Introduction: Grow Seeds Without Soil!

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Oh the places they'll grow! Whether you want to eat them, grow them, or throw them in a maraca, seeds are nature's suitcases of magic. From the smallest orchid seed at 1/35,000,000th of an ounce to the largest coconut seed at just under forty pounds, seeds are food, culture, and ultimately, life. So let's grow some, yah?

If you want to check out seeds in action with a classroom or at home, you don't even need soil to go about it. With this extraordinarily simple process, your seeds will start sprout without a doubt. This is great for the youth gardener who is learning seed anatomy for the first time or the avid gardener testing seeds for viability. Let's grow!

  • What: Seeds in a Bottle
  • When: Now! And over the course of a couple weeks. :)
  • Concepts: biology, plant life, seeds, germination, life cycle
  • Materials:
    • Seeds (we used scarlet runner beans, but smaller seeds are excellent, too)
    • Paper towel
    • Bottle with cap (or a zip-loc bag if you need)
    • Water
  • Tools:

Let's seed what's next!

Step 1: Soak Your Paper

Give your paper towel a quick dip so that it is moist throughout but not soaking.

Step 2: Tuck in Your Seeds

Fold your seeds in to the paper towel, so that they have a little space between them. For smaller seeds, you can leave less space between each one.

Step 3: Bottle It Up and Place!

Take your folded up seeds and put them into a bottle, and close the cap. This will keep all the moisture in, and your seeds happy. If you don't have a bottle, you can do the same with a very well-sealed zip-loc bag. Leave them in a warm place somewhere where you won't forget them.

Step 4: Unveil Your Seeds!

So simple! You can start to see progress usually after only a couple days. The water from the towel starts to break down the seed coat, and makes the nutrients in the endosperm accessible to the "baby" plant. First out of the seed is the embryonic root called the radicle, and this will push its way to becoming the first main root. As you can see in the fifth photo, other roots may begin branching off.

For reference, this is a great image of seed anatomy, and this is a great video explaining seed growth.

You can either dissect them to see the tiny plumules (baby leaves), or now transfer them to soil, to see the seed rise up, and release the first two leaves.

Regardless of what you choose, you just started seeds with no soil! I would love to hear what you've figured out with starting your seeds. Comment below if you're growing your own!

Have fun and keep exploring!