes for more efficient germination. We shall see…

For my experiment, I planted half of my seeds directly into potting soil, and did the paper towel method with the other half.

Here are the potted seeds — blood orange seeds in the left pot and lemons in the right:

Blood orange seeds in the pot on the left, and meyer lemons on the right

I planted the seeds on one half of the pot, and I’ll put the pre-sprouted “chitted” seeds on the other half, so I can see their side-by-side growth.

Dots illustrate where I direct-planted seeds

I also added a plastic bags over the pots as Plants from Pits recommends.

And now, here’s the chitted version.

I placed the seeds on damp paper towels…

…folded them up and stored them inside of plastic bags.

I started the seeds on March 17th, and have been checking on them every couple of days. No growth to date on either front.

I suspect the chitted seeds will do better, but it’s a little more work to chit seeds, so I’m hoping this experiment will prove me wrong.

6 thoughts on “Starting Citrus from Seed”

    1. You can’t wait? Uh oh… you’ll have to. It’s gonna be *at least* 3-6 years.
      Also, don’t eat all of them – save some for me?

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