how to sprout seeds in paper towel

Sprout Seeds Overnight. with Scarification!

Introduction: Sprout Seeds Overnight. with Scarification!

How would you like to sprout practically any seed overnight? Of course you would!

I like to mess around with plants, but I have always had a hard time getting seeds to reliably sprout, or germinate.

Yesterday I was poking around the web trying to learn more about how to get seeds to sprout with more success, and I found a reference to something called “seed scarification”. This is a fancy way of describing the method of nicking, sanding, or clipping off part of the seed’s shell so water can get to the inside part to activate germination. You can search YouTube to see a selection of videos on this topic.

The reason that seeds take varying lengths of time to germinate is not because the inside of the seed takes more or less time to activate. It is simply because all seed shells are somewhat water-resistant. The germination time has to do with how long it takes water to penetrate and permeate the seed shell or coating and get to the inside part of the seed. Once the water reaches the inside of most seeds, they all activate and grow immediately at that point.

Yesterday when I found this method, I tried sanding one edge off each of ten pumpkin seeds. The previous two attempts at germinating these same commercial pumpkin seeds resulted in only one sprouted seed from the 20 that I attempted to germinate. But of the 10 pumpkin seeds from the same package that I sanded one edge off and started germinated yesterday, already today 6 of the seeds have sprouted with up to 1/2″ long roots! That is less than 24 hours!

So although this is a very simple Instructable, I hope that it will help a lot of you that like to grow plants from seeds.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1: What You’ll Need.

o Seeds, dried
o Some way to damage the seed shell (I used 220-grit wet-and-dry sandpaper, but you can also use nail clippers or fine metal file, etc.)
o Water
o Paper towel (optional)
o ZipLock sandwitch or snack bag (optional)

Step 2: Now Damage the Seed Shells.

Grab one of the dry seeds and damage the side of the seed shell by sanding through the shell with sandpaper, or by nipping off a tiny piece of the seed shell, or by filing the side of the seed shell.

You don’t want to sand or cut ot file past the seed shell. When you reach the inside part of the seed, you have gone far enough. The idea is to allow water to enter the inside of the seed shell by capillary action to distribute the moisture.

If you sand or cut or file too far into the inside part of the seed itself, you might damage the seed and then it will not germinate.

Trial and error is required until you get the hang of it.

Step 3: Water the Seeds and Germinate Them.

You can do this step a lot of different ways, but the way I like to do it is as follows:

o Moisten a paper towel with water and then ring it out so it is damp but not dripping. It should be fairly dry.

o Arrange the scarified dry seeds on the folded paper towel. I usually do two rows of 5 seeds for a total of 10 seeds.

o Carefully place the paper towel with the seeds on it into a ZipLock sandwich or snack-sized bag. Squeeze all the air out and seal the bag.

o Put the bag with the seeds in it in a warm area. I have a proofing oven for bread that I like to use, which keeps the temperature at about 90 degrees F which seems to be optimal for most seeds.

o With luck, you should see your seeds sprout roots within 24 hours.

I hope this helps you find more success in germinating seeds!

Sprout Seeds Overnight…with Scarification!: How would you like to sprout practically any seed overnight? Of course you would! I like to mess around with plants, but I have always had a hard time getting seeds to reliably sprout, or germinate. Yesterday I was poking around the web trying to…

How to Germinate With Paper Towels

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Home-grown produce has a taste and texture that most mass-produced vegetables just cannot match. Planting your seeds directly into pots or the ground saves you a step, but germinating them indoors helps you make sure that all of the seeds you plant are viable. You can use specialized products such as germinating trays, heat pads and lights, but the simplest way to germinate seeds indoors requires nothing more than some paper towels and plastic zipper bags.

Things You Will Need

Plastic zipper bags

Use a permanent marker to write the type of seed you are germinating on each plastic zipper bag. This is especially helpful if you are germinating a lot of different types of seeds.

Open each plastic zipper bag and flex the opening a few times to loosen it. This will make it easier to slide the paper towels containing the seeds into them.

Dampen a paper towel with clean water. Wring it out carefully so that it is thoroughly moist but not dripping.

Spread the damp paper towel out on a clean, flat surface. Place your seeds on one half of the paper towel, leaving some space between them. Don’t overcrowd the towel.

Fold the empty half of the paper towel over the seeds, being careful not to squash them. Place the folded paper towel into the appropriately labeled plastic zipper bag, and seal the bag. Repeat with your remaining seeds.

Place the zipper bags of seeds in a warm place away from direct sunlight. The top of the refrigerator is usually a safe place for the seeds to rest undisturbed, but any area that is out of direct sunlight and maintains a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit will do.

Check on the seeds every other day. Open the zipper bag to allow fresh air to enter, and check to see if your seeds have sprouted. Times will vary according to the type of seed you are germinating. For example, cucumber, lettuce and turnip seeds will sprout in about three days; onions and peas take six days; asparagus can take as long as 10 days.

Once your seeds have sprouted, plant them in pots or outdoors, discarding any seeds that did not germinate.

Keep tweezers on hand to help you plant the more delicate seedlings. Poke a hole in the soil with your finger and set the seedling gently into it rather than trying to shove the baby plant into the soil.


Do not soak the paper towels, because the combination of too much water, no light and warmth can encourage mold, which can harm your seeds.

How to Germinate With Paper Towels. You’re planning your spring garden, you have several left-over seed packets from previous years and you’re not sure if the seeds are still good. Knowing if the seeds are dead, the percentage of seeds that are still viable and the rate of germination can keep you from wasting your …