"Grape Soda Bush"
Germinating the seeds
Plant your seeds when you receive them for best germination.
Pre-treatment -- Scrape each seed over sandpaper or a nail file several times to scratch the hard seed coat, so water can enter easier. Next fill a small cup with very warm tap water (not scalding hot) and place the seeds in it. Keep the cup in a warm room. Within a day or two, the seeds will swell to about twice their size, and when they do, remove them and plant them as described later. If any seeds don't sprout within 48 hours, repeat the soak but use hotter water. The seeds should plump up from the second 48 hour soaking in water, but plant any that do not.
Plant them in small containers at least 2 inches (5 cm) tall with drainage holes. Use a well draining soil mix. I use a mix of 1 part coir fiber to 1 part perlite (use small- or medium-size perlite, not large chunks). An alternate mix is 2 parts quality potting soil to 1 part perlite or coarse horticultural sand.
Fill the pots with the mix, place a seed on top, cover with 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil, and water until evenly moist (but not fully saturated).
They germinate well between about 68 and 77 degrees F (20-25°C). A little cooler at night is ok. Avoid letting them get above 80° F (27°C) for prolonged periods. I recommend placing a minimum/maximum thermometer near the pots. If you enclose the pots in a plastic container to maintain moisture, leave it open slightly to prevent stem rot later.
Most of the seeds should sprout within 4 to 6 weeks, but may take up to 12 weeks. Once they sprout, give them bright light, but protect them from strong direct sun the first 2 months. An LED or fluorescent bulb kept 3 inches (8 cm) away provides the right amount of light (See: "Growing indoors with LED lights").
Watering -- Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy).
Fertilizing -- The first 2 months, feed weekly with a small amount of dilute (1/8 strength) liquid fertilizer. Hydroponic fertilizer is ideal for small seedlings, because it is easily absorbed and contains all essential nutrients. After 2 months, you may switch to a granular fertilizer that contains micronutrients, following the dosage on the package. Or continue feeding weekly with liquid fertilizer at 1/8 strength.
Growing onward --
Climate -- It comes from a climate where days are mild and nights are cool. It's untested in warmer climates, but it's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures regularly get warmer than about 85° F (29°C) and nights are warm (above 65°F / 18°C). In warm conditions, keep the pots shaded, perhaps by placing them inside a larger clay pot.
Increase the sun exposure gradually as they grow bigger until they are eventually in several hours of sun.
Mature plants could probably survive a few degrees of frost, but it's best to protect them from all frost, especially the first 2 years.
Pests to watch for - I have never noticed pests on them, but watch for any pests that may affect your other plants.
Have fun growing them!
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