How To Prepare Cotton Seeds For Planting?

Cotton is an important commercial product in the United States and around the world. In addition to using cotton to make textiles, the plant is also used as a landscape plant in states that allow it. Cotton plants have surprisingly pretty, hibiscus-like flowers that start out white, turn deep pink and then become cotton bolls. In this article, we discuss how to prepare cotton seeds for planting in your landscape. We also provide information to help you plant cotton seed and raise the plants successfully. Read on to learn more.

Why Have Cotton Plants In Your Landscape?

why have cotton plants in your landscape

In addition to being pretty, unusual landscape plants, cotton plants produce beautiful, versatile flowers.

They look gorgeous in your yard, and the seed pods (cotton bolls) look pretty in dried flower arrangements. Growing a few cotton plants can also be an interesting learning experience for children.

Before you do plant cotton seeds, be sure to find out whether or not it is permitted in your state. Call your county extension office for the most up to date information.

Growing cotton in your backyard could seriously interfere with your state’s cotton crop because backyard growers may inadvertently provide a haven for the dreaded boll weevil, which can cause dramatic damage to commercial cotton.

3 Ways To Prepare Cotton Seed For Planting

3 Ways To Prepare Cotton Seed For Planting
  1. You can just plant cotton seeds directly into rich, loose soil with lots of organic matter and plenty of direct sunlight (4-5 hours minimum) enough water and warmth, most seeds will eventually germinate and grow.
  2. To speed up and ensure germination, you can soak cotton seed in warm water overnight and then allow it to dry out before planting it directly in soil as described above.
  3. To be very certain of successful germination and weed out any seeds that might be duds, you can lay cotton seeds on a damp paper towel; fold the towel around the seeds, and place it in a sealed plastic container in a dark place for a couple of days.

When you check on the seeds, you’ll find that the viable seeds have sprouted and are ready to be transferred into a small pot of rich potting soil to get a start on life.

How To Grow Your Own Cotton Plants From Seed To Plant

This is a good way to get a head start on the growing season by starting your seeds indoors late in the winter.

If you live in a cold climate with a short growing season, this method of preparing cotton seeds for planting is recommended.

Can Cotton Plants Grow In A Container?

Cotton can make a nice container plant, but you’ll need a big container. It must be at least three feet deep and equally as wide.

If you have a big planter on your patio or other location that gets plenty of sunlight, you can put your cotton plants there.

Be sure to prepare the soil properly for best results. It’s good to use container mix, but if your planter already has soil in it, at least top dress the soil with about an inch of compost.

Work it into the soil well to provide nourishment for your seeds/seedlings. Compost also helps soil drain better.

How Do You Plant Cotton Seeds & Seedlings?

how do you plant cotton seeds & seedlings

Cold soil causes cotton seeds to rot. To direct sow cotton seeds into the landscape, you must wait until the soil is reliably 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Check it early in the morning, several days in a row.

When you get an acceptable temperature reading over the course of several days, you can sow the seeds (three at a time) a distance of four inches apart and one inch deep.

TIP: Don’t worry about whether the pointy or round end of the seed is up. The seeds are small, and the seedling will figure out which way the roots should go and which way the vegetation should go!

Give your seeds a deep, slow watering that provides even moisture to the top six inches of soil, minimum. If you water properly, you will not need to water again until your seedlings show their heads.

Timing Is Important!

If you are planting seedlings, wait until the weather is reliably warm for outdoor planting. Transition seedlings to the outdoors by giving them a little bit of time outside every day as the weather begins to warm.

Temperatures should be between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for seedlings to make a successful transition.

Don’t wait too long, though! Your plants will need between sixty-five and seventy-five days of temperatures reliably above 60F to bloom.

Once they’ve bloomed, they’ll need another fifty days for the seed pods (cotton bolls) to mature. If your climate is too cool, or you wait too long, you may only get flowers but no cotton!

Cotton Plant Time Lapse

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does cottonseed have a use other than growing cotton as a textile?

Yes, cottonseed is an important source of animal feed supplement. As a feed supplement, cottonseed meal is high in nutrients, protein and fiber. It is an affordable feed additive for both domestic stock and wildlife. Deer farmers and those keeping deer plots especially like to offer fortified cottonseed meal.

2. Why is fortified cottonseed meal a good deer feed?

Cottonseed feed products that have been fortified with minerals and vitamins are especially good for pregnant and lactating does and their fawns. The nourishment this feed supplement provides helps with milk production and supports fawn health. Young bucks whose mothers have been fed cottonseed feed, and who consume it themselves, have far more impressive antler growth than those who have fed on forage alone. Even so. it is important to offer ample forage along with feed supplement.

3. Do wildlife other than deer benefit from eating cottonseed feeds?

Generally speaking, ruminant wildlife, such as elk, antelope and a wide variety of other exotic species will do well with cottonseed meal offered in a free-feed manner. Sometimes wildlife won’t know what to do with it because they don’t immediately recognize it as food. When this is the case, try sprinkling or mixing it with a foodstuff they do recognize, such as cracked corn until they get used to it.

4. Does domestic livestock benefit from cottonseed feed products?

Yes, ruminant livestock, such as cattle, sheep and goats all do well with cottonseed meal added to their regular ration. Some equine pellets have cottonseed meal included; however, it is important to understand that you should not feed straight cottonseed meal to equines as it contains harmful gossypol, which can cause sudden death in horses. The processing procedures used to make pelleted feeds inactivates this substance.

5. What is cottonseed oil good for?

Refined cottonseed oil is a vegetable oil that is used in lots of commercial food products, such as chips, cookies and crackers. The refined oil is a clear, stable, high heat oil. It is edible, contains quite a bit of vitamin E and can be used for cooking and for making personal care products. It is a fairly healthy oil in terms of cholesterol, but it does contain quite a bit of saturated fat so can be bad for your heart. Unrefined cottonseed oil is a different product altogether. This yellow oil contains the aforementioned toxin, gossypol. It is not at all edible and should not be used to make personal care products. It is useful in making pesticides, however.

3 thoughts on “How To Prepare Cotton Seeds For Planting?”

  1. You said in the article that cottons need to prepare 65 to 75 days before planting. Can I reduce this period to around 50 days?

    • Hello Kevin, Cotton plants take 65-75 days in warm temp to BLOOM. You can get a head start by growing the seedlings indoor, and transplanting the seedlings outdoor when temperatures are reliably above 60°.

    • It takes a minimum of 60 days to get a cotton plant to bloom; however, as mentioned by another reader, if you have a short growing season, you can start plants in a greenhouse and then transplant them.


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