Testing Seeds for Viability

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
December 8, 2014

Test Seeds For ViabilityAs I write this, there are still nineteen days until winter actually begins. It will be another two to three months before I can start my indoor seedlings. It's hard waiting.


One thing I can do while I'm waiting is test my seeds for viability. This will reduce the chances of disappointment when I start my seedlings, later on. I keep seeds for as long as fifteen years. After that time, some will still have a high germ rate. Others will be completely dead. Testing ten seeds in a cup will tell me whether to allow an area in the garden for the whole lot of seed.

It's important to be informed as to the germination requirements of different seeds. You can find this information on the Internet. You will want to know the average time it takes for the seeds to germinate. Don't discard ungerminated seeds til you're sure they have been given sufficient time. Some seeds will germinate in as little as 24 hours, some will take up to a full year or more.

Some seeds require light for germination. In this case, the seeds would be just barely covered with soil, or not at all, just lightly pressed into the soil. Other seeds require darkness for germination and should be kept in darkness til sprouted.


Some seeds, probably most, require an average temperature of around seventy degrees for proper germination. Some require a higher temperature and some as low as forty degrees. There are even seeds that will not germinate until they have been through the heat of a forest fire.

So you see, with different seeds having different requirements for germination, it's best to take a few minutes to inform yourself as to the needs of each. You'll know what to expect when starting your seeds indoors or out, and the testing will give you a chance to do a wee bit of growing, mid winter.

Some time back, I was reading several entries with suggestions for getting moonflower vine seeds to germinate. Some suggested soaking the seeds. Others suggested nicking the seeds. Some suggested both. I've never had to do either, and still have germination in as little as five days.


As a matter of fact, I saved seeds from plants which grew from seeds that germinated in five days. I promised here, to let readers know what happened when I planted those seeds. The results are pictured below. Believe it or not, the parent seeds germinated in five days, and their progeny, the ones pictured, germinated in forty-eight hours.

I don't treat these seeds differently from any others. When I find why I have such good luck with germinating moonflower vine seed, I'll be sure to post that, too.

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 4


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 293 Posts
December 10, 20141 found this helpful

This is a very good idea! Saves a lot of work later on. I will try this, thanks. You've got my vote! :)

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
January 3, 20151 found this helpful

I just discovered a website that undoubtedly provides the most complete, most comprehensive guides to planting various types of seeds. Covered are most all well known flower and vegetable seeds. Listed are best temperatures, moisture levels, light requirements, planting depth, providing cold treatment and much more to insure the highest germ rate. Do yourself a favor and check out this site.


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January 5, 20150 found this helpful

Great idea! I have wasted a lot of time over the years on certain seeds never growing.

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January 25, 20150 found this helpful

I had no trouble planting my seeds straight from the package in the ground and they came up just fine. The vine grew and flowers were forming - almost open. They would have opened the next morning; however, we had a freeze that night and I lost them... sniff. I will try again this year but plant them earlier!

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