Top tips for seed germination

Growing from seed is so rewarding but it can sometimes be tricky too – especially when those seeds just don’t seem to want to germinate! Here are our dos and don’ts for getting your seeds sprouting.

  1. Do keep a consistent temperature

Some seeds like a hotter climate than others but one thing they all have in common is they like consistency. Pick a place in your house where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate hugely (near radiators or by a draft is a no-no) and designate that as your growing area. 

If you’re growing something that likes a warmer climate, such as chillies or cucamelon (they perform best at temperatures of 25 degrees and above), you could create a microclimate for them. The easiest way to do this is to use an upturned fruit punnet to mock-up a mini-greenhouse environment. Simply, pop the punnet over the top of your sown seeds and let nature do the rest.

  1. Don’t overwater

As tempting as it may be, try not to overwater seeds – especially in the early days. Until seeds germinate they really don’t need much water and water logging can actually stop them from sprouting. So, until you start to see signs of life don’t overdo it. Use a small jug or indoor watering can to water sparingly.

If you’re not sure how much water is too much and you’re using a Sow Clever seed kit you can usually tell by looking at our compost plugs. If the plugs are pale in colour and dry on the top, then you may want to give them an extra drink. Otherwise, in this case, less is definitely more! 

  1. Do try the paper towel method

If you have any seeds left over from one of our kits, you might want to give the paper towel method a go. Dampen a piece or two of kitchen roll, place your seeds inside and fold over. Now, grab a Tupperware box or similar, put the paper towel in and put it away in a dark drawer until you see roots and shoots appearing.

The Tupperware keeps the temperature warm and consistent, the dark environment mimics the soil and the paper towel provides a light but constant water source. Once your seeds have started to germinate you can transfer them to compost plugs or small pots to carry on growing.

  1. Don’t overcrowd

We’ve all been there - you’re trying to gently pour your seeds out of the packet, your hand slips and rather than one or two seeds landing in your pot, you get a big pile!

It’s certainly not a disaster if this happens but wherever you can try and spread your seeds out across several compost plugs or pots. If your seeds are tiny, there really is no easy way to do this (trust us, we’ve tried!). We’ve had the most success by getting a couple of seeds to stick to our finger and gently shaking them into the plugs - but this is easier said than done!  

For bigger seeds such as squash or courgette, just use one per plug and remember to plant them on their flat edge (instead of the pointed top or bottom end) as this can help with germination too. If you do end up with overcrowding after germination, you can thin them out when they are big enough to do so.

  1. Do be patient

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do try to be patient. If you’re not seeing any signs of life from your seeds in a few days – or even weeks – don’t give up hope. Some seeds can take up to 28 days to germinate. Do all that you can to give them the best start and try to remain optimistic – they might surprise you with a late sprout.

And sometimes after all that, some pesky seeds still won’t germinate. This is rare but not unheard of – mother nature is unpredictable after all! If you’ve bought a Sow Clever kit and there are no shoots appearing after 28 days, please do let us know. We’ll test the seeds to make sure there are no problems with the batch and send you a new pack of seeds to try again.


Good luck and happy growing!

Top tips for seed germination