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seed germination techniques

How do I germinate seeds?

  There are different methods that prove successful:

Seeds can be placed between folded, wet paper towels that are kept moist and warm in an area between 70-85 degrees, such as on the top of the refrigerator. After a period of 48 hours to 2 weeks, the vast majority of viable seeds will crack open with a white root tip emerging. At this point, the seed is gently placed in the growing medium approximately 1/2 inch deep with the root tip pointed downward.

Seeds can also be placed directly into the grow medium with the pointed end facing downwards to germinate without the transplanting step. The medium is kept uniformly moist until the young seedling emerges on the surface.

It is not necessary to provide light before the seedlings break the surface, but it is beneficial to have strong light present from that moment forward to prevent excessive stem elongation.

Fluorescent lighting is satisfactory with cool white or higher color temperature tubes being preferable. Metal halide lighting is beneficial, if heat and moisture are monitored.

*Seeds prefer high light conditions once they have become rooted. They will stretch under most floroescents.

How can I increase the germination rates of my seeds?
Contributed by: Lord Of The Strains
Submitted: March 30, 2004

Pre-soaking your seeds before planting them is a terrific way to ensure a greater germination percentage and faster germination rates. There are a few different methods of soaking seeds; the two most popular being the “Paper-Towel Method” and “Standard” (soaking in a cup or similar object), both of which yield similar results if done correctly (taproot emerges in approx. 24 hrs.)

NOTE: Regardless of which method you employ, seeds should be soaked in a dark, warm environment for the best results. Once the taproot (tiny, white root-tip) emerges from the seeds, they are ready to be planted into the growing-medium.

1. Paper-Towel Method:

MATERIALS: Paper-towels (at least 2 sheets), 2 plates/dishes (or similar object), warm water.

PROCEDURE:

It involves placing the seed(s) onto a damp paper-towel (which is placed on a plate/dish, or similar object), and covering them with another damp paper-towel.
For best results, use water that is a bit warmer than room-temperature (to compensate for any drop in temperature), and cover the plate/dish with another plate/dish (to prevent heat from escaping, as well as protect the seeds from light).

Also, using more than one sheet of paper-towel above and below the seed(s) will yield better results, as well as adding more warm water to the paper-toweling/bottom dish before covering the whole arrangement with the optional second plate/dish.

WARNING: It is imperative that the seed(s) are removed from the paper-toweling as soon as the taproot(s) has/have emerged; If the seed(s) is/are left to soak for too long, delicate micro-roots can be torn when the seed(s) is/are removed from the paper-toweling, which will temporarily retard germination/growth as well as stress the plant (which could possibly result in an unfavorable male/hermaphrodite).

2. Standard Soaking

MATERIALS: Cup/mug (one that retains heat well; i.e. ceramic coffee cup), plate/dish/lid (big enough to cover cup/mug/etc.), warm water.

PROCEDURE:
In this method, the grower places his/her seed(s) in a cup/mug of some sort, which is filled with warm water. I use a ceramic coffee cup - as it is a good conductor of heat - and I cover it with a ceramic plate (again, to prevent heat from escaping, as well as shield seeds from light).

For best results, use water that is a bit warmer than room temperature (again, to compensate for any drop in temperature). It is normal for the seed(s) to float on the surface; just let it/them soak for a while then give it/them a little tap to make it/they sink (the best, most viable seeds will sink to the bottom). Although it is virtually impossible to over-soak seeds using this method, seeds should only be soaked until the taproot has emerged.

CONCLUSION:
Both of these methods are equally effective if executed correctly. Most seeds should show their taproots within 24 hrs., and all seeds should show taproots within 48 hrs. (assuming you are using good, viable seeds).

TIP: (for soil-growers)
If you want to further increase your germination rates, simply plant your seed(s) shallow; approx. 1-2 cm. deep. The seedling(s) should break the soil-surface within 24 hrs., or 48 hrs. for the most (again, assuming you are using good viable seeds – otherwise, it may take another day or two). Once the seedling(s) has/have sprouted, add a little extra soil at the base of the stem(s) for additional support and root-protection.