Determining Germination Rate

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on February 7, 2011

Eying those seeds left over from last year and wondering if they will work?  While seed germination rate goes down the longer they have been alive, you can do a simple test to see if the left over seeds will grow.  It would not be accurate enough for a seed merchant, but it is fine for home use.

Take ten of the seeds and place them in a damp paper towel.  Fold the paper towel over and place it in a zipper closure bag.  Seal the bag.  Wait a few days, then look at the paper tower full of seeds.  Count the number of seeds that show a baby plant.  Multiply by ten and you have germination rate.

A few caveats.  Seed merchants strive for 90-95% germination rate, depending on the plant.  Some plants take longer than a few days to germinate.  The germination time is usually written on the package beside the length to harvest time.  Just wait the required time plus a day or two for them and check as described.

Depending on your results, you can decide whether the seeds will grow a plant often enough to warrant planting or replacing.  Sometimes simply placing two seeds in a peat pot will make sure at least one seed sprouts.  If both seeds sprout, pinch off the weaker of the two and plant as normal.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Brikiatis February 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

One option, if you are concerned about seed germnination, is to pre-sprout larger seeds before you put them in the seed starter. This only works for larger seeds because smaller seeds are too hard to handle. Pre-sprouting also has the benefit of sometimes speeding up germination. You can pre-sprout seeds using a damp towel in the same way you tested the germination rate.
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SeoDezin February 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Good knowledge about the germination of the seed. We normally do not know the anatomy of the germination of the field. It is complete science.


Basam February 15, 2011 at 12:29 am

You have introduced a good formula of seed germination. This is basic step in plantation that is normally ignored.


venetian blinds June 11, 2012 at 3:27 am

depends on the seed. some seeds require absoulte dry conditions or ever have the need to be scorched by fire to germinate.


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