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How to Plant Tea Seeds

green tea image by Ragne Kabanova from

Tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is an upright growing evergreen shrub that is indigenous to regions in Southeast Asia. It is cultivated throughout the world for its leaves, which are used in creating the tea beverage. The tea plant prefers being grown in sun to part shade and thrives when provided tropical to subtropical conditions. Germinating tea seeds is best done with fresh seeds that have been carefully prepared beforehand.

Preparing Tea Plant Seeds

Place the tea plant seed into a bowl or a glass. Pour water over the seeds to cover them completely with water. Let the seeds soak in the water for no longer than 24 hours.

Discard all the seeds that are left floating, since these seeds will most likely not germinate. Keep all the tea plant seeds that are left at the bottom of the bowl or glass. These seeds are viable.

Place two paper towels into the bottom of a shallow plastic tray. Dampen down the paper towels using a plant mister or a spray bottle. Place the tea plant seeds onto the paper towels.

Place the tray into a sun-filled location in your garden. Mist the paper towels with water as often as needed to keep the seeds moist. Once the tea plant seeds develop a crack in their seed coat, usually in one or two days, you can plant them.

Planting Tea Plant Seeds

Fill up 4-inch plastic pots or planting packs with a good-quality soil-less seed-raising medium until the containers are full to about 1/2 inch from the top. The ideal medium for germinating tea plant seeds should have good drainage and excellent moisture-holding capabilities. You can use vermiculite, which has both these properties, as suggested by Dwight Sato, Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences at the University of Hawaii.

Poke 1-inch-deep holes in the center of each pot, or cell in the planting packs. You can use a pencil, pen or a chopstick to create the holes.

Drop one tea plant seed into each of the holes. The tea plant seeds should be planted with the eye of each seed planted horizontally in the soil (facing upwards). Cover up each of the seeds with 1 inch of seed-starting mix.

Place the pots or planting packs into the shallow plastic tray.

Set the tray into a moderately warm location in your home that will remain between 60 ad 70 degrees F during the entire germination period. Avoid any direct sunlight; keep the tray shaded. The tea plant seeds should remain moist, so spritz the surface of the soil as often as needed to maintain moisture. Germination usually takes between one and two months.

Move the tray to a location where it will receive about eight hours of indirect light daily when the seedlings have developed three to four leaves. Begin fertilizing the seedlings with a liquid-based 13-13-13 or 18-6-8 or similar fertilizer every 10 to 14 days.

Transfer each of the seedlings to a sheltered area of your garden and gradually begin exposing them to direct sunshine beginning with one to two hours a day until they can withstand full sun. Do this when they are about 1 foot tall.

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