Why aren’t my seeds germinating?

There are many reasons why seeds may fail to germinate, and not all of them are your fault! Most problems are related to the sowing conditions and once you know what can go wrong, these setbacks can be easily avoided.

There is a lot of commonality in why growers have problems with seed germination. The four biggest issues are soil temperature, moisture levels, knowledge or experience and patience. We’ve put this guide together to help everyone learn where the problems lie and make changes to become more successful. Check what went wrong.

Seeds need specific conditions to germinate – temperature and moisture can be difficult to control beneath the soil, and are easily affected by weather, human error, and other factors. Maintaining controlled moisture in the top layer of soil is particularly challenging if it is sunny and/or windy.

Timing is everything with seeds, so rely on your local first/last frost dates and hope for the weather to play along. Be sure to plant seeds at the depth recommended on each seed packet. Seeds that are planted too deeply will not germinate.

Seeds (usually) require well-cultivated soil – while some plant seeds (think dandelions) will grow nearly anywhere, many herb, flower, and vegetable seeds require soil that has good drainage, the correct pH level, and adequate fertility to succeed.