9 Tips for Better Seed Germination Rates This Season

Simple changes can improve your seed-starting technique if you're tired of no-germ seeds. Many gardeners avoid common seed starting blunders by planning ahead.

Container seeds can withstand wind and snow. Growing seeds need as much as babies. Without roots to scavenge soil for water, they need continual wetness.

1. Avoid Soil Dryness

All plants need light once they reach the surface, even though they germinate in dark soil. Without enough sunlight or artificial light, seedlings fail.

2. Provide Enough Light

The most underrated seed-starting equipment is the soil thermometer. Air temperature affects germination less than soil. Subsurface influences affect seed germination speed.

3. Use a Soil Thermometer

This cheat sheet uses reliable University of California research. Your seeds may germinate at greater or lower temperatures, but the ideal range yields the most consistent results.

4. Soil Temperature Cheat Sheet 

A heating mat is the cheapest and easiest way to increase tomato, pepper, cucumber, and squash germination without a greenhouse.

5. Use a Heating Mat

Seeds need depth to germinate, like newborns need cradling and blankets. Do not overbury seeds. Deeply planted seedlings may lack energy to seek light.

6. Sow at the Proper Depth

Soil drainage preserves seeds for germination. Water flows faster in seedling trays. More oxygen between particles helps seeds breathe in well-drained soil.

7. Use a Well-drained Soil Mix

Dormant seeds last decades, but they're unusual! Most seeds lose germinating ability with age. Young vegetable seeds germinate quickly and uniformly.

8. Don’t Plant Old Seed

Garden conditions are difficult to manage amid weather fluctuations with direct seeding. Agricultural row cover lets light and water pass through, making seeds more comfortable.

9. Use Row Cover

Also See

11 Easiest Tomatoes to Grow From Seed