Pretreating Seeds

Pretreating Seeds

Gardening does not have to be complicated. Just do it and learn as you go.
Occasionally I do pretreat my seeds.

Some seeds will germinate quicker if given a head start.
Seeds that need warm soil and are slow to germinate will benefit from being germinated indoors in soaked paper towels before planted in soil.

Perennials shrubs and trees required a period of cool and moist storage to break dormancy and start to grow called "Stratification"

Seeds: Read the seed packet for the germination requirements.
Does your seeds need; pre-soaking, scarifying, stratification or presprouting?

Pre-soaking and Scarifying

Some seeds are slow to sprout because their thick outer shells prevent the seed from taking up moisture that's needed for germination.

To soak them:

I just pour warm water over the seeds. Make sure the warm is not hot - you just want to soften the seeds hard coverings. Then mix the wet seeds with sand - so they won't clump together.
I usually soak my seeds overnight before planting.


I have done this method with nuts. It works. :)
The reason for scarifying a seed is to speed sprouting without damaging the embryo.
To Scarify a Seed - you nick the seed coat to make it easier for the seed to uptake water and start sprouting. You can use a knife, file, clippers or if it's a large seed you can rub it on sand paper.

Vegetables that benefit from pre-soaking before sowing:

Beans, Peas, Beets, Parsley, Carrots, Celery, Parsnips etc.
Seeds as a general rule: - small seeds should be pre-soaked. Large seeds should either be pre-soaked or scarified.


Perennial shrub seeds benefit from a period of cold and moist storage.
Cold Stratification is to overcome dormancy so the seeds can germinate.
Some harder to germinate seeds may require a period of cold - and then a period of moist warm Stratification.

How to Cold Stratify Seeds Indoors

Mix your seeds with a small amount of moist peat moss. Put in a Ziploc bag and keep in the fridge or sow the seeds in small pot, cover with plastic and keep it in cool room under 40 F.

Warm Stratification

Sow seeds in flats, pots and place them in a room that's about 70-75F. and dark. Check periodically and make sure your seeds remain moist and not moldy.

Presprouting Seeds

I use this method mostly because I get impatient waiting for spring to arrive or for checking if my seeds are still viable.

I have used the warm, moist conditions to sprout cucumbers seeds, peppers, peanuts, sunflowers, godetia, stalk and others.
Presprouting can give a plant head start, because it has constant moisture and warmth.
To presprout seeds, I space them out on a double layer of moist paper towel.
Roll the towels up or fold them carefully, put them in a Ziploc bag and then put them in a warm place. A sunny south window works for me. My Mom puts her's on top of the fridge.
Plant your sprout as soon as you see it. If the roots are tangled up on the paper towel - you can cut the paper towel around the roots or tear it up.
Plant seed, paper towel and all. :)
If your seeds are starting to rot - it's probably too wet. Take the seeds out of the bag - let it dry out a little bit and put it back. Watch for sprouts, humidity and mold.