Monday, September 10, 2012

Hoya seeds : the Frequently Asked Questions

Q: - I cultivate many plant species for their seeds but as far as my Hoya are concerned I almost never see any seed pods although I grow about 100 Hoya species. What do you you do in order to get seed pods ?

A: - before moving , to escape the floods, to our new site set in a forest and surrounded by national parks in Phang Nga we had been in Pathumtani, a province of Thailand known until 2011 ( before the seasonal floods ) for its numerous orchards and orchid nurseries. Also our location there, near the island : Kho Kret , harbored many bird species and sounded to be interesting for pollination, at least for the open pollination of orchids. But in spite of this apparently favorable situation for pollination of the Hoya plants, only a few times over several years of activity did we see seed pods from the thousands of Hoya plants that we were growing - I don't say selling ! - on the site. When visiting other Hoya nurseries in other provinces, far from cities or polluting industries, we were led to the same observation : many beautiful Hoya plants but no seeds !!

We must conclude now that some factors in our new environment - a forest - allow pollination to occur : links to pictures of our nursery set in Phang Nga in a forest of high trees are available on our Hoya seed page . The pictures show how a preserved natural situation is an advantage for the open pollination of Hoya plants.

Q: - So what is new and that was missing from your former site ?

A: - To be honest, we don't know, we have only some clues, good sense is no substitute for scientific methodology. The average temperature, amount and period of light, use of phytosanitary products, fertilizing methods etc all this doesn't seem different now in our forest.

But the broad situation has changed : the " urban " part near our area is very small and the uninhabited rain forest is just near, extended on very large areas to the north and north - east. We may also benefit from a micro climate that insects in general - or some instects in particular - appreciate : we are close to the sea and surrounded by hills, so winds and seasonal rains bring aeration, freshness and fast climate changes. Changes can occur so fast that the presence of rain and sun at the same time is not uncommon here.

Q: - You have started to sell Hoya seeds , what information do you have about their periods of viability and rates of germination ?

A: - At the moment we sell seed species that we have tested after a week to ten days after harvest. Our results are excellent, germination rates are in the range 85% - 95%, depending on species.

Q: - Do the clients who buy your seeds know when they were harvested ?

A: - Yes the date is written on the wrapping paper ( the seeds are wrapped in a clean thick white paper inside a zip plastic bag to keep them from drying too fast ). The seed list on our seed page is updated continuously, and at this address aleyagarden reports all germination tests.

Q: - How do you conduct these tests ?

A:- Knowing the dates of harvest we aim to test seeds that are two months old and extend to longer periods or, on the contrary, re - test after shorter periods. All seeds passing the two months test with good germination rates will go for longer periods in a fridge : we must also determine viability after cold storage.

Q: - Are all seeds viable when harvested from a split pod ?

A: - No, depending on species the quantity of viable seeds is variable. We are of course talking about ripe seeds of split pods, not seeds that were harvested too late or too early. Once a non mature pod has been severed from the plant by a too early harvest, the seeds inside won't ripen.

In the video above we show how we discard up to 90% of ripe alagensis seeds from their pod : indeed experience with tactile and visual information tells if a seed will have a high chance of germination or not. Probably some misinformation regarding the sexual reproduction of Hoya plants and rates of viability has circulated because of assumptions done with non viable pods as the seeds had not been selected.

Q: - How long does it take to receive seeds ?

A: - Aleyagarden has a reservation service : our client emails to her list of wanted seeds and once ripe in the pods the seeds are selected and shipped by registered envelope Air. As Aleyagarden staff works and lives at the nursery an opening pod is detected immediately : ripe seeds won't stay in their pod more than a few hours after the opening ! Our post office closes at 15 : 30. So depending on the importing country the number of days from harvest to sowing will be in western countries from 5 to 15.

Q: - What about countries with a very slow customs / postal service ?

A: - As I said, for the moment we have limited our tests to 10 days after harvests, hence it would be reasonable to wait the results of our viability tests after 2 months if the delivery address is in Brazil for instance. Our tests will be published on this blog. our Hoya seed page will share the link.

Q: - Will Aleyagarden intend to supply seed shops ?

A: - Yes of course, we will aim to present a wholesale price structure but this can be done with seeds offering a long viability so they can be stored : our tests will tell us. Alternatively, until our results are posted, orders of non stored seed can be grouped, Aleyagarden sells hoya seeds by batches of 10 or 5.

Q: - What media do you recommend ?

A: - Aleyagarden uses pieces of two years old coconut shells that were thoroughly washed in water to remove tannins and other potentially harmful chemicals. The washing aims also at reducing the demand for nitrogen by the coconut pieces when they age further. Any media like mixes of sphagnum moss and peat should be right so long as it does not contain fungi. In a too moist environment with poor aeration various fungal diseases can damage seedlings, slow their growth or prevent seeds from germinating. However some endophytic fungi are known to be beneficial ( ), this is why using fungicide may not be a good option.

Q: - Apart from the lower cost of Hoya seeds as compared to the plants, what advantages do seeds have ?

A: - Aleyagarden seeds are produced by open pollination of flowers from thousands of Hoya plants in the same area. This method relies on genetic variability ( through self pollination, or cross-pollination between matching Hoya sections ) to create off type plants, that is in new generations of plants some individuals with traits that differ from those of the parent(s). Open pollination tends to increase natural biodiversity, which is reduced by other activities.

Hoya, Hoya seeds, Orchid seeds, Ferns, Fern spores and other plant collections are for sale on Plant care is available in various posts of this blog. Contact :

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