Introduction: Garden Experiment: Can Starting Seeds in an Instant Pot Increase Germination Speed?

I recently saw a social media post in a gardening group claiming that an Instant Pot can greatly increase the speed at which garden seeds germinate. I decided to put it to the test.


1 Instant Pot

8 Ziploc bags

Paper towel


4 types of seeds: cucumber, goji berry, runner bean, and ghost pepper

Step 1: Decide What Seeds to Grow

At the time of this experiment, I independently wanted to start some cucumber seeds, so they were first on my list. After that; however, I wanted a diverse seed grouping that included both seeds considered "easy" to grow, and more challenging. Beans are well known for their relative ease of germination. Even kids often experiment with starting beans because of their quick and impressive sprouts. So runner beans definitely are a good option.

Next I considered the very tiny goji berry seeds, which often are known to be hard to germinate.

Finally, I put in ghost pepper seeds. Superhot peppers are notorious for the long times it takes them to germinate. I thought that adding ghost peppers would give me a very good outer wall of how long it might take to germinate seeds.

Step 2: Determine Your Growing Medium

An old stand-by method for getting seeds to germinate is a damp paper towel inside a Ziplock bag. This also allows great visibility to see what is happening, since the bag is clear. I decided the Ziplock/Paper towel method was the one I would use.

Step 3: Establish a Control Group

As we are testing the efficacy of an instant pot at decreasing germination times, in addition to the seeds going into the instant pot, we must have identical seeds remaining out. As such, I divided each of the 4 types of seeds into 2 groups: one growing in the instant pot and one growing at room temperature. All other potential variables were the same between the 2 groups.

Step 4: Check the Seeds Every Day

In order to know which method (instant pot or room temperature) works best, I am checking for germination once each day.

Step 5: The Results Are In

Beans in instant pot first sprouted after 48 hours. All beans from the instant pot had sprouted in 96 hours.
Beans out of the instant pot had 3 sprouts after 96 hours, but none earlier.
Cucumber seeds in the instant pot showed a first sprout in 48 hours.
Cucumber seeds out of the instant pot showed a first sprout after 14 days.
Goji showed first 2 sprouts in instant pot at 120 hours
Goji showed first sprouts out of instant pot after 17 days.
Ghost Pepper in instant pot sprouted after 19 days.
Ghost Pepper sprouted outside instant pot in 22 days.

Step 6: Analyze the Data

Across all of the seeds, starting germination inside the instant pot improved results versus starting them at room temperature. The reason for this is that seeds like a damp warm environment in which to germinate, and the instant pot allows you to provide just that. The most shocking part of this was the relatively small difference between ghost pepper seeds started at room temperature and started in the instant pot. Either way it seems the super hot seeds take some time to germinate.

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