swede seeds sprouting from blue coated treated graded seeds, showing the seed cracking open and the sprout coming out

How Long Does It Take for Vegetable Seeds To Sprout

At the beginning of a new season, it is a great idea to consider what you can do to give your garden a head start.

Doing this will often enable you to harvest more throughout the season as well as be able to harvest your produce earlier.

One easy way to be able to get your garden to this next level is to start your seeds early and consider your plant plan taking into account how long vegetable seeds sprout.

The times that it takes vegetable seeds to sprout can depend and change on many different variables, and yet many times it will still end up being a variance of days.

There are many charts online that can be seen for information regarding specific vegetables.

In this article, we give you a breakdown of the different variables that can affect the sprouting time for vegetable seeds as well as approximately how long it will take for different kinds of veggies.

How long does it take for vegetable seeds to sprout

Getting right to the answer and then thinking about the variables that can change it, most vegetable seeds take an average of one to two weeks to germinate from the time you plant them in the soil until you see the green sprout appear.

It can span this entire time and a bit more depending on what you plant, with radish seeds taking an average of three to eight days to germinate and sprout and are contrasted by parsnips, which take an average of sixteen to twenty-five days to do the same.

Triggering the process of germination is the first step after planting the seeds.

Many seeds will have their own set of requirements that need to be met to successfully trigger their sprouting.

Luckily, many seeds have very similar requirements and can generally be treated the same way.

Some of these requirements include the temperature they are at, the amount of water they are able to absorb and the lighting they receive once they break the surface.

We are also going to talk about how influential their outing coating might be when thinking of trying to speed up their natural germination process.

For other seeds such as potatoes, you should try a different approach – see my article on how to sprout eyes on potatoes for more info.

Germination temperature

The factor of heating is probably one of the most important when considering conditions that will alter the rapidity of seeds sprouting.

The temperature of the surrounding environment and soil the seeds are initially planted in is a big factor on triggering germination.

Naturally, seeds that are developed by the matured plant by the end of its season the year before may fall off or stay attached to the seed head until spring.

This means that they experience colder temperatures as they will be subjected to the winter weather.

Then, spring arrives and brings with it warmer weather.

This is why the temperature the seeds are at naturally acts as one of the triggers and why placing the seed pan on a heating pad should trigger the plants to begin germinating.

This is also the reason that certain seeds may have a specific cold dormancy period that they have to undergo before they will be able to germinate.

The effect of moisture on seed germination

We have probably all heard the old adage “April showers bring May flowers”.

This points to one of the other main factors when trying to get seeds to germinate and then sprout, the level of water they are able to absorb.

During winter periods, even if snow falls, the ground may be too cold to allow the seeds to really soak up the water they need to fill up with.

This means that as the ground thaws, the seeds regain this capability right in time for the rainfalls of the spring to begin.

This rain, or water if you are not just relying on nature, is what the seeds will allow to soak through their hardened exterior and allow themselves to expand.

Once they expand enough and there is enough internal pressure from the water and the growing seedling, the seed’s casing will pop open, allowing the seedling to sprout.

When trying to simulate natural conditions, without trying to flood your seed trays out, it is a good idea to keep them moist and allow the seeds plenty of access to water.

The effect of lighting on seed germination

This is important to consider as the seedlings push closer to the soil surface.

If they do not have any light source, then as soon as the natural food storage inside of the seed’s casing is used up, it will have no way to begin photosynthesizing and will die quickly.

If the seeds are not planted outside, where they will inevitably get the sunlight they need, then it is a good idea to employ an artificial lighting system.

These systems are sold in many different sizes and can be extremely helpful if having trays of dirt laying around your house seems unappealing to you.

Using one of these artificial lighting methods allows the seedlings to get enough light whether they are in a backroom or a basement until they are ready to be transplanted outside.

How to germinate seeds

Finally, we are going to touch on how to speed this process up by making the seedlings job a little easier.

One rare practice to be able to do this is by scarification, a process that is much like the word sounds. This is only really applicable for larger seeds.

By using a sharp knife, gardeners will make a nick in the seed to make it easier for the seed to open itself up instead of relying on the slow buildup of pressure to crack its outer layer and let the seedling escape.

Some seeds may need to be scarified to germinate, but more often this will not be the case.

Another way to speed up the sprouting process is to soak the seeds in water overnight to get them to soak up the water they need before they even hit the soil.

This way they will not have to contend with the surrounding soil to absorb the water before they can and they will quickly be able to soak it up. This is a very good idea if you have only a few seeds to sow and you typically have sandy dry soils.

Seed germination experiment

It is advisable to place a few of the seeds you are intending to plant onto a piece of moist tissue paper and keep them in a warm place indoors for a few days before sowing them into the soil.

Another way to germinate seeds is inside a germination station -this is a small tray which you place your seeds on a damp cloth – it has a heat pad underneath the tray which heats up the seeds which speeds up germination time.

This will allow you to check the viability of the seeds before going to the bother of sowing them and waiting for something to happen. At least this way you can be sure the seeds are in good condition before sowing.

Storing seeds

It is very important to store seeds somewhere cool, dark and not too dry or wet. The ideal temperature is between 5 and 10 degreee centigrade or 41 to 50 farenheit.

If it is much warmer than this the seed may dry out too much and not germinate properly or it may not get the cool pre germination period required. This will mean when you sow the seed in the soil it will not register the warming up period, resulting in little to no germination.

Example of damaged seed vs new seeds

a seed germination experiment - how long it takes for old seeds vs new seeds to sprout
The swede seeds on the right were stored inside a warm home for one year. These still did not germinate after 3 weeks. The swede seeds on the left were bought new. sown immediately and germinated in 5 days.

Now that you know the timetable you are dealing with and the main factors needed to encourage sprouting, your crops should be ahead of the game and ready to produce a great harvest in no time!