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Unit 3 Part (B). Seed Starting in Hydroponics

Seed Starting

[A picture of a germinating seed]

Many seeds require special conditions to germinate. For example, most garden vegetables and herb seeds need to remain damp or wet for some time.

Seeds can be germinated in a hydroponic grower, and often they germinate even better than in soil.

Comic on planting

Planting Seeds

Most seeds are placed below the surface of the media. A suggested placement is from to 1 inch below the surface. This keeps the seed very moist and will give it some feel for when the light is and where the dark is. The root of the plant will grow down towards the dark and the water, and the plant stem and leaves will go towards the light.

Many seed packets include instructions for soil and mention how deep to bury the seeds. They can be planted at the same depth in hydroponics.

Some seeds, like beans and corn, will germinate in just a few days. Some others, such as tomato, bell pepper and herbs may take as long as two weeks until they appear. Growers with seeds should be watered each day although no plants are showing. If you do not see any sign of life after two weeks, it is best to replant the grower.

Occasionally the grower root area will be so cold or so dry, the seeds will not germinate.

To germinate very small seeds like many herbs, a special form of germination may be required. One way is to start the seeds between two pieces of paper or a towel soaked with water. The towel is kept moist each day.

Germinating some types of seeds is more complicated than just soaking in water. Some seeds need to be damaged in some way to germinate, and others are specialized to respond to periods of temperature or light. If there something you would like to grow, it might help to learn what the seed requirements are to germinate.

Other Methods of Reproducing

Some plants can reproduce from cuttings. This means cutting a small part of the growing tip of a plant, pulling off the bottom leaves and sticking the cut end into the growing media. Some of the plants that can be reproduced from cuttings are basils and many of the herbs.

Garlic reproduces from individual garlic cloves. Some of the garlic in the grocery store is treated and will not sprout. An organic garlic is more likely to sprout.

Potatoes are grown from a planted potato. The potato can be cut into pieces or planted whole.

Revised: 1 May 2016
Copyright © 2016 Institute of Simplified Hydroponics