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How to Germinate Seeds in Zip-Lock Bags

Updated April 17, 2017

Germination is the process of sprouting a seed into a living, growing seedling. The seeds, when exposed to ample moisture, heat and light, swell and soften before sending out a thin, stringy root. They'll soon pop open and begin growing a tender, young stem and their first set of leaves. You can use a sealed zip-lock bag to germinate most seeds. If your seeds require darkness to germinate, keep the bag in a shoebox or drawer until germination.

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  1. Measure the height and width of a plastic zip-lock bag below the seal. Measure and fold a paper towel to fit inside it, but don't insert the towel into the bag.

  2. Lay a row of seeds on the paper towel. Place a length of string across them. Let the string extend at least ½ inch past both ends of the seed row.

  3. Staple the string to the paper towel at both ends of the row of seeds. Pull the string taut and staple again, if necessary, so that the seeds are trapped under the string.

  4. Dip the paper towel into a bowl of water to saturate the towel. Carefully slip the paper towel into the plastic bag. Seal the bag completely.

  5. Store the plastic bag in a light, warm place until seeds germinate, usually in about a week or two. Remove the seeds to individual peat pots of soilless potting medium after they've grown their first set of leaves.

  6. Tip

    Check you seed packet or seed catalogue to determine whether your seeds need light or dark to germinate. Some seeds only germinate in the dark, while others require light. When removing germinated seedlings to pots, hold the young plants by their leaves. Disturb the new roots as little as possible.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Plastic zip-lock bag
  • Paper towels
  • String
  • Stapler and staples
  • Bowl of water

About the Author

Kate Sheridan is a freelance writer, researcher, blogger, reporter and photographer whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and trade publications for over 35 years. She attended Oakland University and The University of Michigan, beginning her journalism career as an intern at the "Rochester Eccentric." She's received honors from the Michigan Press Association, American Marketing Association and the State of Michigan Department of Commerce.

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