How to Germinate a Seed - Happy Hydro

There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a plant grow. But sometimes, getting started can be a real pain in the butt. We’re going to go over a few of the different ways you can successfully germinate a seed.

There are some important things that we need to monitor while we germinate our seeds. Things to keep an eye on are humidity, temperature, and light levels.

Most seeds should be started in a dark place slightly above room temperature and in a humid environment.

So, let’s get to the methods.


The Paper Towel Method

This method of germinating requires the following:

  1. Plastic bag or airtight container
  2. Paper towels
  3. Seedling heat mat (not 100% necessary)

We’re going to get a paper towel moist with room temperature water. You don’t want it to be dripping wet, but you want the entire paper towel to be damp. Fold the paper towel in half and then place the seeds on one half of the paper towel.


You want to fold the paper towel in half again now so the seeds are inside and have layers of damp paper towel all around them.



Now, if you have a plastic bag go ahead and put the paper towel in the bag and close it. If you are using an airtight container just put the lid on. 

At this point, you will place the bag or container in a drawer or somewhere that is dark and stays room temperature.

If you have a seedling heat mat you can plug it in and put it down, place a folded up bathroom towel on top of it and then place the seedlings on top of that. You have to be careful not to get the seeds too hot so having a thermostat for your seedling heat mat would be really beneficial.


If you don’t have the heat mat, no big deal. Your seedlings might take a bit longer to germinate which is ok. That’s it! Just check on your seedlings every couple days and wait for them to germinate.


Water Method

This is probably the easiest and most simple way to germinate seeds. Some people are really against it and others swear by it but it definitely works for many kinds of plants.



You will need the following:

  1. A cup of distilled water
  2. Seedling heat mat (optional)

That’s it.

Go ahead and put some distilled water in your cup (if you don’t have distilled water just let a cup of tap water sit out overnight so some of the chlorine can evaporate) and drop the seeds in!

If you have a heat mat plug it in, put a folded bath towel over it, and set the cup on there. You only want the cup to be a few degrees above room temperature to speed up germination.

Make sure you put the cup with water and seeds in a dark area and check on them every day. Once the seed sprouts, you can get them out of the water and into some wet dirt!

Rockwool Method

A lot of growers use rockwool when seed starting. It’s more complicated than using the paper towel or plain water but once the seeds sprout you can let them grow into little plants right in the rockwool.

From there, you can drop your rockwool cube with the little plant growing right into a hydroponic system or soil garden.



This is what you will need:

  1. Rockwool cubes
  2. Seedling tray with dome
  3. Seedling heat mat (optional)
  4. Spray bottle
  5. pH down & pH meter

The first thing you need to do when using this method is to prepare your rockwool. We will be working on an article going over all of that but for now, I’ll tell you the basics.

You want to take a bucket of water and add pH down until your pH reads 5.0.

Now, place your rockwool cubes in the water and let them soak for a half hour. This should bring the overall pH level to an even 6.0 (within .3 pH is fine) and the rockwool is now pH stable and ready.


From here, poke a little hole in the rockwool with a toothpick or pin so you can get a seed to fit in it. The hole should be deep enough so the seed sits about halfway down in the rockwool cube.

From there, use your fingers and close the hole a little bit to prevent too much light from getting in.

Place your cubes in the seed starting tray, spray the seedling tray dome with water, and apply the dome. Try to make sure the dome is sealed so it stays humid inside.

Pro tip - some garden shops sell different brands of trays/domes that don’t fit together properly, make sure yours do!


In conclusion...

These are not the only methods for germinating seeds but rather some of the most common. You are welcome to do more research and try any method you see fit. The possibilities of gardening are endless which makes it so fun!

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