When it comes to germination, following certain steps can help ensure your success. Before planting seeds, you need to make sure your seeds are coming from a trusted source. If you purchased seeds, read the packet to make sure they are not expired. Expired seeds will still germinate, however the rate of success will decrease. For every year the packet is expired, I would estimate 10-20% germination loss. Even up to date seeds will have a small percent of seeds that will not successfully germinate. Do not get discouraged if some of your seeds do not grow. However, using seeds that are not expired is the best way get the most success with germinating. The way you store your seeds can cause seeds to no longer be viable. It is important to not let the stored seeds be exposed to moisture or high temperatures. Dry and cool is the key to seed storage. Keep seeds in a tightly sealed container (mason jars work excellent). Due to reduced humidity and cool temperatures, a refrigerator makes an ideal environment to store seeds.
Watering is an issue with plant growth at all stages, including germination. Overwatering seeds can lead to seeds being washed away, mold and fungus growth, or even causing the seeds to rot. Underwatering can delay germination or halt it completely. Covering seeds with a plastic lid, a plastic bag, or plastic wrap can help keep moisture in and keep them from drying out during the germination process. If you use some sort of cover, remove it as soon as seedlings emerge. To avoid overwatering, never water your growing media more than the consistency of a rung out sponge. Make sure your seed starting containers have drainage. Using a mister can help keep you from overwatering. Air circulation is also important to help keep mold and fungal issues from occurring. Having a fan on can help improve air flow, just be careful to not let it dry your seeds out.
Seedlings become leggy quickly when leaning towards the light or trying to find the light. Having adequate light is important to grow healthy seedlings. If you’re growing in a window, choose a south-facing exposure. Rotate your growing containers regularly to keep plants from leaning towards the light. If seedlings don’t get enough light, they will be leggy and weak. If you’re growing under lights, adjust them so they’re just a few inches above the tops of the seedlings. As seedlings grow, raise the light to avoid burning the plant. Use a timer to keep your lights on for 12-15 hours a day. Keep in mind that seedlings need darkness, too, so they can rest. Patience is very important when germinating seeds. Some seeds take longer to germinate. Environmental factors can delay germination even longer.