Diagnosing problems

Check the following items and if your seedlings do not improve contact our experts at TreeProject.

No germination

Germination time varies according to the species of your seedling. For the germination details for your species of seedling, please go to the Seedling Database.

Poor seed quality

Not all seed is viable. Australian species will throw seed that is weak when the mother plant has been through a stressful season.

Seed species have their own ripening and life timetable. Some seed need to ripen for several months before sowing. Some loose viability after a given amount of time.

This Allocasuarina seed that has not been stored properly can become infected and eaten out by insects.

Propagation setup

Boxes on the ground are easily accessed by slugs and snails that eat the emergent shoots before you see them. Check down between tubes and under boxes. Raise the boxes off the ground.

Ants are expert seed collectors. Keep seedling tubes in polystyrene boxes or in trays to prevent ants accessing the bottom of the tubes. Make sure the tubes are kept moist because ants will settle in dry soil. If the ant infestation is severe, place containers of water under the bench legs to stop ants climbing up. Ant powders may be used.

Inappropriate watering

Inappropriate watering can cause irreparable damage. Potting mix must be kept moist, not wet at all times. Watering too heavily can wash the seed away or drown. Look for seeds germinating between the tubes. This indicates overflow. High pressure nozzles will blast seeds out of tubes. A fine spray is essential.



Be sure to always release the water that has been sitting in the hose while lying in the sun. The residue water in the hose will be very hot and will cook the seed.

Inappropriate pre-treatment or sowing practices

Many species of seed will not germinate without appropriate pre-treatment. Some seed need special sowing procedures. Large or winged seeds not covered with sufficient soil will wash to the surface and dry out. Fine seed sown too deep (melaleucas and callistemon) will struggle to reach the surface. It is important to follow instructions on sowing depth.

If seedlings do not appear, check with your co-ordinator or the TreeProject office before re-sowing or abandoning the kit. Other growers may have back up seedlings for you to transplant.

Extreme weather

Tubes need to have sun light to create a warm environment for your seeds to germinate, however too much sun and strong winds on extremely hot days will stress and dehydrate the soil causing the seed to dry out and kill the tender emerging shoot.

Heavy rain will dislodge the seed. Continual rain will drown the seed. Get the tubes under cover in extreme weather.