Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 27, 2013

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding
Title: Removing insects from seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Minnette Marr

QUESTION:

I collect and plant native seed for Blackland Prairie restoration. Have recently collected a good bit of purple prairie clover. Now small beetles are hatching out of it in pretty good numbers. What can I safely put on or with the seed to kill the beetles but not the seed?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants contacted our seed preservation expert, Minnette Marr, and here is what she said:

"The folks at the Bend Seed Extractory actually place contact paper in the container with seeds as a way to "capture" insects.
 
The seeds would need to be dry before being placed in freezer.  Silicon dioxide can be purchased in small quantities at hobby stores.  It is usually found with the supplies for weddings because it can be used to preserve flower arrangements. 

Place the seeds in a cloth bag or paper envelop that will fit into a pint or quart jar.  Place about an equal amount of the desiccant in the bottom of the jar.  Place the bag of seeds over the desiccant and screw the jar lid on tightly.  The desiccant will absorb moisture from the seeds (and the insects).  Repeat as needed to remove excess moisture from the seeds.  Usually three times does the job.  Silicon dioxide is blue when dry, pink when wet.  When an amount equal to the mass/volume of the seeds stays blue for 24 hours, the seeds can safely be placed in a freezer. 

Some seeds are harder to germinate after freezing.  Some require freezing to germinate.  Since Temple does not receive many hard freezes, I suggest trying the contact paper first."

 

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Male pollinator to produce berries on Juniperus virginiana from Amston CT
November 08, 2012 - We have planted 3 juniperus virginiana 'Glauca' (on our Connecticut property) that have a few blue berries on them. Will they need a male pollinator to make berries? We do not have other juniperus...
view the full question and answer

Scarifying seeds of evergreen sumacs from Lockhart TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Smarty Plants, We would like to grow our own evergreen sumacs. Consulting Nokes book, How to Grow Native Plants on page 310, it says to scarify fresh uncleaned seeds for 30-45 minutes. On page...
view the full question and answer

Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
September 30, 2012 - I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of som...
view the full question and answer

Raising bluebonnets in Stanford CA
January 17, 2011 - I'm a Houston girl now living in Northern California (Stanford). I would like to know if I need to adjust my growing timing for lupinus texensis? Mostly, I want to know when I should actually put th...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet seeds north of Chicago
March 11, 2008 - Hi My husband is originally from Texas - we now live north of Chicago. Last year he bought a whole bunch of Blue bonnet seeds from a company that said they would grow in our area... I planted enough ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.