The use of peat pellets for geranium seedling may be tempting considering their ease of use. You just place your geraniums seeds in the water-drenched peat pellet, cover them up, and next thing you know, you are rewarded with several little sprouts emerging after just a few days. As easy-peasy as using peat pellets for geranium seedlings may seem, there are several precautions you will need to take so to help your seedlings survive and thrive into healthy looking geranium plants.
The Greenhouse Effect
Peat pellets often come with an accompanying dome that is meant to provide a greenhouse effect, locking the moisture in so that you don’t need much watering done.
The moisture is what the seeds need to sprout faster considering that it helps soften the seeds. The use of the dome therefore grants faster germination times, especially if used along with a seedling heat meat equipped with a thermostat set to providing a soil temperature between 70 and 75 degrees, which is what geranium seeds prefer.
This year we used a dome and peat pellets and we were pleasantly surprised to see record germination times with the earliest geranium seed sprouting only after three days!
Tip: don’t have a dome? You can easily replace it with one of those see-through plastic containers with lids, place the peat pellets with seeds inside, cover with the lid and watch them sprout in no time.
Out and About
While a dome may be helpful for getting geranium seeds to germinate faster, consider that it’s very important to get those sprouted seeds out as soon as possible.
Seedlings need lots of light and sunshine as soon as they sprout,which prevents them from getting too leggy. On top of that, if you are using a seedling heat mat, consider that keeping sprouted geraniums on it for too long may cause damage to their delicate roots.
So as soon as you see any sprouting, get those babies out and let them enjoy plenty of sunshine preferably on a South-facing windowsill or put them under growing lights.
Peat pellets offer the advantage that you can take any sprouted seedlings out of the dome as needed, while the ones who need a bit more time to germinate can be left behind for a few more days if needed.
Prone to Drying Up
One of the biggest disadvantage of peat pellets, is that once they are out of their dome, they are prone to get dry very quickly, but they also tend to soak up lots of water at once when watered. You therefore need to be very careful, as your geranium seedlings may be getting too much or too little water.
Generally, when you see the peat pellets turning light brown and they feel light when you lift them, it’s time to water. When you water the peat pellet, the color of the dirt will turn to dark brown/black.
Peat pellets offer the advantage that you can water them from the bottom up. Just get a deep dish, fill it with a few inches of water and place the peat pellets there for few minutes. They will soak up the water and turn dark brown/black.
Bottom watering offers the advantage of not damaging the seedlings when watering from the top. Some also say bottom watering prevents root rot, but this seems a subject of controversy.
A Happy Transplant
Generally, your geranium seedlings are ready to be transplanted once they develop their first set of true leaves. What are true leaves? They are the leaves that resemble the leaves of adult geraniums.
When a geranium seedling sprouts, its first leaves are actually cotyledons, embryonic versions of leaves. Cotyledons are oval in shape, while true leaves in geraniums are more roundish, with their typically scalloped appearance along the edges.
Something to make a note of when using peat pellets to grow geraniums seeds is the need to cut through the netting at the bottom of the peat pellet when transplanting.
Several gardeners have noticed that the net surrounding the peat pellet may not decompose quickly enough. The roots develop and have no room for expanding which may obviously lead to problems.
So don’t forget this important step, you don’t want your geranium plants to struggle after all the tender loving care you have given them!
Peat pellets are just another way to plant seedlings, some love them, some hate them. One of the main advantages is that they reduce the chances for transplant shock. All you need to do is cut the netting at the bottom and plop them neatly in a new pot. The seedling hardly notices any difference. However, the biggest downsides are their variabilities with moisture, many people struggle with their drying up or absorbing moisture.