5 tricks for better seed germination

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:15 pm

With these natural treatment methods, you give plant seeds a jump-start before sowing: for example, for faster germination in the case of hard shells or to strengthen them against pathogens.

5 tricks for better seed germination
Even before you start sowing, you can encourage germination and seedling health

Plant seeds have a natural inhibition to germination – this prevents them from germinating during an unfavorable season, such as after seed maturation in winter or during a long dry spell. A classic example is frost germinators such as columbine, whose seeds must be exposed to cool temperatures and moisture for an extended period of time to germinate at all. Other seeds, on the other hand, have a very hard, impenetrable shell that must first be broken down or cracked open. Just think of cherry pits. However, germination inhibition can also be caused by germination-inhibiting substances – this is the case with tomatoes.

5 tricks for better seed germination

However, there are several methods that can be used to overcome sprout inhibition more quickly. Resourceful gardeners take advantage of them to make stubborn seeds germinate more quickly – presoaking seeds in warm water is a classic example.

  1. heat treatment

Many vegetable seeds (including cucumbers, carrots, peas, beans, celery, and cabbage) are less affected by fungal diseases when they germinate if they first receive a hot water treatment: To do this, soak the seeds in 50 °C water (not hotter!) for 30 minutes. This will give you two positive effects at once: Healthier seedlings and faster germination.

  1. rub with sand

Some seeds have a thin wax layer, such as pansy and violet seeds. This layer is easily removed by rubbing the seeds with sand between your hands or fingers. This makes germination easier.

  1. stratify
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Especially with woody plants, professional gardeners and nurseries reach into their bag of tricks: They make the seeds germinate more quickly and evenly by stratifying. The most common method is cold stratification: the seeds (primarily from hard-shelled seeds, such as apples or wild roses) are mixed with fine screed sand or a sand-peat mixture, watered and stored in boxes. The humidity should remain as constant as possible and the box should ideally be exposed to the weather throughout the winter (but in a place protected from the sun). In between, mix the sand-seed mixture several times.

  1. chamomile tea bath against fungi.

You can reduce the risk of seedlings getting fungal infections even before sowing: Let the seeds soak in a lukewarm chamomile tea for 12 to 24 hours. This also promotes germination – especially for larger seeds.

  1. valerian bath for cold-sensitive seeds.

Valerian has warming properties and also promotes root growth. This makes it an ideal helper for sowing: especially the cold-sensitive seeds of cucumbers or zucchini benefit from a bathing treatment in valerian tea (alternatively, 10 drops of valerian flower extract per liter of boiled water). For cauliflower and broccoli, valerian also favors flower set.

  1. cold seedlings in the refrigerator

Many perennials require a cold period of several weeks to germinate – columbine, cyclamen, for example, are among these cold germinators. You can overcome this natural inhibition to germination by first keeping the seeds sown in trays moist at room temperature for 14 days in the fall and then placing them in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 weeks (0 to 5 °C is ideal). In the spring, the seeds are then sown in the soil.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.