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seeds Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) and Seed Germination


Extreme Member
I know a lot of people have limited and often older seed from strains they don't want to lose and if information I've found can be helpful, I want to pass it on.  I also know that different studies and experiences suggesting different things do and don't work, so I'm not trying to say this is the best or only way to do things. Just something for people to consider along with their own experience.
I've read quite a bit on seed germination and experimented with different methods and treatments.  One thing that's become fairly constant for me is the use of H2O2 in a pre-soak.  Without getting too far into it, I think it can be helpful in several ways, one of which is increasing the oxygen available to the seed. Availability of oxygen can be critical with older seeds, and I suspect (but don't know and haven't seen any study on it), with seeds that were dried more quickly or at higher temperatures.  While I don't think hyper-oxygenation is necessary with young, well-preserved pepper seeds, it still may help, plus H2O2 soaks can play other roles, such as with chemical scarification and as an anti-pathogen, which can affect the choice of whether to use it, how to use it, and in what concentration.
Below is an abstract from a University of Florida study (I edited it some to shorten it) that speaks to use of H2O2 in germination.  When the study speaks to an optimal concentration of 0.15% (1:19 ratio of 3% H2O2 and water), it also concludes that higher concentrations tested (including 1:9) were just as effective, but are not "optimal" because they used more H2O2 to get the same result. Another interesting point (from a different study, IIRC) is that soaking seeds in excess of 24 hours resulted in poorer post-germination growth than soaking seeds 12-24 hours, with 24 being optimal for germination and subsequent growth.  I suspect seed variety, size, and durability of the seed coat may all play meaningful roles in determining the proper soak time for a given seed.
Abstract. Large and/or aged seeds are prone to hypoxic [deprived of adequate oxygen supply] conditions during germination. Germination of selected vegetable seeds including corn, squash, and tomato was studied in water with different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) solution ranging from 0, 0.06% to 3.0%. Imbibition, oxygen consumption, proton extrusion, and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADHase) activity of corn seeds were measured. The results showed that 0.15% H2O2 provided the optimum oxygen concentration for seed germination. The germination percentage of aged corn seeds treated with H2O2 was significantly greater than those without H2O2 treatment. Corn embryo orientation in relation to a moist substrate also significantly impacted oxygen bioavailability to the embryo and hence ADHase activity. Corn seeds without H2O2 imbibed significantly more slowly than those with oxygen fortification by 0.15% H2O2. Increased oxygen bioavailability improved the metabolism of the seeds, which extruded 5-fold more protons from the embryos. Each treated embryo consumed twice the amount of oxygen as compared with the untreated one and likewise for treated and untreated endosperms. Increased oxygen bioavailability may be used to improve production of the tested crops. The results from this research imply that consideration should be given to including oxygen fortification in seed coatings for aged seeds and for large seeds regardless of age. The artificial provision of bioavailable oxygen might be effective in rescuing the germplasm in aged seeds in plant breeding and in crop production.
The full PDF is currently available at - https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/eecd/86a90e751420dbe5e1aa43d15ac879915286.pdf


Extreme Member
I have no doubt that my monkey-fingered blend of H2o & H2o2 was a huge factor in a 24-hour germination of both a white and a violet Pinenta de Neyde X Bonda Ma Jacque sprouts just the other day. I let the soak go almost two full days (a little over 36 hours) and the entire soak contained around 15 seeds. I did note that when they came out of the "sauce" that a few of them had what looked like root tails appearing, but I shrugged it off as placenta remnants.

Being not a horticulturalist saves me from tossing any $300 words around regarding the event, but I was certainly amazed.


Extreme Member
Yeah that 0.75% solution you used is what I use most often for a bit more breakdown of the seed coat and treatment against germs, plus I haven't seen any negative effect of running it for 24 hours.  Seems like those seeds were just ready to go - which is not a bad thing when you're starting Chinense in mid March!  Was great to see those come through so quick for you and a really cool variety.
BTW - I think "horticulturalist" may be getting you into those pricey words, but you can probably get away with "plant-guy" for only about three-fitty
Hi Cane Dog. The weather so far has been quite unusual, so I hope the pattern mellows out for the summer. The boom cyclone was quite unexpected for much of the country, but we just plod along. I have never tried H2O2 for seeds but have some older ones I may just experiment on next year. Why throw away experiments? Hope you have a very productive gardening season this year. We can always try.


Extreme Member
...it's starting to be that time again.
Thanks CD.