How to Prime a Vegetable Seed


Priming helps improve germination rates with many different vegetable seeds. When you prime a vegetable seed, you are encouraging it to break dormancy quickly and to begin sprouting. Not all vegetables require this treatment. Those that normally germinate quickly, like radish and lettuce, do best when directly seeded without priming. Seeds that take longer to germinate, such as squash and corn, benefit the most from priming. Work out your planting schedule so you have time to prime the seeds the day prior to sowing.

Step 1

Fill a bowl with hot water that is between 170 and 210 degrees F. Use distilled water, or fill the bowl with water two days before you plan to prime the seeds and let it sit uncovered on the counter. This allows any chlorine in the water to evaporate.

Step 2

Place the seeds inside the hot water. Allow them to soak overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Step 3

Prepare seed-planting pots while the seeds are priming. Fill the pots to within ¼ inch of the rim with a sterile potting mixture. Water the mixture until it is just moist.

Step 4

Plant the primed seeds in the potting mix to a depth twice that of their width. If the seeds have begun to crack or sprout during soaking, plant them so that the crack or sprout is facing upward.

Step 5

Place the pots in a warm, sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist at all times. Seedlings should emerge from the soil within a week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bean seeds rarely need to be soaked. These have a tendency to split but not germinate when soaked, leading to rotting.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled water
  • Bowl
  • Seeds
  • Plant pots
  • Potting mixture


  • Ohio State University Extension: Plant Propagation
Keywords: priming vegetable seed, vegetable seed preparation, growing vegetables from seed, pre-soak seeds, scarify seeds, chitting

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.