What To Do If Your Seeds Won't Germinate

Garden Betty

Some seeds are easy enough to start. Just add water, maybe a little heat, and their cute little cotyledons emerge in a matter of days.

But other seeds like to take their sweet time germinating, sometimes taking months to break out of their shell… if they germinate at all.

If you’re dealing with notoriously hard-to-start seeds, try these five tips to improve your germination rates, speed up germination, and help them get growing.

Tip #1: Start seeds in paper towels.

The paper towel method (also known as the baggie method) is also helpful for germinating seeds that require constant heat and moisture, such as hot peppers.

Tip #2: Expose seeds to light.

While our first instinct is to bury seeds in soil to get them to sprout, certain seeds actually need light to germinate.

Tip #3: Plant seeds at the proper depth.

The general rule of thumb is to plant a seed at a depth of two times the width (or diameter) of the seed.

Tip #4: Soak your seeds.

The soak (sometimes called a presoak) will start to break down the seed coat and encourage the radicle to emerge.

Tip #5: Scarification.

To do so, gently scrape off a tiny part of the seed coat with a razor blade or nail clippers, or lightly rub it with a nail file or sandpaper.

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Garden Betty