How to Do a Quick Germination Test at Home

Are you using last year’s seeds (or even older) and aren’t sure if they’re still viable? Try this germination test at home to see if they’re worth planting, or if you should be buying new seeds this year.

  1. Use a double thick paper towel.  Moisten with water and fold in half.
  2. Open paper towel and place a minimum of 10 seeds on one side of towel.
  3. Fold paper towel over covering seeds completely.
  4. Place paper towel in plastic bag, or on plate covered with plastic.  It is ok to roll or fold paper towel to fit if necessary.  Do not air seal bag shut as you need some air for healthy germination.
  5. Put bag in a warm spot (for example, on top of your fridge).
  6. Check daily to make sure towel does not dry out.
  7. Most seeds will germinate within 3-10 days.  Some flowers and herbs may take longer and have special germination requirements.  There is a great deal of specific germination info listed online -  do a simple Google search for “germination requirements for ___”
  8. Check seeds every few days, and monitor seed quality and germination rate.  Healthy seeds have uniform germination and will not have any fungal or bacterial growth on outside of seed coat.
  9. If your germination rate is less than 60%, consider buying new seeds or sowing your seeds extra thickly to compensate for the low germination rate.


This entry was posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Commercial Growing, Seed Saving and Production and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to Do a Quick Germination Test at Home

  1. I don’t like drinking hot drinks so I don’t often use hot water.

  2. Soon says:

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  3. Pingback: Advice from the Experts: So many seed catalogs, so little time! « Capital City Farm Co.

  4. CeCe Graham says:

    Wondering what to do with the daffodil bulbs I just found in my garage that are sprouting? Should I plant them, leave them where they are or put them in the fridge until Fall??? Help!

  5. alison says:

    this is really helpful! I will definitely try this method of testing last year’s seeds.

  6. Thanks for sharing this useful tip. Now the task is to go through those old seed packets and “weed out” those that should go to the compost.

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