This Is What Happens When a Seed Germinates What happens when a seed germinates? Learn about the magic of seed germination, the process of a seed swelling and rupturing (what we call sprouting), Ok, so I have had success putting them root down.. its what I have always done. Im no expert but ive grown a couple times with shitty grow rooms, and they… Gro4Me Home of Stoney Girl Gardens – Portlandsterdam – Stoney Only Dispensary Starting with Seeds Lesson 12 – Seeds (Videos Below) Always start with cuttings if you can. You will know
This Is What Happens When a Seed Germinates
What happens when a seed germinates? Learn about the magic of seed germination, the process of a seed swelling and rupturing (what we call sprouting), and how to identify all the different parts of a seed and seedling. By understanding seed anatomy and the science behind germination, you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot common seed starting problems.
No matter how many times I’ve seen it, the magic of germination still awes me as if it was the first time.
I still don’t understand how bushels of juicy tomatoes will come from a single seed smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser, or how specks of basil seeds will turn into a forest of woody, fragrant herbs that grow over 3 feet tall.
It’s amazing what happens inside a seed before and after it sprouts, and being witness to such a process—something you can only experience by growing from seed—is truly one of the wonders of life.
The anatomy of a seed and seedling is something every gardener should know, and learning the science behind it will help you become a better gardener!
Anatomy of a seed
Sometimes we simply bring home starter plants from the nursery, which have already been trained and nurtured from birth, and we don’t realize what it took to get them to that point.
Then we think how hard it is just to keep those starter plants alive!
Try raising them from seed, where it may take a few tries and a few rounds of natural selection before you get the perfect plant.
When you have a seed in front of you, you’re looking at the seed coat, or testa. Seed coats can be soft and thin (like beans) or fleshy and thick (like squash).
Think of them as armor for the future plants inside; the seed coats protect against the elements until conditions present themselves in just the right manner for germination to take place.
Seed coats are adapted to their environments, and they function as a barrier to damage or injury, heat or cold, bacteria or fungi, and even stomach acidity (if ingested by animals).
With all this bomber protection in place, it’s no wonder we sometimes have trouble getting a seed to sprout! (Soaking your seeds first can help with this, or in the case of tomato seeds, you can ferment them to speed up germination.)
Seed coats vary in thickness and texture across different seeds
On some seeds, you can see the scar, or hilum, that was left behind when the seed became detached from the mother plant (similar to a human belly button).
Hilum are most visible on bean seeds, where the scars as known as eyes—as in black-eyed peas. Others are less noticeable and look like little nubs or dents on the seed coat.
Hilum (seen here as eyes) on pea and bean seeds
Hilum (seen here as a small indentation) on a tomato seed
Inside the seed coat is the embryo (baby plant), the endosperm (nutritive tissue), the cotyledons (leaf-like structures), and the beginnings of the root and shoot.
Look closely at this wet seed and you’ll actually see the green cotyledons tucked tightly inside and curled up in fetal position. They are just waiting to be released! (Or at least, that’s what I hope every time I start some seeds.)
The cotyledon (green leaf-like structure) is visible inside this seed
What happens when a seed germinates
Germination occurs when all the proper variables are in place for that particular variety (oxygen, temperature, light or darkness) and the seed coat absorbs water, causing it to swell and rupture.
The first sign of life comes from the radicle, a little white tail that eventually becomes the primary root of the plant.
The radicle (primary root) emerges first when a seed germinates
A green stem starts to appear after the radicle (primary root) as the seed continues to sprout
The role of the radicle is to anchor the plant in the ground and start absorbing water. Once it absorbs water, a rudimentary stem emerges and the cotyledons start to unfurl, often taking the seed coat with them as they rise above the soil.
(I like to call them seed hats, as sometimes they’re never shed from the cotyledons and end up looking like little berets.)
A radicle anchors the seedling and starts absorbing water before cotyledons unfurl from the seed coat
Cotyledons emerging from the seed coat
Shown above: Cotyledons, stem, seed coat, and radicle
What are cotyledons?
Cotyledons look like leaves but are actually not leaves at all. Sometimes they’re called seed leaves, because they’re part of the seed or embryo of the plant. Their function is to absorb all the endosperm and become the temporary stores of the plant’s initial supply of nutrients.
There can be just one cotyledon (monocotyledon, as is the case with onions and corn) or there can be two (dicotyledons, which are the majority of your vegetables).
Monocotyledons (on onion seedlings)
Dicotyledons (on mustard seedlings)
Because cotyledons are not the “true leaves” on a plant, most sprouts from the same family look alike at birth, even if they don’t resemble one another as they mature (like these tomatoes and peppers).
(This is why it’s important to label your seed trays, otherwise you’ll be waiting weeks for the seedlings to develop further before you can identify them.)
The cotyledons feed the plant until all the nutrients are used up. Once they’re spent, they naturally wither and fall off the stem as new leaves form.
These second and subsequent sets of leaves, known as true leaves, are highly distinctive.
You can see how these two varieties of tomatoes have the same cotyledons, but once their true leaves emerge, one seedling has the serrated edges typical of a regular tomato leaf while the other has the smoother lines of a potato leaf.
Tomato seedling with serrated leaves
Tomato seedling with “potato” leaves
What’s the difference between cotyledons and true leaves?
In general, it takes one to three weeks for true leaves to appear once the cotyledons emerge. (The timeframe is dependent on the type of plant, as well as environmental factors like sunlight, moisture, and temperature.)
So how can you tell the difference?
Cotyledons are always the first leaf-like structures to form when a seed germinates. Most cotyledons are nondescript and tend to look similar within a plant family.
For example, tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings (members of the nightshade family) all start out with a pair of long, narrow leaves with slightly pointed tips. On the other hand, radishes, broccoli, and kale (members of the brassica family) begin life with two stubby, heart-shaped cotyledons.
Once the true leaves develop, they start to resemble actual leaves on the mature plant—just tinier versions of them. True leaves grow above the cotyledons and take over the job of supporting the plant for the rest of its lifecycle.
After the first few sets of leaves sprout and the roots dig deeper into the soil, the seedling draws energy from photosynthesis above ground and nutrients found below ground. This is when it enters its vegetative state, and your once-little seedling is on its way to sexual maturity (bud, flower, fruit, and seed).
They grow up so fast, don’t they?
To learn more or get started, here’s a simple guide to starting seeds indoors and a quick tutorial on starting seeds in paper towels (otherwise known as the “baggie method”).
Putting seeds in soil , root up , root down.
Ok, so I have had success putting them root down.. its what I have always done. Im no expert but ive grown a couple times with shitty grow rooms, and they have always come outta the ground. But, I was reading a post the other day that said to put it root UP, because the root curls , and it will only have to curl once to make its way down. So instead of having the root down , where it wastes energy curling twice, once towards to “top” of the seed casing, and then down again to the bottom of the pot. u put it root up so it only curls once, downward.
Im starting to think its true, because after looking closely at a germinating seed, it down infact look like its curling towards the “top” of the seed casing.
I soak my seeds in water and just throw them any way they land on the soil and cover them. It is good to put the root down.
I soak my seeds in water and just throw them any way they land on the soil and cover them. It is good to put the root down.
thats what everyone says. And also what I believed. But after reading about it , and actually looking at a seed when the root is first coming out. It does look like the seed should be placed root up , as the root looks like its curling down like the post I looked at said.
Dunno , i never put em in exactly perfect anyway. Anything will work really.
I see what ya mean about the root curling. I just looked at my sprouts before coming to where i have internet service. When i go home im going to check that out. Mine always grow as well. Interesting thought.
smoky mac pot
I used to put them root down. Then read somewhere to put them root up and have been doing it that way since. I think it works better. Makes more sense to me anyway.
Yea on my first grow i planted root up and they sprouted in less than 1 day. Now this is my second grow and i planted root down and they still havent sprouted and its been 3 days so now im worried
A CUT and PASTE for you all I have read ssen and heard of both up and down
Marijuana seeds should be placed with the POINTED END UP into a prepared cannabis seeds germination bed or just good soil at a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. The embryo tap root emerges from the pointed (stylar) end and the natural method of growth is for this root to make a turn and grow downward (see the illustration) This bend formed by the downward curve of the taproot is what emerges from the soil and the friction of dragging the cannabis seeds upward helps the new plant to loosen and cast off the seed case when it breaks through the surface. If the cannabis seeds are placed with the pointed end down, the embryo will be required to expend a great deal of its stored energy for twisting and turning to position the tap root when it realizes that it is heading the wrong way (see illustration of germinating marijuana seeds) The seedling will need this energy to exert the forces required to later lift its head (now enclosed by the two halves of the seed case) above the soil, cast off the seed case and then spread its two embryo leaves and begin the life-giving photosynthetic process. This is a critical stage in growth and carelessness in placing the marijuana seeds will exhaust even the most hearty seedling and result in a slow start and a feeble plant in later life. Cannabis seeds should be placed in a small hole at a depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. An excellent medium for germination is a mixture of rich humus and fine sand, such as the type used for aquariums. The soil needs a ph of 7.5 to 8.0 and should not be so moist that it sticks to your fingers. If the medium is too moist, the seeds will rot and ferment before they can sprout. A simple test for moisture is to stick a pencil into the soil and if soil adheres to it when removed, then it is too moist. Sort of like when you test a cake by sticking a straw into it to see if it is baked through to the middle. The ideal is not too moist, and not too dry – and be sure that the soil is well-drained. Research has shown that a soil temperature that is at, or slightly above, the air temperature promotes the best survival rates and growth.
My question is in the wild when plants drop their seeds do the drop them point up or point down think about it
im not sure it really matters it has to work harder one way then the other but it would only seperate men for boys or should i say girls from woman
I’m new to growing and i purchased some seeds from a website. My plants are about 2 weeks now and they are about 8 inches tall with the four leaves. I think they are on pace, what sort of things should i do to improve growing at this point? I have them under a hp gro light 24 hours a day. Also what new stages should I be looking for to know their healthy?
Home of Stoney Girl Gardens – Portlandsterdam – Stoney Only Dispensary
Starting with Seeds
Lesson 12 – Seeds (Videos Below)
Always start with cuttings if you can. You will know the genetics and sex of the plant. A cutting will also grow faster and produce an exact replica of the parent.
Sometimes there is no other way than to start with seeds. We use seeds for backup when we don’t have cuttings or starting a new breed. Don’t use Jiffy Pots or Rock Wool. Don’t use paper towels. Don’t expose seeds directly to sunlight. Just follow the instructions in the following video. We make it easy.
Note: see the illustration below for a better explanation of “Tails Up” as referred to in the video. Also note that if you have a long tail on your seed see the Exception below.
Tips on Seeds
- •Genetics = know the origin and history. You can’t make a low grade super weed with your miracle garden. Mexican will never be Kush.
- Hybrid or Breeding Stock- is this a bag seed or did it come from a breeder? If it is a bag seed then little is known about the genetics and the seeds may all be quite different. You may want to plant several to see which one you want to keep. Breeder seeds are best.
- Expect the extra time (Up to 30 Days). Clones are much faster than seeds. Seeds take longer.
- Male or Female – Sex it early (more on this in the Sexing lesson).
- Advantages of Seeds are that there are no Bugs and they grow with more vigor.
Advantages of Cuttings
- Known origin and history – you get an exact replica of the parent.
- Known sex – There is nothing more bummer than spending all that time growing to find out you have a male.
- Less Time – It takes a month more to grow a seed.
Tails Up Illustration
Here is a diagram of an incorrectly planted seed. Note that the tail first goes to the surface then has to turn to go down into the soil. This will often cause the root to go above the surface and dry, or it will drain the energy from the seed because it has to make the extra turn.
Above shows an improperly positioned seed. Below shows a properly positioned seed.
The diagram below shows the seed properly positioned with the pointed end of the seed up. The tap root will turn and go down, pushing the seed up and out of the soil.
If your seed tail is long (more than 3/4 inch) then plant it tail down. Note that the tail is still coming out of the top of the seed. The exit point of the root is usually towards the top. If the root is long, plant it root down, otherwise it will be too deep.
Sometimes your seed in the cup will have a long tail. A long tail may be anywhere from 3/4 of an inch to 3 inches long. In this case you must plant the seed with the tail down.
Poke a hole deep enough for the tail to go down and the seed to be just below the surface of the dirt. It would not be logical to plant the seed 3 inches deep and it would not survive.
Don’t forget to spray the surface every day with some water. We use our starter fluid. Don’t fertilize the seed at this stage as it is easy to burn. Water only after the soil has lightened. Pick up the container and feel the weight. If it starts feeling light then water it. Be careful not to overwater. The plant will die if the roots are standing in water.
Seeds Starting and Planting Videos
Seeds at 2 weeks
More Explanations and Exceptions Video
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