Grow Seeds Without Soil!




Introduction: Grow Seeds Without Soil!

About: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science experiences so that educators, parents, youth, and famil...

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!



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    10 Discussions


    Question 4 months ago

    Is the baby plant can also be grown without soil? And water too

    Hi. Thanks. I've done this but i'm not always successful once I transfer it to soil. Can we leave the seeds to grow in water? and add rocks or nutrients to the water?

    2 replies

    My question is would you do this with every seed because I am trying to grow cotton indoors and I need to plant my cotton without if you got any tips let me know. Thanks

    Look into hydroponics or aquaponics. There are lots of instructables on here about those.

    great job although you can only keep them like that for so long because if you keep it in the germination process for most of the time it will rot and die

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Good job. Cotton can also be used for the purpose.