Germinating seeds in paper towel

Not even many gardening enthusiasts are aware of an easier and faster way to germinate seeds without involving soil, trays, or pots. So, what’s the trick? Germinating seeds in a paper towel using the baggie method helps sprout seeds more efficiently than the usual method. This method helps you save space at home, check the germination rate of the seeds, and find out which ones are still viable and can be planted. In this article, you’ll learn everything about effectively germinating seeds in paper towels.

flower seeds

Table of Contents

What exactly is paper towel germination?

Paper towel germination is the process of germinating seeds by placing them in damp paper towels and securing them in air-tight bags or containers to provide the greenhouse effect. This is an easy way to accelerate seed sprouting. These plastic bag greenhouses will provide a perfect environment for most seeds to germinate. In fact, a few seeds, like peas, often germinate overnight!

vegetable seeds

How do you germinate seeds in paper towels?

As mentioned earlier, germinating your choice of seeds in paper towels is a handy trick you can use when you start to grow a plant. Follow the steps given below to do it perfectly.

Collect your materials

Gather the things you’ll need to germinate the seeds, which include seeds, paper towels, a zip lock bag or an air-tight container, and a sprayer. You can also use a coffee filter in place of a paper towel. 

As it has a thicker weave, it can retain more moisture. Also, it allows you to lift the germinated seeds before you place them in the soil. On the other hand, in the case of a paper towel, the roots of the germinated seed or new plant get attached to it and are often planted with it.

Make cuts

First, you should cut the paper towel to fit the zip-lock bag or the air-tight container you’ve chosen to use.

Wet the paper

Moisten the paper towel with a sprayer. Remember not to overwater and make the paper soggy.

Place the seeds

After you’ve moistened the paper towel, scatter the seeds properly on half of the paper; leave at least a distance of two inches between the two seeds. Fold the other half of the paper over the seeds.

Place the paper in the zip-lock bag

You should carefully put the paper towel with the seeds in the zip-lock bag or the air-tight container. Blow some air inside the bag before closing it; you can use a straw to do that.

Choose a location

It’s ideal to place the bag near a south-facing window so that it receives sufficient heat and humidity. If you’ve used a zip-lock bag or any other transparent container, you can observe when your seeds start sprouting in the next few days.

tomato seeds can go in zip lock bag

How should you transplant the sprouted seeds from paper to a pot?

You should transplant the sprouted seeds from the paper towel to the ground or a pot by picking them up carefully by hand. If your seeds are too small, cut pieces of the paper along with the seeds on them and plant them in the pot with the paper towel. It’s always a good idea to transplant in the evening hours so that the delicate seeds are not exposed to full sunlight, which can quickly dry them out while transplanting.

What seeds should you start with when trying the wet paper towel method?

Using the wet paper towel method can be used successfully to germinate a variety of seeds, including peas, snow peas, tomatoes, peppers, wax beans, green beans, eggplants, turnips, beans, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, zinnias, pineapple, kiwi, lemons, key limes, clementines, and grapefruit. 

germinate tomato seeds

What are some tips to make seed germination in paper towels more fun and productive?

  • Use a label to write the name of the seeds and the date and stick it on the zip lock bag before placing the paper towel containing the seeds inside. This will help you identify the seeds as well as keep track of days.
  • Use a gardening journal to record your progress. You can also do it digitally.
  • Don’t pack up all the seeds in one sitting in the zip-lock bag for germination. Remember to space out seed germination, so that you’ll have something to look forward to. For example, if you sow all green chilli seeds on the same day, you’ll be harvesting the majority of them at the same time. However, if you plant the seeds with a gap of 20 days, you’ll have a regular and continuous supply.
sprouting seeds

What are the advantages of germinating seeds in a paper towel?

  • Faster Germination: Seeds can sprout within just a few days or even overnight! While a few varieties take longer, the overall process is certainly quicker.
  • Seed Viability Testing: With the paper towel method, you can easily check both the seeds’ germination rate and viability. This is especially helpful when your gardening space is limited.
  • Less Mess: Germinating seeds in plastic bags using moist paper towels means you don’t have to mess around with the potting soil, at least for a little while.
  • Space-Friendly: You can enjoy bountiful seed starting even if your indoor gardening space and setup are limited.
  • Fun and Productive Activity for Kids: Growing seeds using the paper towel method is a gardening activity kids can absolutely enjoy. Whether you’ve got toddlers, pre-schoolers, or school-aged kids in your home, just about anyone will definitely enjoy the adventure of this fun yet productive process.
how many seeds


Germinating seeds using the paper towel method is a great way to sprout seeds. Here is a quick summary of the important points:

  • Germinating seeds in paper towels takes less time and energy, is cost-effective, and also needs less space.
  • You can check the germination rate and viability of your seeds using this technique.
  • Several herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and grasses can be germinated using this method.
  • Remember to label the zip lock bags before placing the paper towels with the seeds inside them for germination.
  • The paper towel shouldn’t be too dry or wet. Make sure you maintain enough moisture.

People also ask

Is germinating seeds in a paper towel faster?

Of course, yes. Germinating your seeds in paper towels is a quicker way to grow plants without using any potting mix, perlite, peat moss, or coir. You don’t even require trays, pots, seedling mats, or any special instruments or gadgets to do it. This low-tech, easy-to-do process saves you time and money.

How long does it usually take for seeds to germinate in paper towels?

If done appropriately, it takes anywhere between seven and ten days for seeds to germinate in paper towels. If it takes more time, you may have to check the expiration date on the seed pack.

Why are your seeds not sprouting using the paper towel method?

Some seeds may not germinate using the paper towel method, despite your best efforts. Given below are a few troubleshooting steps you could probably try as you start the process of seed germination in paper towels.

  • Check if your paper towel is too wet. Seeds will start to rot if there is a lot of water, and they may not sprout or take too long to sprout. 
  • Find out if your paper towel is too dry. Seeds need constant moisture to germinate.
  • Find out if the particular type of seed requires sunlight to germinate. You can try taping the bag of seeds in a moist paper towel to a glass door or window.
  • Make sure your seeds are not too old. If you’ve got a poor batch of seeds or an old batch, they will not sprout regardless of your efforts. Try to add some heat. Consider placing your seed bags on your microwave, on top of your refrigerator, or close to your floor’s heating vent.
  • Verify if your choice of seeds requires cold stratification. In that case, try to place the seed bags in the refrigerator for about ten days and check again after they’ve had enough time to chill out.
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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