Sandoval at Fresno - Cactus Seed Germination

Eugene Zielinski
Tue, 11 Jun 2013 20:21:46 PDT
David, and others.
I realize this is a bit off topic, but I want to share something I learned
about cactus seed germination, by experiment.  The smaller globular cacti,
such as Mammillaria, Matucana, Lobivia, Trichocereus, etc. require LIGHT
for germination.  Therefore, covering the seed with "a thin layer of sand"
will almost guarantee erratic germination.
I tried the following experiment.  I took equal numbers of seed (about 20)
of several species.  They were planted in two containers on the surface of
the growing medium.  One container was left uncovered (well...covered with
clear plastic); the other was covered with aluminum foil.  Both were placed
about 4 inches (10 cm) under regular fluorescent tubes which were on for
about 12 hours a day.  Temperature was about 70 F (20 C).  I had complete
germination within 2-3 weeks for the uncovered containers and no
germination in the covered containers (until I removed the aluminum foil
and exposed them to light).  I did not try this with a lot of species, but
I am convinced of the light requirement.
I also tried this with some opuntia relatives.  They did not respond to
light, but germinated erratically, and in low numbers.
Give the Sandoval method a try, but without the covering of sand.  You may
be pleasantly surprised at how easily cactus seed germinates.

Eugene Zielinski
Prescott Valley, AZ

> [Original Message]
> From: David Ehrlich <>
> To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
> Date: 6/11/2013 6:31:29 PM
> Subject: [pbs] Sandoval at Fresno
> I attended Ernesto Sandoval’s lecture on South African bulbs Thursday
evening at 
the Fresno Cactus and Succulent Society...
He demonstrated a technique for seed germination which I really liked, and
be trying out in the future.  He plants the seeds in a well-drained mix
vermiculite, perlite, pumice, etc.), covers them with a thin layer of sand, 
waters them and lets them drain thoroughly, then encloses the pots in a
baggie.  When the seed germinate, he opens the zipper to allow air
As they become sturdier, he removes them from the baggies; eventually he
them out.  His modus is to not stress the plants with too much change at a 
time.  Sounds sensible to me.
David Ehrlich

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