How To Germinate Seeds – Simple Steps with Great Results!

Seeds to Germinate for growing in a garden


Ever Wondered How To Germinate Seeds?  Here’s The Easy Way!

The key to knowing how to germinate seeds and getting those seeds to sprout is…keeping them warm…around 60 °F (15.5 °C) to 70 °F (21 °C).  Do this and most seeds will begin to develop in a couple of days.  Tomatoes, bell peppers, and a few other plants can take 5 to 10 days.  Cucumbers and Zucchini, to name a few, will sprout much quicker.

If the seeds get a little cooler, the germination process gets longer.  Poor or no germination will happen if the temperature gets below 50 °F (10 °C).

You can buy a seed starter kit and follow the directions.  Or, you can try this:

germinating seeds on a paper towel

Use a discarded wash cloth (You can also use a paper towel.). Soak the cloth with warm water, lay it flat, evenly spread the seeds on one half of it, fold it up several times with the seeds inside, place it on a tray or a plastic sheet, and put it on a heating pad…on the lowest setting.  (We are not roasting them…just keeping them cozy warm.)  Even though the air temperature indoors may be in the recommended range, water evaporation can cool the seeds too much.

The trick is to keep the wash cloth moist but not soaking wet (too much moisture can rot the seedlings).  Lay a plastic sheet on top to help keep the wash clothes moist and warm.

Start checking the seeds regularly (maybe every day or two) and pick out the ones that have at least 1/8” to 1/4″ seedlings for transplanting into starter pots.  Creative folks with a lot of patience may want to try their hand at making their own Homemade Biodegradable Plant Pots.  If the seedlings get too long, they will try to take root in the wash cloth.  It happens to me all the time.

I germinate ~25% more seeds than I need.  When I try germinating some vegetables seeds, such as bell peppers, I may use twice as many seeds as I need since they are much harder to sprout.  Some germinating seeds will just not sprout and, some young plants may not survive the transplanting process.

What do you think about my germination process?  Have you had a chance to look at my information on transplanting seedlings or hardening them off?

Leave a reply in the comments section or throw an email at me:


So, don’t procrastinate…germinate!


Jim, the Lifelong Gardener

2 thoughts on “How To Germinate Seeds – Simple Steps with Great Results!

  1. Patsy Reply

    It has been a few years since I had a vegetable garden and would like to start one again this year. I grew tomatoes, zucchini, small green onions and cucumbers.

    I wasn’t aware that to get them sprouting it helps to keep them warm. I always followed the directions on the package, I have never tried a seed starter kit.

    Your method of using a paper towel soaked in warm water is interesting. I may try that, I will take down the directions for this thank you.

    Can you recommend a good time to start this process?

    • Jim Reply

      Thanks, for stopping by my website, Patsy!

      I germinate a lot of seeds and, I usually start about a month before the last frost with the harder-to-germinate veggies like tomatoes and peppers. Several weeks later, I start my zucchini and cucumbers. And, I wait until after the last frost to plant my green onions directly into the garden, as well as my young seedlings that I germinated.

      My article on transplanting would also be an excellent resource for you. Check it out:….


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