Lavina Plum breeding Exercise (possible complications)

Hello Everyone,

Earlier this year I played the part of “dancing bee” with my Lavina plum, meaning I took my paintbrush and went from flower to flower with all the available pollen from my orchard at the time (Shiro, Dapple Dandy, Hollywood, and the apricots that were in bloom at the time).

I harvested 6 seeds that matured normally; the fruit was delicious. I crack off the hard outer shell and placed each kernel in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel, in the fridge for 3 months. All six seeds began germinating (the radicle extended out of the testa and began healthy levels of growth, just like successful nectarine seeds I’ve grown). I placed the seeds in room temperature soil and have waited the last two weeks. The nectarine seeds in that same time period sprouted and grew 5 inches above the surface. The Lavina plum seed development stopped!

I excavated 2 of the 6 seeds and they had rotted (RIP). Here are images of the remaining 4 to give you an idea of what’s left and what I’d like comment on; any thoughts are appreciated

The embryo is inside the circle. It’s not the healthiest looking thing I’ve ever seen but it MAY still be alive and developing.

The cotyledons all look healthy, green, and in good shape, but I had to manually take the testa off each one of them because they weren’t breaking free of it on their own. The radicle (first root) on the four remaining seeds is of good color and between 1 and 2 cm long but NO roots or root hairs have developed yet (no pictured)

This is the seed with the most developed embryo of all but it’s still quite tiny.

This embryo appears to be decaying (I’m guessing that from the brown discolored features)

I know there are people in the forum with far more experience with seedling plums than I have (this is my first time ever doing something like this). So I’d appreciate any thoughts you have. My guesses were that plum seed development may be very different from peach/nectarine seed development so I’m just witnessing a much slower process and being impatient. My other guess is that it’s possible the “dancing bee” pollination I did may have made seeds that weren’t viable in one form or another and they are aborting at this stage, and these a photos of abortions which can never develop. Happy to hear your thoughts.


Looks like dampening off to me. I never really noticed a difference in peach or plum seeds I have grown out. But I have not done a ton of them. I mean they look different, but besides that, no. Looks to me it is an environmental problem. Probably one of the many types of fungi that can attack young plants. Mites like seedlings too, especially indoors if you have more mature plants in the house. I have cacti and they carry mites every year. The cacti are asymptomatic as leaving them will not harm the cacti. But my other plants can and have been attacked and killed. I lost 6 pluot seedlings last year. They came about when I was on vacation and when I got back it was too late. I tried anyway and saved only one of them. It did’t grow a ton this year, maybe 6 inches high. I decided to protect it this winter and it is in a pot in the garage till early March. I will put it out then. It’s the toughest of the batch, so as far as vigor this plant has it. It should grow like a weed next year. I’m not sure which pluot it is? I have many. I was bummed as one of the pluot seedlings produced red leaves, but the mites killed it. I have raspberries and black currants I have crossed and grown out too. I’m just starting on the trees. My first set of trees were killed in their 2nd year after an early freeze. Which killed many of my plants. So it’s a long process for sure. I saved more pluot seeds this year but was late to harvest the kernels and most dried to nothing from last year’s harvest. Seems I always go through the school of hard knocks!


Thank for that info. One of my main questions was whether the nectarine seedling planted at the same time should be the yardstick to measure the growth of the plums, and you answered that for me. We do have other plants in the house. It’s definitely possible there are mites in here so it’s something I’ll look into for sure.

It does not look like mites, but it’s something to look for. It is strange, and you could be right. Some genetic problem. I doubt this though as if pollen is incompatible, you don’t get fruit in most cases. I heard of producing plants that are sterile, you know like a mule, but never anything about growth. So I don’t think that is an issue. Keep on the dry side. Using H. Peroxide 1/4 strength to water could kill any fungi or fungus gnats. Things happen and are often hard to figure out.

1 Like

The soil looks far too moist too me. I agree with drew on the dampening off. What are your temperatures and can you dry the soil mixture out a bit?

The temperature is 70 degrees and I could definitely dry the soil out some. I’m also going to use the peroxide solution Drew suggested.

Thats not bad but a little warmer like 78 or so may be better

1 Like

8 Days later and 2 more of the Lavinia embryos passed away. Now only two remain giving at lease some signs of viability. I used peroxide (1/4 strength) as a disinfectant as recommended, and might have to do it again since some threads of fungal growth have returned.

The main thing I’m observing in my autopsies is that there are NO ROOTS - the radicle is extending from the seed, reaches a modest length (less than an inch), then all root growth ceases. The healthiest embryo is pictured below and it is the the same situation. The tiny tiny little proto-leaves have greened slightly but have not gotten any larger. And no root growth has started.

A separate Dapple Dandy seed has germinated and passed the stage shown here, and the only difference in behavior is that the Dapple Dandy seed started growing roots off the radicle, and NONE of the Lavina seeds started growing roots. So with Lavina progeny it remains a mystery.


1 Like

It is very strange. Seedlings are challenging. I have lost many of them. I have crossed raspberries and the seed coat is so hard I had to use sulfuric acid. So the pluots/peaches seemed easy. Well they were not. Out of 3 peach seedlings and 8 plums or pluots I have one left. It is 2 feet tall now, yet that don’t matter. My peach seedlings were three feet tall when they died. Talk about bad luck. I do have grown out raspberry seedlings. Three of them. A pink, a yellow and a black that is everbearing or primocane fruiting. Huge berries on the black, a great specimen. I also have black mulberry morus nigra seedlings going on 3rd leaf. One should fruit this year.


Looks like nutrient lock-out killing the top bud. 2 common causes are over-watering and over-fertilization. Mold will usually not form on the medium if it is at the proper moisture level. Mold on top the medium means too much water, white crust means too much fertilizer. Many seedlings are susceptible to damp and hot nutrients until the roots are mature. Soaking the medium is something you do with outdoor pots, and mature plants under HID lamps. You don’t have wind and sun to get rid of the excess moisture, so you need to learn to maintain the optimum moisture for your medium. Keep the medium a little drier, and cover it in plastic sheeting with a slit cut for the seedling to pop through. It will dry very slowly this way, and can be kept moist with a few pumps of a spray bottle each week. The idea is to keep the medium constant, like the fig-pop method. Coco-peat bricks are great for germinating seeds. It is near-optimal when you firmly squeeze the excess moisture out.

1 Like

Very interesting! I’m wondering if there’s something about the genetics within Lavina (or the pollen parent) created an embryo susceptible to nutrient lock-out. Only the Lavina seeds experienced this situation. Dapple Dandy, Maria’s Nectarine, and Indian Free Peach seeds treated with identical conditions all germinated and grew normally (100% success over 7 seeds). Does anyone had experience with a genetically finicky seed? My assumption was that if a seed was destined to be non-viable the mother tree “senses” that an aborts it before fruit ripening.

It does happen that seeds fail to thrive, but if it is happening that consistently, it may be environmental. Finicky roots seems most plausible.

1 Like

I think its more likely that those seeds just need it to be drier than the other ones and are maybe more susceptible to root rot.