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Ultimate Guide To Germinating Seeds In Paper Towel

Are you trying to use a shortcut to grow your seed faster? Go for germinating seeds in a paper towel and see the magic in which even the most stubborn one comes out of its coat.

Varieties of seeds, whether vegetables, fruits, flowers, or herbs, can experience the magnetic effect of paper towels.

To germinate a seed on a paper towel, cut the paper in half, put the seed of the plant on the towel, sprinkle the water over the seeds, and lastly, cover the seed and put it in a Ziploc bag. But do not over or under-water the seeds.

A person is holding on a paper towel with many germinated seeds over it.
Paper towels can make any light, and tiny seeds germinate within a few days compared to soil.

Germinating seeds in the paper towel saves your cost and time, with the benefits of checking the viability of your seed.

If you are a newbie to using paper towels, let this article be a guide for you. 

Do Seeds Germinate Faster In Paper Towel?

Indeed, gardening becomes enjoyable and faster when you get fruitful results from your hard work. 

Germinating most of the vegetable, fruit, or flower seed in the paper towel helps you provide them with a surrounding similar to that of soil.

After using paper towels, the growth rate of plants increases as the towels are pathogen-free and can retain enough moisture for the seeds to complete their germination.

Meanwhile, germinating in paper towels can be much easier than in soil base medium as they have generous benefits for seeds.

  • They give the seed a high germination rate in a minimum time, usually around 2 to 8 days.
  • You can check the seeds daily, which is impossible for soil base medium.
  • If you wish to populate many plants at a time, it provides a base for germination in less space.
  • You can check the viable and non-viable seeds by looking at their sprouts and using the viable ones to increase plant productivity.
  • It provides a sterile environment for the proper growth of the plant seed, preventing the attack of pests and diseases.
  • The germination becomes clean and minimizes the mess as you do not have to work with the soil for some days. So enjoy the faster and hygienic way!

For deep-rooted vegetables like radishes and carrots, it is better to grow them directly in the garden. Celery can also be an exception as its seeds needs atop soil sprinkling.

Moreover, the germination period for seeds may differ from vegetables to herbs to annuals and perennials flowers.

How To Germinate Different Seeds In Paper Towel? 

Paper towel has now taken up the space of soil establishing itself as an alternative medium for germinating seeds.

For germinating seeds in a paper towel, you need a Ziploc bag, a mister or spray bottle, a marker, the seeds you want to grow, and the paper towel.

Group of Ziploc bag with stickers and name of the plant written on it.
With the use of Ziploc bags, you are providing the plant with optimum heat and preventing it from being damaged by external factors.

Along with the paper towel method, you can also work with the baggie method filled with vermiculite or sphagnum moss.

However, it can be tedious work as they need extra pre-treatment, and germination is slower than the paper towel for tiny seeds but works well with seeds of tropical trees.

I have listed some of the best seeds for germinating in wet paper towels and bags with vermiculite or sphagnum moss with the steps to remember while working with them.

Germination in Wet Paper Towel

In Wet Paper Towel, the cloth acts as a substrate for the seed to germinate in a sterile environment. Here are the steps to follow for it.

  • Firstly, collect the seed of the crop you want to germinate and clean it with fresh water.
  • Fold a paper towel in half and use a sprayer filled with water to thoroughly wet the towel from both sides but do not make the towel drip.
  • Place the seed in the middle of the towel, maintaining the space according to the size of the seeds.
Group of seeds are kept in a paper towel while some seeds have already germinated.
Paper towels are the best and fastest method for germinating seeds and can be a valuable tool in standardized viability tests of seeds.
  • Do not overlap the seeds, as they need more space for their sprouts to appear.
  • Use more paper towels if you plan to germinate in bulk.
  • Again spray little water over each seed, and roll up the next part of the paper towel.
  • Do not tighten the towels, as they can bring the seeds closer.
  • Take a Ziploc bag and wet inside of it only if there is not enough water in the damp towel.
  • Place the paper towel containing seeds carefully inside the bag and close it.
  • Put the bag near the heating area, like the back of refrigerators, or over a heating mat to provide the minimum temperature to allow it to germinate.
  • At last, check the seeds regularly by taking them out of the zipper bag for sprouting, and when the real roots appear, sow them in their original place.

The sprouting can vary from two days to two weeks depending upon the seeds’ viability and variety.

You can also refer to this video for further details.

Similarly, here are the best seeds to germinate in paper towels.

Type Of PlantName of Crops
VegetablesTomato, Squash, Garden Peas, Pepper, Eggplant, Chili, Pumpkin, Lemons, Gourds, Cucumber, Broccoli, Beans, Zucchini, Radish
FruitsWatermelons, Muskmelon, Orange, Kiwi, Pineapple, Papaya, Strawberry, Apple, Pear
HerbsBasil, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Basil, Chives, Dill, Mint
FlowersSunflower, Hibiscus, Zinnias, Cornflower, Sweet Alyssum, Poppy, Dianthus, Rose Campion, Blackberry lilies, Blanket Flowers, Nasturtium

Besides Paper Towel, a Ziploc bag can also help seeds germinate!

Germination in Bags with Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss can be a good alternative for plants demanding moist and well-drained substrate. Here are the steps to follow for germination!

  • Firstly, leave the seed to soak overnight in water.
  • Prepare a handful of sphagnum moss and wash it to remove any foreign particles and to make it damp.
  • Squeeze the excess water from the moss, leaving only the required amount of dampness.   
  • Take a Ziploc bag and label it with the name of the plants you are growing with the date you put in for germination.
  • Fill the Ziploc bag with the moss and mix it with the plant’s seeds.
  • Lock it without leaving any air inside but do not tighten the moss to allow passage of air within the bag.
It is easy to maintain humidity for seedlings in a Ziploc bag.
  • Put the bag near the kitchen or floor surrounding heating vents or anywhere that is warm to maintain the optimum temperature.
  • At last, keep checking on the bag for any sprouting, and take it out when the first root appears for transplanting to the area you prefer.

The bag of sphagnum moss is suitable for the flowers like Alocasia, Orchids, Begonia, and Calathea.

Germination in Bags With Vermiculite

Vermiculites can be a good option even when used alone for germination and propagation. You can also start the process by soaking the seed overnight in water.

  • Use a three-part dry and one-part wet vermiculite washed with boiled water and drained the excess water for a proper medium.
  • Mix the vermiculites in a bowl till they feel moist to the touch.
  • 250 cc of the vermiculite mix is enough for a standard zip log bag for 10-20 seeds. 
  • Add the mix to the bag and add the presoaked seed.
  • Afterward, lock the bag, pulling out the excess air.
  • You can provide the bags with warm temperate by putting them in a boiler room, the back of the refrigerator, or on top of the microwave to speed up the germination process.
  • Since the vermiculite method mainly benefits trees’ seeds, you can check the sprouting after two weeks of planting in the mix.

You can get more better result if you soak the Cycads seeds in water for around 5-7 days.

The baggie method with vermiculite can be preferable for tree seeds like Cycads, Palm, and other tropical trees.

However, according to my experience, the best and fastest method I found helpful was the paper towel method, which provided a greenhouse effect for my plants.

What To Do After Germinating Seeds In Paper Towel?

You do not need to do much after putting your seed to take its course in germination until you want to pot it in soil.

Here are some tips you may leverage to ensure sprouting in paper towels.

  • Label all the bags with markers, including their date and type of seeds, as this will make your work faster and keep track of time.
  • Some plants have difficulty germinating in the ground soil. So try to give first preference to stubborn plants like eggplant and pepper as the paper towel helps trigger germination. 
Using a paper towel and zip lock bag method, bean seeds germinate in a dark cupboard after two days.
  • If you are a record lover, try keeping a journal of every step and action you perform over your seeds in their entire journey.
  • Do not overcrowd the seeds and maintain the required space according to their size.
  • Also, do not try to germinate all seeds at once. Do it in 15 days for the continuous supply of fresh sprouts and harvests.

However, transplanting is the only drawback for the paper towel as you have to spend extra hours.

But that will not tire you as the lovely sprouted seeds will re-energize you to take the seeds for growth in their original place.

You can use tweezers to move the cotyledons or seeds from the paper towel.  Dig a hole in the soil before transplanting as they have delicate roots, and then cover it with light soil. 

Why are My Seeds not Germinating in Paper Towel?

Some of your seeds might not germinate regardless of the efforts that you have put into them.

If you have seeds that have not germinated, then the following observation can help you in the future.

  • The seeds cannot germinate and start rotting if your towel is too wet. So make sure to give only two sprays of water once a day.

According toAssociation of Official Seed Analysts, some crops like hybrid Sorghum and hybrid corn attained maximum germination rates in the presence of less moisture and minimum germination rate in case of high moisture levels.

  • If there is no germination, then your towel lacks moisture. So remember to seal the bag tightly to prevent the evaporation of available water.
  • Do not keep the seeds in reach of direct sunlight and also not in the shade, as the seeds might not sprout at all. Try keeping the seeds near glass doors or windows.
  • Another primary reason for no germination can be the expiry of the seeds. The seeds should be viable to sprout, or else growing is impossible.
  • Some of the seeds prefer the chilled surrounding so try putting them in the refrigerator for a week to break their dormancy.
A person is holding a group of germinated seeds in a paper towel.
The significant reason behind no germination can be expired seeds, so try to use new seeds for germination.

You can also test the germination of the seeds by the baggie method or paper towel method by looking at the number of seeds sprouted over the entire batch.

  • Use ten seeds from the batch of seeds that you have brought from the market.
  • Check for the label in the package on how many days the seeds can sprout.
  • Keep an eye on your seed in the paper towel regularly.
  • If five seeds germinate successfully out of 10, the viability of the seed is 50 percent, which is good enough for further plant growth.
  • Also, check the time that it takes to germinate.


Nevertheless, germinating seeds in a paper towel can be fun and a new experience for your planting journey.

Every step you take is in a sterile condition without much effort from your side, consuming less time and occupying less space.

I hope the article will make your task easier. Enjoy a new adventure!

Want to learn to grow Sunflowers after germinating the seeds? Keep reading! 

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