How to Get Flower Seeds to Germinate


A flower begins life as a small dormant embryo encased in a seed shell. The proper elements must be in place before dormancy is broken and the plant bursts forth from the seed. The germination process differs between each flower variety, but three main elements must be met regardless of variety---temperature, moisture and oxygen. Providing the right amounts of each of these ensures successful germination. Exact instructions for the flower type is listed on the back of the seed envelope.

Step 1

Prepare your seed pots for planting in spring, usually four to eight weeks before the last predicted frost in your area. Choose starter pots or trays with drainage holes in the bottom and set them on a tray to catch water drips.

Step 2

Fill the pots with a commercial seed-starting soil mixture. Make your own by mixing one part sterilized compost, one part vermiculite and one part peat moss together.

Step 3

Prepare seeds with special considerations for planting. Refrigerate seeds requiring cold stratification for four weeks prior to planting. Nick the hard coating of seeds such as morning glory with sandpaper before planting.

Step 4

Sow seeds in the center of each pot or three inches apart if using seed starting trays. Sow the seed to a depth twice that of its diameter. Sow fine seeds on the soil surface and cover with ¼ inch of soil.

Step 5

Water the soil well so it is evenly damp throughout. Discard of the run-off water in the drip tray beneath the pots.

Step 6

Cover the pots with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to germinate, such as on top of a refrigerator or on a seed heat mat. Place cool germinating seeds in a basement or enclosed porch.

Step 7

Remove the plastic wrap once sprouts appear. Move the flowers under grow lights or to a sunny window until ready to transplant outside.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove and dispose of seedlings that wilt or fall over, as they are infected with a fungal disease called damping off.

Things You'll Need

  • Pots
  • Potting soil
  • Sandpaper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Heat mat
  • Grow lights


  • University of Illinois Extension

Who Can Help

  • Germination timeframes for flowers
Keywords: seed starting, flower gardening, garden basics

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. 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.