Every year during the planting season, you might find yourself rushing to get these seeds going. There are many reasons behind it, but mostly it’s because you are a little bit late in planting your favorite plants, or you just simply don’t want to wait until the seeds germinate.
No matter the cause of your rush, the good news is that you can speed up this process! Just go ahead and check these 12 ways to germinate and sprout seeds faster!
One of the best ways to accelerate seed germination is using the Epsom salt. It contains magnesium that can help strengthen cell walls, which consequently will boost your seeds’ growth. What’s more, during the germination process, sulfur is lost. When you use Epsom salt, you help replenish its quantity. Simply add one tablespoon to each hole before planting your seeds, or dissolve one tablespoon in every gallon of water and add it to the soil after the planting.
A simple way to help speed up the germination of seeds is through nicking. Use a knife or sandpaper to scar or mar the coating of each seed. It allows moisture to hit the seed’s embryo faster, which helps seeds to germinate more quickly. Plant as usual.
Stratification is a temperature control option for speeding up germination. This technique uses exposure to moist cold to trick seeds into thinking they’re in winter and is ideal for seeds that typically take weeks to germinate.
Soak the seeds, then fill the container halfway with a moist seed-starting media like coconut coir, peat moss, or a seed-starting blend. Place the seeds in the container, then add another inch or so of the medium.
Put the container in a corner of the fridge, where it won’t be disturbed. Keep the temperature in the fridge between 34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the seeds regularly for signs of germination.
Another temperature control method, ideal for warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers, is pre-soaking. Put your seeds in warm water (room temperature, not hot water). Make sure the seeds are never exposed to temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, though closer to 75 is ideal.
Soak smaller seeds in this warm water for eight to 16 hours (overnight is good). Larger seeds should be soaked up to 24 hours but not over that. Tiny seeds, like broccoli seeds, probably won’t benefit as well from pre-soaking and will be much more difficult to gather and plant.
The Right Soil/Starter Medium
The right starter mix for seedlings is another way to speed up seed germination. A commercial mix is usually a blend of components, including sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir, vermiculite, and perlite. You can also make your own for the right blend for your intended plants.
The right mix isn’t a miracle, of course, but it certainly helps those seeds find the nutrition they need faster, keeps the seeds moist but well-drained, and provides them with everything they need to get growing.
Grow Testing on Paper Towels
If you have older seeds (like leftover herb seeds from last year’s garden) or are using seeds from a new-to-you brand, this is an excellent way to start. It will speed up the growth, as well as let you know if there’s any point in placing the seeds into pots.
Soak a paper towel in lukewarm water, then place it in a zipper seal bag or air-tight container. Then, add as many seeds as you can to cover the layer of paper towel. Seal the container and wait.
Because most seeds germinate faster when the soil is between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, using a heat mat can help speed things up. Keep the mat warmed to between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for best results for most seeds. Use a thermometer, though, to check the temperature of the actual soil to make sure it’s warm enough. If not, raise the temperature on the heat mat a little.
Planting Cool Weather Crops Early
If you want to grow some cooler weather crops, you can focus on getting these seeds started sooner than the others. Use one of the starting methods, like stratification, to speed it up by combining these two concepts.
Stratify your seeds, then plant them while it’s still cool. Keep your eye on temperatures, of course, but you should find your seeds pop up even faster and keep producing longer this way.
Using Fast Growing Seeds
This is not technically a way to germinate your seeds faster, but certain plants sprout faster. Cress, for example, can germinate and sprout within 24 hours of planting. There are a host of flowers, vegetables, and even some fruits that pop up quickly and produce within a matter of a few weeks.
Plant hormones are another potential method for speeding up germination. Rooting powder is what you’re looking for. This product helps you grow seeds faster and allows cuttings to produce healthy roots and grow faster.
Make sure the hormones you purchase are for growth, though, as some plant hormones are weed killers.
Pre-Chill the Seeds
Another method with stratification is a “pre-chill” option. Soak a paper towel in cool water and place it in an air-tight container. Lay seeds on the paper towel, then wrap the towel completely around the seeds, encompassing them with moisture. Seal the container and place it in the refrigerator for a week.
Instant Pot Magic
A scientist and amateur gardener came up with the method of germinating seeds in an instant pot and shared lots of helpful hints on how to do this.
In a nutshell, set your Instant Pot to the “yogurt” setting and let it warm up while you get your seeds ready. Moisten several paper towels (they should be moist but not dripping) and wrap them in the paper towels. Put the paper towels into a zipper seal bag and place the bag in the Instant pot.
If your seeds should be grown in cooler temperatures, place the bag on the closed lid of the Instant pot while it’s on the “yogurt” setting and let the lid do the work.
Now You’ve Done It!
Once those seedlings start popping their little heads up, take proper care of them to keep them healthy and happy. For most seedlings, keep them indoors for a bit under grow lights and, if possible, in a warm space that won’t get over about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist and transplant them outdoors or into pots after a few weeks, and soon you’ll have that thriving garden you’re longing for.
Let us know what you think about these methods, and as always, please share!