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10 Reasons Your Seeds May Not Be Germinating

Growing from seed can prove to be very economical, with more and more people choosing to grow their own produce from seed at home. 

However, growing from seed can prove to be quite a challenge. We have put together a helpful list of the top 10 reasons your seeds may not be germinating so that you have the best possible chance of success.


1. Not Getting Enough Light

When sowing from seed a common issue that can occur is the seedlings grow long and spindly and tend to not be strong enough to stand up by themselves. This is because seeds need a lot of light to grow into sturdy, healthy plants. 
      Many people opt for using grow lights to ensure their seedlings are getting enough light, grow lights give off plenty of artificial light. You will need to be able to raise the lights higher as the seedlings grow, they should be kept roughly 2-3 inches away from the plants all times. When seedlings first appear, keep the grow lights on for 12-16 hours a day.

      2. Too Little Water

       Seedlings are extremely delicate, therefore there is little room for error when it comes to watering. All seedlings do best when the soil is kept damp but not wet. This is why too little water can cause seeds not to germinate. The best way to keep your seedlings damp is to create a greenhouse-like atmosphere. This is easily achieved by putting a clear plastic bag over the top of the pot. Make sure you remove the plastic as soon as your seeds germinate to prevent rotting.

      3. Too Much Water

      On the other hand, too much water can also cause your seeds to rot and therefore not germinate. Water from the bottom of your pot and be sure to not let your pots sit in water.

      4. Starting Them Too Soon

      Be sure to check when your seeds should be sown, especially when sowing straight into the ground. Sowing at the wrong time of year may cause your seeds not to germinate. Most seed packets will include the time of year they should be sown if not this information can be found easily online.

      5. Not Planting At The Right Depth

      It is important to do your research or to read the seed packet when it comes to knowing how deep your seeds should be sown. Some seeds require complete darkness to germinate and others require light in order to germinate. The general rule of thumb is to plant seeds 2 to 3 times as deep as they are wide. If your seeds need light be sure to only cover them with a light dusting of soil so the light can easily reach the seed.


      6. Planting Them Outside Too Soon

      Most seedlings are ready to be planted outside roughly 4-6 weeks after seed sowing. It is best to harden off your seedlings gradually rather than just expose them suddenly to the elements, exposing them suddenly usually results in your seedlings dying. To harden off your seedlings gradually you need to place your seedlings outdoors for one hour a day and do this for 10-16 days, whilst gradually increasing the amount of time you leave them out for. This may sound like a time-consuming process but it will be worth it when your seedlings survive and grow into delicious crops.

      7. Planting Too Many At One Time

      It is important not to sow too many seeds at once, if you have done your research you will have very successful germination rates so it is important not to sow too many seeds just because you think some may not germinate. Sowing too many will then make it challenging to nurture all the seedlings to maturity. You will also need to remember how big your plants will grow and consider if you have the space for all the germinated seedlings when they reach maturity.

      8. Either Too Hot Or Too Cold

      In order for most seeds to germinate, they need to be kept warm. Most seed packets will have the ideal germination temperature on them. Be sure to put your seeds in the warmest spot in your house unless your instructions suggest otherwise. Alternatively, if your house isn’t particularly warm you can also get seed warming mats to place under the seed trays. This will make for a high germination rate.

      9. The Seeds Are Too Old

      Make sure you check the date on the seed packet, as sowing beyond this date can affect your germination success rate. Most seeds will last at least a couple of years when stored in a cool, dry place.

      10. Giving Up Too Soon

      Growing from seed can be a long, laborious process but an extremely rewarding one. It is important not to give up, especially if you are new to the process as you are bound to make mistakes along the way. Remember there is nothing better than eating produce you have grown yourself from seed!


      Another thing to remember is to label your seedlings, this can also be a common mistake many people make when sowing from seed. It is important to know which seeds are which as each plant species has different water and light needs and a different amount of time to maturity.

      The most important thing to remember is to not give up!

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