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I'm trying something a bit new. I wanted to try germinating peach pits that I could grow as bonsai trees, and I understand the pits need to go through a period of cold stratification of 90-120 days.

I had a small container(small plastic takeout container) that I cut drainage holes into. I filled it with some peat, and watered thoroughly. I let most of the water drain out until the peat was moist, and sowed the peach pits, which were scrubbed and left alone for a bit, and put the container into the fridge.

It's been about a month now, and I got a bit curious on how they were progressing, so I took a look into the container, and saw that the seeds had some blue/green fuzz on them. My first guess that this is mold and that I should throw the whole thing out, but I wanted to get another opinion, and some advice on how I should proceed or where I went wrong.

Also, I'm trying to germinate some Bing Cherry seeds(getting into the habit of trying to sprout anything I can get my hands on), and if the peaches do in fact have mold, and need to be thrown out, should I throw these out also?

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    @Stephie just updated the question with pictures, thanks – Glenak1911 Sep 2 '17 at 5:48
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Yes, you can throw away the peach pits because they have mold. If the cherry pits are the same, throw them also. As for recommendations on how to optimize the process next time:

PEACH

The first thing to keep in mind is that early fruiting peach trees have immature embrios that will die before germinating. This is why you have to make sure you got the pit from a late fruiting peach tree. I don't know what varieties are available where you live, but if I were you I would take the pit from fruit bought at the end of the season.

The pit in your photo shows mold in the sunken areas where most likely some parts of the fruit kept being attached, so next time try to scrub the pit with sand using a brush so that the risk of mold is minimized. After you consider it cleaned, rinse 5 times. After rinsing, you can prepare a 10% salt solution and test the pit. If it sinks, the embrio is viable, if it floats - you can discard it. If it is viable, rinse well the pit in order to eliminate the salt from its surface.

Place the pit on a slightly moist substrate made of sand, perlite and peat in equal parts. If you don't want to add fungicide from time to time, make the mix only from sand and perlite. It's not sufficient to drain the water from the mix because there can be too much humidity even when water is not flowing out anymore. That's why you can wet the mixture with only a little water in another pot that has no drainage, and when you consider it evenly wet you can move it to the box with drainage holes where you want to keep the pit.

Maybe different varieties or climate lead to a 90-120 days of stratification, I don't know, but where I live, stratification lasts for 150 days and starts in september after harvesting the fruit. The temperature should be 4-8°C for the first three months and 2-4°C for the rest of the period. After stratification the pit needs 18-20°C to germinate.

CHERRY

Cherry pits need 160 days of stratification at the same temperature as peach ones. The good part is that you don't have to worry about immature embrios.

  • Thanks for this answer. It was very informative. Would you recommend cracking open the shell and planting the kernel inside as well, or should the whole seed be planted? – Glenak1911 Sep 19 '17 at 15:57
  • On large scale at fruit-tree nurseries the whole shell is planted. I haven't heard of planting only the kernel. Theoretically it should work if it is not damaged in the process, but practically I don't know. If I were you, I'd plant it with the shell because the temperatures and time frames are taken from whole shell planting. – Alina Sep 19 '17 at 20:33

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