Seed germination and the tips to success.

What is Seed germination?

Germination is the process of seeds developing into new plants. First, environmental conditions must trigger the seed to grow. Usually, this is determined by how deep the seed is planted, water availability, and temperature. When water is plentiful, the seed fills with water in a process called imbibition. The water activates special proteins, called enzymes, that begin the process of seed growth. First the seed grows a root to access water underground. Next, the shoots, or growth above ground, begin to appear. The seed sends a shoot towards the surface, where it will grow leaves to harvest energy from the sun. The leaves continue to grow towards the light source in a process called photomorphogenesis.

The key to optimum seed germination lies within the growing media.

A good general seedling mix which you can make up or buy already made up. We offer a great craft soil seedling mix by our friends at Freedom Farms and are in the process of developing our own seedling mix which will be available soon.

Here is how you can make your own mix.

4 parts screened worm castings

1 part perlite 

1 part vermiculite 

2 parts coir (coco peat)

To keep the dust down, lightly moisten the ingredients before blending them thoroughly in a dishpan or wheelbarrow.

Mixed all of the above together well and you are ready to sow your seeds!

The above mixes strike a balance between moisture retention and drainage, both of which are necessary for seedlings. Regulating the moisture is key as it is easy for the soil to stay too wet, and that can lead to damping-off.

Damping-off is a fungal disease that causes newly germinated seedlings to topple over and die. If you are unlucky enough to have damping-off we suggest that you treat your seedlings with a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution so you would mix 60ml of our 50% Hydrogen Peroxide solution with 940ml water to make 1 liter of solution. You can do a bottom drench and spray from the top. Best of all though is to treat your seedling mix before you plant any seeds so that damping-off does not become an issue at all.

Some flower seedlings eg. pansies, snapdragons, marigolds, and lisianthus—tend to be more sensitive to too much moisture.

Whilst the above mixes work with most seeds we suggest researching the specific germination and growing guidance of the seeds you are growing and there is no better place to start your research then our resource center where we offer growing guidance documents for all the seeds we sell.

About the Author

Kelly Dini is the Seeds for Africa customer service guru! Kelly is a qualified horticulturist with 20 years of hands on experience and loves to assist customers with recommendations and giving excellent advice.