The process of germinating seeds may seem simple but you may not achieve the expected results if you don’t follow the correct procedure.
In this guide, we have explained everything you need to do to get the best results when germinating seeds.
You can germinate your seeds in 5 different methods which include, in the soil, in water, in cartons, in veggies or fruits and you can also germinate them through a self-watering process.
Once you have picked your desired method, you need to start with preparing the seeds and then plant them.
After this, you need to take care of them through the last stage which is the post-germination stage. Before we go into details, let us first explain what seed germination entails.
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What is Germinating Seeds?
Germination is simply the process that seeds turn into plants. It is also referred to as sprouting.
However, for a seed to develop into a plant, it requires several things. Some of them such as a suitable growing medium like soil, water, sunlight, and also the right temperatures. This may vary from one type of seed to the other which means that you need to confirm before you start setting up the seeds for germination.
The whole process is activated by water. When the seed gets water through a process called imbibition, the enzymes or proteins in the seed get activated and this enables it to start growing. It then develops a root which enables it to get water and after that, it starts to shoot.
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Once the shoot grows towards the surface, it turns into leaves which enable it to get light from the sun.
After this, the leaves start to develop towards the source of light through a process known as photomorphogenesis. Below are the 5 methods you can use to germinate seeds.
5 Effective Ways of Germinating Seeds
Whether you want to germinate seeds indoors or outdoors there are different methods you can use if you want to get the best results. Here are 5 ways of germinating seeds.
1. Germinating Seeds in the Soil
This is the most common method and the easiest. There are creative ways of doing it, especially when doing it indoors or if you have limited space. For example, you can use plastic containers.
The major benefit of using plastics is that they do not decay. As a result, they are highly durable, meaning that you can recycle them. When using plastic containers, you should place them near the window where the seeds will get enough sunlight.
Apart from the plastic containers, you can also use tin cans. These are actually the best if you need to grow many seeds in a limited space. The good thing about them is that they are deep and wide. It means that you may not need pots. You may also paint them with beautiful colors to enhance their look.
If you would like to sprout different seeds at the same time, muffin trays will be the best but if you need something stylish, muffin trays will be the best.
2. Germinating Seeds in Water
Seeds can grow in water through a process known as imbibition. You can do this simply by placing them in a cup full of water. This process speeds up the metabolic stages needed by the seeds to sprout or grow.
Soaking the seeds in water helps in softening the seed coat. . However some seeds like avocado seeds do not require to be soaked in water.
Seeds can also sprout in a sponge. This may seem strange but it is very possible and people are doing it. In order to achieve your desired results, you should use a clean and dry sponge. Run it in water and allow it to soak the water but ensure that it is not dripping.
You can now place the sponge on a clean dish and then put the seeds. Check it frequently for sprouting. In case you have a lot of seeds, you can use a paper towel. This method is more convenient since it doesn’t require sunlight.
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3. Germinating Seeds in Cartons
Cartons are an excellent alternative because you do not need to throw them when it is time to move the seeds to containers or pots.
In case you do not have muffin trays, egg trays will be an excellent alternative. You only need to fill them with soil then spray some water.
You can also use eggshells whereby you just cut them into two. After this, fill them with soil then add some water. You can now place them on the egg trays. Toilet paper rolls can also be a great alternative if you don’t have egg trays.
4. Germinating Seeds Without Water
We all know that seeds require water to germinate. However, you can use the self-watering process if you don’t have time to water them. You will need to cut a plastic soda bottle about 2/3 and 1/3 .
Fill the 2/3 bottle with soil then add the seedlings. Put water in the other remaining part and then place it in the other container with soil. You need to keep checking to ensure that the bottle has water.
5. Germinating Seeds in Vegetables or Fruits
This is another convenient and eco-friendly method of growing seeds. Pumpkins and citrus fruits are perfect seed starters you can use. You just need to cut the top of the pumpkin and then clean the area.
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After this add some soil or compost then bury the seeds.
Don’t forget to add water. Make sure that the pumpkin is not rotten. You can also use citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons in case you don’t have a pumpkin.
Just cut them into two, place the seeds and then add some soil and water.
3 Stages of Seed Germination
In order for seeds to germinate, they will require soil, water, and sun. You also need to regulate the amount of temperature in the room to ensure that they do not get too cold or too hot. Below are the 3 important stages of seed germination.
1. Preparation Stage
You need to ensure that you have quality seeds that are not more than 2 years old. You also need to ensure that they can grow in your region. It is therefore important you plant seeds from local plants.
You can easily get them from a local nursery or from an online dealer who sells seeds for different regions. Some of the seeds may require some time to get started.
Check this information from the packet and ensure that they are started at the right time.
In case you are not sure about this, you can start by growing them indoors and then transfer them after they have sprouted a few inches high.
Another important thing you need to do is to choose the correct growing medium. Different seeds require a specific soil texture to thrive. Therefore, you need to confirm that the growing medium you are using is the most suitable for the type of seeds you are planning to grow.
After you have chosen an ideal medium, you should look for a seed container. The best ones are those that are 2-3 inches deep. Make sure that you have some draining holes at the base.
The width may vary according to the number of seeds you want to plant. Once the seed starts to sprout, you will need to transfer them outside or to a bigger container.
2. Planting the Seeds
Now you have your seeds, growing medium, and the seed container. Fill the seed container with about ½ inch of the rim and then sprinkle some water on the growing medium.
Don’t sprinkle a lot of water. Some seeds may require being soaked for hours while others can be placed directly on the growing medium. You should check the packet to see if they require you to undergo some procedures before planting.
When soaking seeds, you should place them in a container full of water and then cover them. Allow them to remain in the container for 3-24 hours.
After that, strain them or wipe them with a dry towel.
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Scatter the seeds on the growing medium evenly as you press them slightly using your fingers. Cover them using a layer of the growing medium and then sprinkle some water. Put the containers in the right environment that favors their growth. The room temperatures should be 65-75⁰F.
The growing medium should always be moist. You can cover the containers with a thin layer of plastic to regulate the temperatures and also to retain moisture. Water the seeds every day and never allow the growing medium to dry out.
However, you should not add too much water.
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3. Post Germination Caring
- Place the seedlings near a light source immediately and they start to sprout. The room temperatures should be at least 70 degrees.
- Make sure that they are always moist. You should always check them in the morning and in the evening. However, don’t allow water to sit on the growing medium for long as this can cause mold to grow.
- Since your medium does not have any nutrients, you need to supply the seed with nutrients. Choose a suitable fertilizer with proper nutrients. Organic fertilizers are the best.
- Remove weaker seedlings so that the strongest can do even better. You should have 2-3 sprouts per container.
- Move the seedlings to bigger containers or an outdoor garden when it is time to do so. You should plant them in an area with the correct type of soil, enough sunlight, and where there is water.
How Often Should You Water Seeds While Germinating?
Your seeds will definitely need water to germinate. Therefore, you should keep the growing medium or soil moist at all times. Try to water them at least once per day. You should never allow the soil to dry, especially during the warm climate.
You may also need to water them more than once per day depending on the type of soil or the garden set up.
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The soil should be moist but not wet as too much water may lead to the growth of mold. Again, don’t allow the seeds to sit on too much water.
How Do You Keep Germinating Seeds Warm?
Apart from water, your seeds will need light temperatures in order to grow. The temperature may vary according to the type of seedlings you have. You need to ensure that the room is warm.
Temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit are the best. When they start to germinate, the optimum temperature for them should be about 10 F cooler than the recommended temperatures for germination.
Note that most seedlings will freeze at temperatures of 28⁰F once they are left for about 5 hours.
How Do You Plant Seeds After Germinating?
Before you think of planting the seeds after germination, you need to ensure that it is the best time to transplant them. Here are some things you should take into account.
- If they have 1-2 true leaves
- When the cotyledon turns yellow or when they start to fall off
- Once the true leaves start to turn yellow
- If you realize that they are crowded
The major reason why you should transplant them is that you will end up with healthier plants than when you would have grown them in one place from the start.
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The process of transplanting seeds is very easy. You will need a bigger container than the initial one. Fill these containers with soil and then wet the soil mixture. You can now nest your seedlings in the new container.
If you are transplanting them in a garden, in my opinion, you can use a rake to level the surface. After this, dig a planting hole and ensure that it is bigger than the root ball of your plants.
Turn the container with the sprouting seedlings upside down as you support the soil with the other hand.
Put the seedling in the hole at the same depth as it was in the container. Cover it with soil and then add some water immediately to soak the roots.
When to Start Germinating Seeds?
You should start germinating the seedlings immediately when they start to sprout. Start by preparing where you want to grow them.
In case you want to grow them outdoors, you should prepare the planting nursery by removing rocks, weeds, plant debris, roots, and other unwanted things. Add about a 3-inches layer of compost on top of the soil.
Afterward, use a rake to level the area. Allow the nursery bed to settle for at least one day before planting. When planting, be sure to follow the instructions provided on the package.
You should also space them correctly to avoid overcrowding. After this, water the soil using a gentle shower or a water nozzle. The surface should always be moist.
BONUS: What Temperature is the Most Ideal for Germinating Seeds?
The room temperatures may affect the seed germination process. I think this depends on the type of seeds you are growing. In most cases, the seeds will do well in warm temperatures which means that they will develop faster.
On the other hand, low temperatures may lead to a delayed growth rate. This is because warm temperatures enhance the chemical reactions while low temperatures affect them.
These chemical reactions enable the seed to break down the seed coat. However, you need to ensure that the soil temperature is between 65⁰F-80⁰F if you want your seeds to do well. The seeds will take longer to germinate if the soil temperatures are too high or too low.
Therefore, you need to ensure that the soil or growing medium where you want the seed to grow has attained the correct temperatures.
It is important you invest in a quality soil thermometer such as the REOTEMP K83B1 Soil & Compost Thermometer so that you can always be sure if the soil has the right temperatures.
Why Do Germinating Seeds Respire Differently?
Germinating seeds need to respire in order to get the required energy for their development and growth.
I think that the energy they produce is what they use during their dormancy stage before they develop other parts such as the toots and the leaves. However, most seeds respire at a lower rate during their dormancy stage.
During respiration, they take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Some seeds may have more active enzymes which may cause them to respire faster than others.
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Frequently Asked Questions
When to Start Germinating Seeds for Spring?
If you are planning to start germinating seeds for spring, you need to check the instructions provided in the packet. Some seedlings can be planted directly into the garden during spring while others need to be started. If you start them too early, they may grow weak and this means that they will be more prone to diseases.
Starting the plants indoors is a great way of hardening them since you will be able to control the temperatures and moisture they need to grow.
You can also calculate the starting time of the seeds by taking the last date of the frost and then subtract the remaining days until you transplant. Most people prefer to start the seeds from late March to late May.
Why Do Germinating Seeds Undergo Cell Respiration?
Germinating seeds require to undergo cellular respiration so that they can get the energy they require to grow. Since they cannot go through photosynthesis like mature plants, they need to produce their own energy. This process produces ATP molecules which supply the seeds with the energy they need for development and growth.
Why Aren’t My Seedlings Germinating?
Your seeds may fail to germinate if they are eaten by birds, mice, wireworms, or voles. You should keep checking them to ensure that they are still in the soil. They may also fail to germinate if the right conditions are not meant. They need water, the right temperatures, and a good growing medium. Again, you should not plant them too deep in the soil or add more water than required.
How to Prevent Mold from Germinating Seeds?
The easiest way you can prevent the growth of mold is by increasing the airflow and light around them. You can install a fan and turn it on for a few hours around the seeds. In case you have covered them, you should try to uncover them frequently to ensure that air is circulating. Again, too much water may encourage mold growth.
What Process Do Germinating Seeds Get Their Energy from?
Seeds require oxygen to produce the energy they need to germinate and grow. They normally get oxygen when they respire whereby they release carbon dioxide and take in oxygen. The seed embryo may also acquire energy by breaking its food stores through a process known as aerobic or cellular respiration. This process produces ATP molecules which provide energy to the seed.
How Long After Seeds Start Germinating Should I Place Them in the Soil?
In most cases, seeds start to germinate after 1-2 weeks depending on the type. This also depends on the room temperatures. They normally do well in warmer temperatures of 64-75⁰F. Some may take even 3 weeks to germinate. You should only plant them in the soil if you see the first 1-2 true leaves or when their embryo falls off. At this stage, the roots are already developed.
What Pots Should I Use When Germinating Flower Seeds?
If you want to get the best results when germinating flower seeds, you should use plastic containers instead of clay pots. The good thing about plastic containers is that they have better moisture retention than pots. Make sure that the ones you have chosen are wide and shallow to create space for the seedlings.
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From my experience it follows, if you have been struggling to achieve great results when germinating seeds, we hope that now you know where you were going wrong. You should now consider and apply the knowledge you have acquired from this guide in your next project.
Remember that different seeds may require different growing conditions such as temperature and growing medium.
Therefore, you need to read the instruction in the packet and then compare with what we have shared in this guide. You can also try other germination methods we have outlined since they are very easy to follow.