by Leslie Cox; Wednesday; January 11, 2017


  • seeds (preferably 10 – 20 for representative results, but as few as 5 can suffice)
  • paper towels
  • ziplock bags (alternatively, you can use saucers and clean plastic bags)
  • an indelible pen
  • a container large enough to hold the ziplock bags in an upright position.


  1. Rip off one or two sheets of paper towel from the roll…depending on the size and number of seeds to be germinated.
  2. Write the name of the seed and the date on the upper edge of the towel. Very important, especially if you are testing more than 3 or 4 seed varieties at the same time.
  3. Wet the towels just enough so they are damp, but not soaking.
  4. If you are using saucers and plastic bags…place the damp paper towel on the saucer.
  5. Place the seeds on the damp paper towels, making sure they are not touching one another. In moist, semi-enclosed conditions, the seeds can develop fungal growth. Placed too close to one another, the fungus will spread given you are providing it with its favourite moist environment.
  6. Fold the paper towel over the seeds to cover them and slip the saucer into a plastic bag. Be sure to leave the bag open to allow air in to reduce risk of fungal growth.
  7. If you are not using saucers, roll up the damp paper towel with the seeds inside and place it in the ziplock bag with one end up. Do not close the bag.
  8. Stand the ziplock bags upright in the container.
  9. Place saucers or container in a warm place…on top of the fridge or the water heater.
  10. Start checking your seeds for signs of germinating after 2 days.
  11. Spritz the paper towels with water if they are starting to dry out.

Once you have determined as many seeds have sprouted as are going to…(I usually allow 10 – 14 days, but sometimes up to 21 days depending on the age of the seeds and variety)…count how many have germinated and divide that number by how many seeds you started with. Multiply the resulting number by 100 to get your germination percentage rate.

If you are a lab tech like me, you might find it helpful to make up a recording chart in Excel, or other similar spreadsheet program. I find these record sheets of seed test results to be useful for information purposes down the road.