Seed Germination Tests
If you save seeds to grow next year, it is important to know, that they will
sprout in the spring when you want them to. Whether it is seed you saved,
or those received from a gardening friend, make sure to do a germination
test sometime before spring planting time. If they are not going to sprout,
or if the germination rate is low, it's best to know now.
Performing a seed germination test is easy. It is a fun activity to do in
the middle of winter. If done in January or February, it offers a gardening
activity to help make the winter go by just a little bit quicker.
We've got two methods for you to try. Both are simple and easy. Are you ready?
Good, read on....
Sprouting in a Baggie
Moisten a paper towel.
Drain off excess water.
Place a few seeds on the wet towel. Make sure to record how many seeds you
Fold towel in half over seeds.
Press, but don't squeeze the paper towel, so it is firmly in contact with
Place the paper towel and seeds in a baggie and seal it.
Place the baggie in a warm place.
After several days, check to see if they have sprouted.
Count the seedlings that sprouted and calculate the percentage that sprouted
out of the total tested. This is the expected germination rate.
The Old Fashioned Way
Plant some seed in a pot. Make sure to record how many you are testing.
Add water to moisten the soil.
Place pots in a warm location in your house or on germination mats.
After they sprout, count the seeds that sprouted and calculate the percentage
that sprouted of the total.
Note: You will find the baggie method is the easiest by far, and my
personal choice for seed tests. But, the old fashioned way is definitely
the most rewarding. And, if tested in pots, you may try to grow the plants
indoors for a while, or all winter!
Seed Germination Rates
Germination rates are simply the percentage of seedlings that sprout. If
you test ten seeds and nine seedlings sprout, the germination rate is 90%.
You can still plant seed with a low germination test. To get the number of
plants you want to grow, you will need to plant more seeds, accounting for
the percentage that will likely not sprout.
For example, if you want to have 10 plants, and the germination rate is a
Calculation: Number of plants desired divided by the germination rate
equals the number of seeds to plant
10 / .7 = 14.28 Therefore, plant 15 seeds.
How many Seeds to Test
Ideally, you should test 10 to 20 seeds of each kind that your save. If
you have a lot of seeds, test more. If your supply is limited, test as few
Tip: If you only have a one or two prized seeds, it is no practical
to test any of them.