Gardening Tips

How to germinate a seed

How to germinate a seed

Seed germination is one of those processes that remains a small wonder of nature no matter how many times we witness it. It is something very simple, but which in turn depends on several factors and, therefore, can be affected in many ways.

if you want to learn how to germinate a seed at home, whether tomato, lentil, broad bean, etc., and achieve it as quickly and effectively as possible, keep reading us in this practical and interesting article from EcologíaVerde.

What is needed to germinate a seed

Before going on to talk about how to germinate seeds at home, it should be clarified that there are a few general conditions to take into account for the seeds to germinate. That is what you need to germinate a seed:


Some seeds can be planted at practically any time of the year, especially if we do it indoors, but others, on the other hand, cannot be planted at any time. Pay attention to the species of plant you are going to grow and its optimal planting time. Look for information on the Internet, books or ask directly the professional of the place where you buy the seeds and the materials to work with the plants.

This is especially important for outdoor plants or areas exposed to the local climate: you don’t want your seeds to not germinate, or worse yet, to do so and die soon after due to excessive cold or heat.


The vast majority of seeds can be germinated without problems with a small seedbed or even a simple jar. However, there are seeds that produce a kind of gel or mucus when they germinate: they are called mucilaginous. This mucilage retains a lot of moisture and, if the seed is not properly aerated, it will cause it to rot. Some examples of mucilaginous seeds are basil, mustard, arugula and chia.

To germinate this type of seeds we will need germinators, which we can make ourselves or acquire. Here you can learn more about How to create a germinator.

Container or substrate

Germinating seeds in a germinator or pot, as well as in a seedbed, is very simple. But in these last cases, the substrate mixture that we use will be vital. Again, it depends on the type of seed, but we can recommend a mix that will work great in the vast majority of cases.

To prepare it, mix a part of coconut fiber, another part of earthworm humus and a last part of peat. Mix them until you get a homogeneous substrate, which will be light and very rich in nutrients. Then spread some vermiculite and perlite to finish optimizing its properties.

If you are going to germinate the seeds in a jar, choose a glass jar of a suitable size that allows you to see the state of the seeds, as in the image below.

Irrigation and humidity

Seeds usually need abundant moisture to germinate. However, an excess of this will be as fatal as drought, since the seeds can rot or be attacked by fungi. It is necessary that you control the humidity levels in your seedbeds, jars or pots and that you do not let them become waterlogged.

How to germinate a seed - What is needed to germinate a seed

How to germinate a seed in a napkin

This is one of the easiest methods to germinate seeds, but it is no less effective for that. follow these steps to germinate seeds with a napkin:


  • A jar or container.
  • Absorbent napkins.

Steps to germinate seeds on a napkin

  1. Prepare the container with the napkins at the bottom of it, forming a double layer, and spread the seeds on them.
  2. Prepare another napkin, moisten it, and put it on the seeds covering them, then roll the seeds in the napkins forming a cylinder.
  3. Place the container in a dark room with a temperature of around 20ºC. Close it partially but not completely so that the air can circulate a little.
  4. Check the condition of the seeds often, moisten the napkins again when they dry and remove the seeds that are germinating to take them to their location in the ground or pot.
How to germinate a seed - How to germinate a seed on a napkin

How to germinate a seed in cotton

This process is very similar to the previous one, but we will use cotton instead of absorbent paper or napkins. follow these instructions to germinate a seed with cotton:


  • A container, if possible wide, such as a tupperware or a large yogurt container.
  • Clean cotton.

Steps to germinate seeds in cotton

  1. Start by flattening the cotton pieces into roughly sheet shapes and cover the bottom of the container with it, then moistening the cotton with a water spray. It is important that it is very moist, but never waterlogged. Drain any excess water from the bottom of the container.
  2. Place the seeds on the cotton, pressing a little with your fingers so that they settle and “bury” a little in it. Cover them later with another piece of moistened cotton.
  3. Then cover the container so that the moisture does not evaporate too quickly, and take it to a bright place, but where the light does not fall directly on the seeds, at about 20ºC.
  4. Every 48 hours, open the lid and remove the top pieces of cotton to check the seeds for aeration for about five minutes. Cover them again later, moisten again if necessary and remove the sprouts that can be planted.
How to germinate a seed - How to germinate a seed in cotton

How long does it take for a seed to germinate?

The time it takes for a seed to germinate depends both on the species of the plant and on specific conditions such as climate or humidity. Some seeds germinate in just 24 hourswhile others may need up to 15 days or more to do it.

Check the usual germination times of the plant species in question to find out how its germination process is going and see if yours is going well or if you need to change some aspects of humidity, light and temperature.

How to make seeds grow faster

The methods explained above with cotton and napkins help greatly accelerate seed germinationallowing them to be planted later in their final location knowing that the sprouts will develop well.

Also, there are other things you can do, like use fast germinating seeds for kids. These are ideal for the little ones to learn more about plants and start to like gardening. Some species of these seeds are those of lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower, with a really accelerated germination. There are also dandelions and daisies, smaller and very showy when they grow, or beans and tomatoes.

To learn more about seed germination, we advise you to read these other Ecologíaverde articles on:

  • How to germinate lemon seeds and their care.
  • How to germinate grape seeds and their care.
  • How to germinate apple seeds and their care.
  • How to germinate peach seeds and their care.

If you want to read more articles similar to How to germinate a seedwe recommend that you enter our category .

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