Steps Of Seed Germination

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Our David's Garden Seeds 4.5 inch ruler we had specially made for our customers.Our David's Garden Seeds 4.5 inch ruler we had specially made for our customers.

This page gives written instructions for Steps of Seed Germination.  They have been accumulated over time by David's Garden Seeds.

When starting seeds, the most important thing to remember is not to plant them too deep.  Placing the seeds in 1/4 inch of soil will do.  Larger seeds like beans and squash can be buried at 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch.

The seed is a living embryo that contains enough energy to germinate and break the surface of the soil.  If planted too deep, the seed will run out of energy and die before it breaks the surface.  Once it breaks the surface, it produces the energy it needs through Photosynthesis to keep growing.

It is best to actually measure how deep the hole is with a measuring stick or one of our special measuring ruler.  It is the first of its kind.  You can email us with your address and we will send you several.

Keep the soil moist, but not wet with a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees. Over-watering will drown the seed.  A good rule to follow is the dirt should be moist so it feels like brown sugar up to your first knuckle.  If it feels dry like salt, it is too dry.  If it feels like wet flour then it is too wet.

The best watering for germinating is bottom watering.  Put your starter pots in a tray, fill 3/4 with water and let them soak up the water they need until the seeds germinate.  Watering from the top can dislodge the germinating seeds and kill them.

Seeds should germinate in about 7 to 14, and sometimes even 21 days.  But chili pepper seeds can take as long as 30 days from the day the first seedling comes up.

If starting indoors, seeds need 14 to 16 hours of daylight a day.  A grow light will be needed.  A regular florescent or lamp light will not do the job.  If you are going to start indoors, you will need to make a small investment.  Putting pots on a window sill will not work in most cases. If the seeds do not get enough light, they will grow tall and thin.  Then they will die. 

Also a window will act as a magnifier of the sun.  It can get too hot for seeds to germinate and cook the new seedlings to death.

If using a planter with a cover, do not use a heat pad.  The cover and heat pad combination will create too much heat and humidity.  One or the other is enough.

Keep in mind that most store bought planters have holes pre-drilled from 3/4 to 1 inch deep, which is too deep for many seeds.  You may have to put a bit of filler in them so that the seeds are not buried more then 1/4 inch deep.

I would not use potting soil/garden soil from Home Depot/Walmart/Lowes as these contain more organic material (lighter than soil so cheaper to ship) than they do soil which is OK for mature plants but not seedlings.  Go to a nursery and see what they recommend.  Some nurseries have a germination/garden mix which works really great.

Also, know that in the garden birds, ants and other insects like seeds for dinner.  It is possible to plant them and have them stolen, especially smaller seeds.  Even worms will eat the seeds. 

Do not use any fertilizer until plants are six inches tall.  Then only use half of what is recommended until plants are a foot tall (12 inches).  Use an organic fertilizer.  Most chemically made fertilizers have salt in them.  Too much salt in the soil and the plants' roots will not absorb water like it should which will results in wilted plants.

When transplanting outdoors, plants will need to be hardened off for 7-10 days.  If you take the plants from the controlled environment to outside without hardening off, they could flounder and die, or not grow very well.

Click here for information on how to harden off plants.

More on Steps of Seed Germination

Some additional things that have come to my attention.

Soil temperature plays a great part in germination.  Most seeds will germinate in soil temps of 70 to 75 degrees--a few like it at 80 and some will germinate at temps less than 70 especially if they have been treated with a chemical that aids in germination.

If the treated seeds are organic, they lose their organic certification when they are treated with these chemicals. 

There are some treatments that are organic, though.  You will have to do some research to find out what these are since their are many of them.  These treatments come in blue, green, red, yellow and orange from what I have seen so far.

Nicking seeds is the process of opening the seed coat prior to planting them. This process makes it easier for water to penetrate the seed coat and reach the seed inside its protective cover.

Soaking can help. Many hard-shelled seeds, such as nasturtium, sweet pea and morning glory, germinate better if they are pre-soaked. By placing the seeds in a bowl and covering them with warm water to soak overnight, you can help the hard shell soften so the seedling can emerge.

Now I have tried soaking pepper seeds mixed with fish fertilizer.  The article said it would help.  I tried with the fertilizer and without.  I let them soak overnight and several nights.  There was no difference between the soaked ones and the non-soaked ones when I planted them.

Keep in mind that gardening is not an exact science.  You may need to try several things before reaching your own conclusions about what works and what does not work.

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Here at David’s Garden Seeds®, gardening is our passion. We provide top quality, non-GMO seeds so families can learn about gardening and love it.  In turn, we hope they will pass this passion down to their children and grandchildren, teaching them to grow  delicious food, fresh herbs and beautiful flowers.

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