If you've ever planted seeds, only to discover that few (or none) of them sprouted - then this Instructable is for you! I wasted a lot of seeds this year - and was a bit disappointed that it wasn't as easy as sprinkling some seeds and watching them flourish. For some plants that might work - but others need a little help and care. In this Instructable you will learn how to quickly turn those seeds into little sprouting plants in a matter of a few days! In addition to knowing which seeds have sprouted properly, you will also save many days off of the germination process. In the main photo you can see two sprouting zinnias - they went from seed to sprouted in 3 days.
Step 1: A Few Items Needed for Fast Seed Sprouting
- Packets of Seeds
- Small Planters (any kind is fine)
- Seed Starter Mix
- Clear Plastic Cups to put over planters
- Small Scissors
Step 2: Clipping & Soaking
The whole process here is very simple. Take out your seed packets and your clear cups. If you are going to germinate several seed packets, you should label the cups and packets so you know what you're growing and where. I put a number 1. on my first packet and its corresponding cup.
Next, open up the seed packet and pull out some seeds. You'll want to carefully cut a small piece off of the end of the seed. Place the seeds in the cup as you go along and until you are satisfied with how many seeds you have. Once you've done that for all your seed packets, then take the cups with the seeds already in them, and fill it up with water about half-way.
You should check on these every day to see how things are progressing. If you see seeds actively sprouting, you can then move onto the next step with them. If not, wait it out a little longer and you'll see it happen. If you are using super tiny seeds and they are too small to clip, there are other methods which involve spraying them with water and covering them - but I'm not too familiar as I haven't tried it yet. If you do this with sunflower seeds, just be careful what you're cutting off - because if you cut too deep you can damage the inside and it will not sprout. After about a day and a half, I did get one sunflower seed sprouted out. I also had hollyhock and zinnias which were sprouting all over the place after only 24 hours.
Step 3: Planting the Germinated Seeds
Once you start to see that seeds are sprouting and have germinated, it is then time to plant them. I bought these super tiny terra cotta planters at Walmart (for about 25-50 cents each) and they are adorable and will work well for the sprouted plants. But, you can also use those long trays used for seed starting (the ones that have the plastic cover are ideal).
You should have a seed starter mix and fill up the little planters with it. Then, wet the seed starter mix well. After that, follow the directions on the seed packet to know how deep to plant the sprouted seeds. And when ready, plant them and cover with a little seed starter mix with the tail end down into the soil. If the seed is still attached, that should be at the top. If you are using a really small planter, only put a few in one planter. From what I've read and my research and failed attempts with seed planting directly into the soil, it seems to be quite important to use a seed starter mix vs. regular soil.
Once you're done with planting them in seed starter mix, then take the clear plastic cup and cover them individually (this only works if the planters are small or the cup is big enough). If your planter is too big, you could use several other things to achieve the same result. For example, you could cut the top part off of a two-liter bottle and use that as a cover. Or, you could use plastic wrap to cover the seedlings. Once they have really emerged out of the soil, you can uncover them.
In the meantime, you can check back on the other seeds that are soaking to see if they have germinated. At least this way you can avoid using the bad seeds and only plant the sprouted ones.
Step 4: Growth & Transplanting
Last thing to note is that it's important to take good care of the plant as it is growing. These mini terra cotta planters have little trays below them and a hole in the main planter. So once watered, the excess water will be collected into the tray. As the soil dries out, it will "self-water" with the excess in the tray. But, it's also important to keep the top moist by spraying it with water.
Once the plants are growing and have several real leaves, it is usually safe to transplant them. It is recommended to go through a seedling hardening off phase before transplanting them. Basically, you are supposed to take the small plants outside in a shady area for a few hours, several days in a row before you actually transplant them. This is important for them to get used to the outside environment and toughen up a bit before the actual planting in real soil.
I wish you success with your seed planting! If you end up using this method, I hope you can make a comment or post a picture! If you have any questions, please ask!