Have you ever planted seeds and waited for what seems like eternity, only to have nothing sprout at all? There's a secret to germinating seeds, and it involves soaking them. All you need to soak seeds is a bowl of water.
You can soak any type of seed, but if you really want to expedite germination, stick with larger seeds. Large seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peas, beans, cucumbers, and squash, germinate quickly when they're exposed to moisture. Smaller seeds, such as celery and lettuce seeds, do not seem to require as much moisture to aid in germination.
In other words, you can soak small seeds, but there may not be a real benefit in the long run. It's also worth noting that tiny wet seeds are a little more challenging to handle!
1. Moisture sends seeds a message
Soak seeds in a bowl of warm water overnight. Many sources advise people to soak seeds for 24 hours prior to planting. The moisture will send the seed a message that it's time for germination.
2. Remove inhibitors
Soak your seeds to remove inhibitors that prevent germination. Soaking a seed will wash away any inhibitory chemicals that exist on the seed coat. The goal is to encourage germination and avoid dormancy.
3. Soften the shell
Water softens the shell of the seed. It's a lot easier for a sprout to bust through a soft shell than a hard one. Soft shells speed up the process of germination.
4. Wake them up
A seed is dormant. Water is the catalyst (think of rain in the Spring) that tells the seed it's time to wake up! Soaking a seed in water is called seed priming. Priming a seed with water is a dormancy-breaking treatment.
5. Expedite germination when starting late
Rather than wait for seeds to germinate on their own time, soak them to encourage quick germination. There's only so much time to get plants in the ground. A late start in the growing season requires quick action.
6. Watch them swell
When large seeds are in water for 24 hours, they'll swell. When seeds swell, their shells expand. As the shells become soft and expand, this process ends the dormancy period.
7. Too much isn't a good thing
Most experts agree that people can soak some type of seeds up to 48 hours. However, the longer a seed soaks in water, the higher the risk of rot. The general consensus when soaking most types of seeds is a 12 to 24 hour soaking period.