Some people buy new plants, and some choose to start their caring journey with seeds. For those who want to begin the growth of their plants in a controlled environment, the concern of how to germinate seeds quickly is central because some seeds may take days to weeks to sprout. This detailed article provides all the tips, tricks, and experienced gardeners’ advice on fast seed germination to make this endeavor easier.
Why Is It Worth Trying?
One of the main reasons people grow plants from seeds is the huge selection of different plants in seed catalogs. In this way, you can grow any variety of species — even those hard to find in plant shops. In addition, it is much cheaper than buying already-grown plants.
Moreover, in this case, you can follow all the stages of growth of your green friend and enjoy the process of gardening. Beginners should try growing vegetables or flowers; most of them are not difficult to care for. Finally, in the wake of climate change and the problems with global food provision due to military conflicts or natural disasters, the importance of growing food at home rises exponentially, so giving it a try won’t hurt.
What Do You Need
- Potting soil, purchased or homemade
- Seedling trays or pots
- Watering can and sprayer
- Insulation mat (optional)
Ways to Germinate Seeds Faster
There are many ways for faster seed germination, allowing one to choose the one that fits your timeline or resources better.
- Stratification. One of the most common ways to speed up the process of germination is temperature control, where you emulate the conditions in which seeds experience winter with the help of moist cold. You should soak the seeds and put them in a container or a zip bag filled halfway with some seed-starting medium, such as peat moss, and cover them with another inch (2.5 cm) of the same blend. Put the container in a refrigerator and get it out when the seeds show sprouts.
- Scarification. Also called nicking, the process includes scaring the outer coat of each seed to allow moisture to get to its embryo. To scar the seeds, one can use a knife or sandpaper.
- Pre-Soaking. This method could be the fastest way to germinate seeds. Place seeds in a shallow container in warm water and leave them for 16 to 24 hours (smaller for 16, bigger for 24). Remember not to expose seeds to temperatures higher than 80°F (26.6°C) and not to pre-soak seeds for more than 24 hours.
- Epsom Salt. Utilizing this universally useful fertilizer is another doable option for seed germination. Epsom Salt will help the seeds to gain the necessary nutrients, such as magnesium and sulfur. You can add one tablespoon of this fertilizer into each planting hole with the seeds or dissolve it with a gallon of water and water the soil after planting.
- Paper Towel Testing. This method is preferred for older seeds, with which you cannot be 100% sure about fitness to planting. Soak paper towels in water, place them into an air-tight zip bag, and fill the towel's surface with seeds that will germinate inside the container.
- Fast-Growing Seeds. The most obvious and easiest way to germinate seeds fast is to use the ones with such a feature in their nature. The fast-growing seeds include spinach, lettuce, peas, radishes, cornflower, cress, and more.
- Appropriate Seed-Starting Medium. You can try using the correct soil or starting medium for each particular type of plant. Even though they are not 100% foolproof, such mediums are made with the addition of the necessary nutrients for specific plants.
- Heating Mats. Using a heating mat that can keep the seeds in temperatures around 80°F (26.6°C) but not higher is another good way to speed up the process of germination.
- Plant Hormone. A form of fertilizing, plant hormones can help your plants to produce roots faster. However, be attentive when choosing plant hormones because some types are also used to kill weeds, which can harm your seedlings.
What Is the Best Way to Germinate Seeds Quickly?
There are no 100% best ways to germinate seeds quickly because the most preferred method depends on your resources, commitment level, and time at your disposal. However, if the said factors are considered, one should consider paper towel testing and pre-soaking methods the best since they don’t involve much preparation, resources, and risks
How to Germinate Seeds in One Day
How to germinate seeds faster? Use the paper towel testing method:
- Soak a paper towel in water and squeeze the excess moisture out so the towel remains wet.
- Spread seeds on the paper towel.
- Put the towel with seeds inside a plastic container or a bag.
- Place an object in the middle of the container to create an air pocket inside.
- Wait for the seed to sprout.
How to Germinate a Seed in 3 Days?
Some gardeners combine the germination methods to create a 3-day technique.
- Clip each seed at its end (similar to nicking).
- Put the clipped seeds in tap water overnight (similar to pre-soaking).
- Plant the softened seeds in the ground.
- The seeds should sprout after 3 days.
Tips on Planting Germinated Seeds
The sowing of most indoor plants is carried out in the spring. The favorable period for planting is usually indicated on the seed package; in most cases, it varies from March to May.
Choose a suitable pot for growing:
- plastic or polystyrene pots;
- clay pots;
- boxes of different sizes;
- peat cups for seedlings.
If you choose already used containers, they should be washed well with soda solution and soap before planting. This is necessary since tender seedlings can be infected with various fungal diseases and rot.
Any container must have a hole to drain excess moisture and prevent overwatering. Before filling the container with soil, add some drainage at the bottom. It can be made from pebbles, clay shards, expanded clay, polystyrene, or pieces of red brick. Ready-to-use drainage can also be bought in any plant shop.
Choose the soil which corresponds with the preferences of your future plant. You can purchase a fitting planting mix or make it on your own. Universal potting mix fits almost all species, so this is the most convenient option if you do not want to bother.
If the seeds are tiny, they can be mixed with sand and put all over the container. Do not cover small seeds with a lot of soil, but press them into it. If there is a lot of soil above the seeds, it would be difficult for them to germinate. As for bigger seeds, cover them with a thin layer of soil mixture, then press down a little.
Use a watering can or a sprayer to moisture all the surface. After watering, it is recommended to close the pot with a transparent plastic lid or glass to create a greenhouse effect. You need to place this mini-greenhouse in a well-lit, warm place.
To prevent the formation of a large amount of condensation, remove the glass or plastic cover for ventilation every 3-4 days. Germination time differs for all the species: usually, it will take from several days to several weeks. Additional factors affecting the germination time are seed freshness, moisture level, temperature, and timeliness of watering.
When the first sprouts appear, remove the lid and move the container to a well-lit place. However, do not put it under the scorching sun. Choose a place with bright but diffused light.
How to Plant Sprouted Seeds
The process should be made when the first true leaves appear in the seedlings. The whole process must be carried out carefully to avoid damaging the delicate sprouts.
- Remove the plants along with the soil clump and separate their roots carefully.
- Holding the seedlings by their leaves, place each one in the holes in the soil in new pots.
- Lightly press the ground around, covering the roots and water gently.
- As soon as the plant is well-rooted and grows up, after about a year, you can transplant it into a new, more spacious pot.
Finally, remember to fertilize the plants - the first feeding should be made after the second set of true leaves appears. Apply a half-strength liquid fertilizer each week. Do not forget to water your new friends regularly; they will cheer you up with fast growth and delicate beauty.
What Do Seeds Need to Germinate?
For successful germination, seeds need the correct moisture level, enough air, a warm temperature, and plenty of light.
How Long Do Seeds Take To Sprout?
The speed of sprouting depends on the plant. Some seeds need days, some weeks, or even months.
Do Seeds Need Light to Germinate?
Most seeds do not need light to germinate or do not require some special lighting conditions. However, there are species that require abundant light to germinate.
When to Plant Germinated Seeds Into Soil?
Plant germinated seeds as soon as they sprout.
What Is the Fastest Seed to Germinate?
It is believed that the faster seeds to germinate are of the cabbage family, such as broccoli or lettuce.
What Is the Best Temperature for Seed Germination?
The range between 70°F and 80°F (21.1°C-26.6°C) is considered the best germination temperature.