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Friday, March 28, 2008

Space Saver: Germinate Seeds By Using The Plastic Bag Method

I received a bad batch of seeds, and wasted a lot of window sill space trying to get these puppies to germinate. I decided to use the plastic bag method with the remaining seeds to save space on my windowsill. The basic idea is to "plant" a lot of seeds in a bag, and only transfer the seeds that sprout. If you have never used this method before, it is a cool project to try out.

Note: I would not recommend using this method for very tiny or delicate seeds if you plan to transplant the seeds.

  • Large Clear Ziploc bag or other clear resealable airtight bag.
  • Paper Towel
  • Water
  • Seeds
  • Pen
  • Spray bottle (optional)


1. Wet a paper towel with water, and squeeze out the excess water. The towel should be moist, but not dripping wet. If it is too wet, the seed can "drown," develop bacteria and/or rot. If you have a spray bottle handy, you might want to use it to lightly mist the paper towel.

2. Spread out the paper towel and then drop the seeds on one half of the paper towel. Space out the seeds so that they are not too clumped together. Fold over the other side of the paper towel over the seeds, and gently press your hands over the edges and the spaces between the seeds. This will create a seal and keep the seeds from falling out.

3. Slide the paper towel holding the seeds inside the plastic bag. Seal the plastic bag. The bag will keep the water from escaping and provide constant moisture to the seeds, which is key to a successful germination.

4. Use the pen to label the bag. I write down the name of the plant and the date. Hang the plastic bag up. You can use magnets to fix the bag to the refrigerator or weave the top portion of the bag in and out of the window blinds. Then wait for the seeds to sprout.

5. Once the seeds sprout, remove them from the bag and plant them in the ground. Do not pull on the seeds or seedlings because you are likely to damage the tender root system. Just take two fingers, place one finger on either side of the seedling, press down onto the moist paper towel and gently pull or tear apart the paper towel to free the seedings. If a bit of the paper towel remains on the root system just leave it and plant the whole thing in soil. It will eventually break down. Discard all of the seeds that did not sprout.


Bad Human? said...

I had no success with a bunch of my seeds, tomatoes included so I'll have to give this a shot.


Lina said...

No problem. :) This method seems to work beautifully with tomato seeds. I've tried germinating sugary tomatoes, plum tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes with this method, and I've gotten all of them to germinate. Some germinated in a few days and others took almost two weeks to sprout.

Just make sure the paper towel is moist. You don't want the paper towel to be too wet or the seeds will "drown," grow bacteria, and/or rot. If you have any problems, let me know.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the help.

So once I germinate the seeds I can put them in my flower pots?? I'm creating a container garden this year in my apartment in Houston (zone 9)

Amy Smith said...

Great tips. I'll try this out on the weekend.
makati condo

Lina said...

It's a neat little project and a great space saver. After they have sprouted, you can carefully tear the paper towel around the seedling and plop the whole thing in soil.

Victoria Meetze said...

This works great for daylily seed, my old pc monitormade a great heat