Simple Seed Germination Test
Depending on the type of seed and as long as
your seeds are
properly stored, they can remain
It is important to know that the seeds you
are about to sow are healthy and
Purchasing fresh seed from a reputable seed company, like the Victory Seed
Company is one way.
However, if you have old seeds or are
curious about the quality of seeds that you grew and saved, taking the
time to do a simple germination test may be time well spent.
For each test, you will need:
Moisten a paper towel. The goal is to
reach its saturation point. Wet but not dripping. Using a
misting spray bottle is useful.
Choose a sampling of seeds representative to
the whole lot you are testing. That is, do not select all the best
looking seeds or your results will be skewed. Additionally, the more
seeds that you can spare to do the test, the more accurate your result
average will be. Ten seeds should be considered an absolute minimum.
Although not absolutely necessary, rinsing
the seeds in a bleach solution (1 part beach to 10 parts water) will help
prevent fungal and/or bacterial growth during your test.
Place seeds to be tested on one half of the
damp paper towel and fold the other half over the seeds.
Place the towel with the seeds into a
plastic bag and partially close the bag. Using the marking pen,
write the variety name of the seed, the date you are starting and the
number of seeds onto the bag. Also write this information into your
Keep the bag in a warn, dark place. A
kitchen cupboard on an inside wall is a good place.
On a daily basis, remove the towel and check
on the results. Keep it evenly moist and note seed progress.
Seed germination times vary by type.
Click here for some
After several days, your seeds should begin
germinating. If a seed molds or looks rotten, count it as dead and
discard it. If it looks like it is growing into a plant, count it as
good and discard it. In your notebook, keep a running count of the
good and bad seeds.
Refold the towel, place it back into the bag
and check again. At the end of an acceptable amount of time (10-14
days), or if all of the seeds have germinated, count the total number of
good seeds. If all of the seeds germinated, then you have a perfect
germination rate - 100%. If it was less that perfect then divide the
number of seeds that germinated by the number you started with and you
will determine the % germination rate. For example, it you started
with ten seeds and only nine germinated, then 9/10 = 0.9 or 90%.
If the germination rate is low but still
vigorous, you can still go ahead and plant it. It just means that
you need to sow extra seeds to get a good stand. For example, if the
germination rate is 50%, sow twice as much seed. However, if the
seeds are slow to germinate on top of a low germination rate, it is
probably best to purchase fresh seed.
One note from personal experience, you do
not have to throw away your tested seeds. If you are careful not to
damage the sprouted, tiny seedlings, go ahead and plant them.