How to germinate seeds

Updated February 21, 2017

The first key to growing plants is get them to germinate from seeds. While most seeds are not difficult to germinate, proper technique and planning can make you more successful and efficient at germination. Follow these steps to germinate seeds.

Choose fresh seeds to start with. The germination rate of seeds declines with time. Seeds stored over winter from the previous season may not germinate at all. If you have to store seeds for any period of time, store them in a glass jar in a cool, dry environment or in a refrigerator.

Plant in an ideal growing medium. Choose a loose, aerated soil high in peat moss to germinate your seeds in. Keep from packing down the potting mix--it should be light and fluffy.

Provide proper water. After you have planted the seeds at the proper depth according to the seed packaging, water the seeds from below using a tray. Dump out the excess water when the potting mix has soaked up the water. Keep the potting mix from completely drying out and water only when the top of the potting mix has begun to dry.

Ensure the seeds have heat. Seeds need heat in order to come out of dormancy and germinate. Place them in a warm area or provide extra heat by shining an incandescent light at them.

Identify the seeds. Seeds will not look like a mature plant for several weeks after germination. Label the pots so you can identify the plants immediately.

Cover the seeds with clear plastic. Clear plastic seals in the moisture and humidity, which is crucial in getting seeds to germinate.


An easy way to provide the proper potting mix is to use peat pellets which expand when water is applied to them. They are available at garden centers. Always plant more seeds than you need plants. No matter how successful you are at germination, some seeds will not germinate.


Avoid overwatering the potting mix. Too much water will rot the seeds.

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