How to Use Potassium Nitrate to Break Seed Dormancy


Germination is the process of getting a seed to sprout. Seeds remain dormant to ensure the best conditions for germination. There are numerous ways to encourage germination including the use of potassium nitrate, a commonly used fertilizer.

Step 1

Put on a pair of rubber gloves.

Step 2

Stir 3.5 oz. of the potassium nitrate crystals into 1 qt. of room-temperature water until they dissolve.

Step 3

Put your seeds in the solution. Let the seeds soak in the solution for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Remove the seeds from the water and let them air-dry. Do not rinse.

Step 5

Plant the seeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Potassium nitrate is a strong oxidizer. Store it in a tightly-closed container away from combustible materials. Do not inhale it or swallow it. Do not allow it to come into contact with your skin. Use only in an area that is well-ventilated. Use rubber gloves when you handle it. It can cause redness and burning if you get it in your eyes. If you inhale it, get some fresh air. If you get it in your eyes or on your skin, wash your eyes or skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • 3.5 oz. of potassium nitrate crystals
  • 1 qt. of room-temperature water


  • Weed Science Society of America: Rapid and Effective Methods for Breaking Seed Dormancy in Buffalobur
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Development and Standardization of a Simple Technique for Breaking Seed Dormancy in Sunflower
  • Mallinckrodt Baker Inc.: Material Safety Data Sheet, Potassium Nitrate

Who Can Help

  • Journal of Arid Environments: Breaking of Seed Dormancy in a Turkish Endemic Hypericum Species
Keywords: potassium nitrate seed dormancy, potassium nitrate seed germination, potassium nitrate seed treatment

About this Author

Richard Hoyt, an internationally published author of 26 mysteries, thrillers and other novels, is a former reporter for Honolulu dailies and writer for "Newsweek" magazine. He taught nonfiction writing and journalism at the university level for 10 years. He holds a Ph.D. in American studies.