Seed sprouting--How long to soak?

Hello all! I am a fifth grade teacher, trying to get ready for a science fair (my first!) that starts next Tuesday. I’m watching it snow and fearing a snow day tomorrow… I think for my kids who are doing experiments to find out which seeds sprout first (grass, Lima bean, sunflower or corn), I might soak them to speed things up… I read that would help.

Just wondering how long to soak them!

Anyone have any other advise? Any/all advice welcome and appreciated!!

I think when you “pregerminate” grass seed before planting, 3 days is typical. Since in typical lawn grass seed it is the ryegrass that sprouts first, you might opt for 100% ryegrass.

I don’t get it. You’re doing an experiment to measure the sprouting times for seeds, and you want to alter the sprouting times by pre-soaking - aren’t you defeating the purpose?

Soaking won’t afffect them all in the same way, or necessarily at all, so it will skew your results.

They are writing a hypothesis about which type of seed they think will sprout first (out of the ones I listed earlier). I’m just concerned since today is a snow day that there won’t be time for the students to get the seeds ready and for the seeds to sprout before our science fair (which goes on display a week from tomorrow). So, I was hoping to get a jump start for them… soak all the seeds and put them in the plastic baggies with wet paper towels. That way the kids have more time to get ready for the science fair, AND the seeds get a headstart…

I understood everything you said the first time. It just seems like what you’re proposing will break the integrity of the experiment.

And it will effect each type of seed differently. Different plants have different reproductive strategies. Some seeds won’t germinate for anyone but an expert with a lot of experience, time, and special equipment; some will sprout in a day with just a little moisture. Some require intercession by birds, some by freezing, some by fire.

None of the species you mention are this extreme, but they’ll still each react differently to presoaking. I suggest you’re stuck with the time you have left.

My money’s on the sunflower sprouting first, the grass last. I’ve sprouted all but Lima beans successfully by soaking in filtered water for 24 hours and then nestling in something damp somewhere warm for a few days. Other bean types have worked well for me, so I’m guessing Lima beans should be good too, I’ve just never grown that variety.

For the warm and damp I stick the seeds in a little dish of moist vermiculite and put this on top of the fridge, which generates a nice gentle heat as a by-product of keeping the contents cool. If the seeds are being grown on then they’re picked up gently by the seed case or leaf - never the root or stem - and potted up. If you’re not potting them up then they can be grown in cotton wool, but it’s impossible to separate the root from the cotton without damage once the roots penetrate.

I remember growing cress this way at school at the age of 6, all the better for learning the difference between porous and non-porous objects (or chorus and non-chorus as I heard it then, the word “porous” not being in my vocabulary). I remain unconvinced that the definition of “porous” refers to the ability to grow cress, but that’s what we were taught at the time, and I do now know that cress grows better on a flannel than on a brick.

Do it right and you should have little cotyledons within the week; success to you.

Soaking may rot some of the seeds. It’s not always lots of water that is critical to germination. Soil temperature is important. Sun or darkness is important depending on which plant is to be started. Sometimes nicking a seed is the way to speed sprouting. Sometimes a minimum amount of time at a certain coldness is required.

Agree. You could pick a different selection of seeds with shorter (but still various) start times - maybe grass, millet, mustard, lettuce, mung beans, cress - the latter of these starts sprouting within 24 hours.