Testing seed germination

Monek Marie
Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

I don't test all my seeds germination rates, but for cranky seeds or older seeds I do. and that is if I have enough extra seeds.

I take 5 seeds, wet a paper towel and lay the towel flat. Half a towel in plenty. Place the seeds on the paper towel and fold over the seeds one time. Place in a bag and put on top of the refrigerator.

The refrigerator gives the seeds a small amount of heat and the moist paper towel and plastic bag keeps them evenly moist. In a few day to a week you should have seed sprouting. Using only 5 seeds you will get a percentage of how they will sprout.

If only three sprout I know my germination rate is only 60 %. I might want to use willow water or a fertilizer to encourage better germination.

If all 5 sprout, I am doing the happy dance!

If your seed germination is lower than you want

you can plant them more heavy to make up for poor germination

use willow water or fertilizer to try to encourage the seeds to grow

get fresher seeds

or throw them in a compost pile on top and figure that any that grow are a bonus. My one neighbor does this with questionable seeds and has the prettiest compost pile in the summer

Depending on the seed I might keep these sample seeds and plant them in soil. Or at least feed them to the chickens


  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    I do the same thing, but put the bag on a window ledge. But I like the tips on willow water, I have not heard that before

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ltwickey Willow water can be used like a store bought rooting hormone. Its cheaper and fresher. I did not notice until I read the back of the rooting hormone thaty is is only fresh a few months after you open it. I figured if it was good enough to hep a plant root it would help seeds sprout and it does seem to help. I have had much better germination rates since I use willow water, particularly with grouchy seeds.